Nobody 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.’