Nobody Likes a Lecture

lectureNobody likes a lecture do they, especially when it’s a long moral self-righteous one. There are just some forms of communication which are never going to produce the desired result and a lecture is one of them. You just make it impossible to respond in any other way than ‘Yeah and what makes you so bloody perfect?’ Moral lectures are full of shoulds and oughts: we suffer them, we put up with them, but we never welcome them because they only tell us what we already know but can’t live up to.

I have a memory from childhood of my dad looking over my shoulder and reading a letter I was writing to a friend in which I’d written ‘My dad has just given us the usual long boring lecture about starving children in Africa.’ I got into a lot of trouble for that AND he gave me the lecture again. (This post is just a justification of the bratty behaviour I once exhibited.)

I’ve done the same myself – thought that if something doesn’t work the obvious answer is to do it again, only more, or louder – but let’s face it, a lecture is generally resisted no matter how many times you repeat it. So I don’t know why it’s so tempting to do it with children, I don’t know why, when we become parents, we suddenly seem to lose that bit of common knowledge and replace it with this idea:

‘What would really help him right now to understand the importance of being kind, what would really motivate him to never ever tease his brother again, is a long moral lecture. It’s never worked before but it should do this time.’

If I really must go on and on (and I do like to sometimes), I prefer to go on and on about how lucky my children are that I don’t do long moral lectures and how much they should appreciate that fact. That’ll learn ’em. So I’ll say things like:

‘At this point I think I’m meant to give you a long moral lecture about the importance of being kind. I don’t think that’s necessary because I know you’ve got a brain, but you should be bloody grateful I ignore commonly practised parenting methods because I’m quite tempted to do it anyway and I could make it SO boring and patronising.’

I did simplify the language a bit and cut out the swearing when they were very small, but with teenagers you can let rip a bit more, they’re not as easily shocked.  You never know though do you, maybe one of my kids has done the equivalent of my bratty ungrateful behaviour when I was younger. Maybe at some point during childhood one of them has texted a friend ‘My Mum has just done the usual ‘Wow aren’t you lucky to have me?’ chat again. LOL.’

5 Responses

  1. Jobbing Teacher
    | Reply

    Teachers are often susceptible to the odd ‘moral lecture’!! I try not to do it for too long. For some children it works and you can see them thinking it through. For others you can see them thinking ‘OMG – just give it a rest!!’

    But the question is, how do we help our children to develop good character strength without over-moralising our interactions with them?


    • Stephanie Davies-Arai
      | Reply

      Thanks for your comment Jobbing Teacher. In answer to your question, I think when we want children to listen to us and learn something, that’s the time to have a conversation between two human beings. What we tend to do is put on the teacher voice and a moralistic tone which communicates mistrust. I think it’s actually the more intelligent children (who are often the most challenging in their behaviour) who pick up this underlying message most clearly and feel patronised. We need to make it more of an open conversation, think aloud, give some salient facts and trust them to get the moral message, rather than lay the moral aspect on with a trowel. Every child knows really that it’s nice to be kind, for example, but we act as if they don’t. I might write a blog about it!

      • Judy
        | Reply

        Yes please! (the blog about being kind). I’ve always told my daughter kindness to others is as important as the grades we get at school. She seemed to take it on board, but now she’s 14, there are times when it’s hard for her – when she’s tired, stressed, irritated etc. I think it’s a very complex area, and I feel I don’t handle it well – definitely lapse into lecture mode, and often leave her thinking I am critical of her as a person.
        I find your blogs so helpful, especially on a Sunday, when I’ve had a few ‘moments’ like the one above over the weekend. It’s like a reality check for me – keep them coming!

        • Stephanie Davies-Arai
          | Reply

          Ah thanks Judy! And I will write that blog! xx

        • Jobbing Teacher
          | Reply

          Thank you Judy

          I think being a teenager is so hard and being a parent is also. I deal with so many children at school who really feel the pressure of expectations on them. They so want to be treated like an adult but have not got the confidence and/or skills yet to do it.

          I’m so glad you enjoy my blog – I really love writing it. I am so worried as a teacher about what we are being forced to do to our kids – the increased pressure we are putting on them to pass exams to make their school look good which in turn makes the Government look good. It is in a way quite sickening at times.

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