Christian Parenting Mistake #7 – “He’s just tired…”

Let me paint the scenario for you (it happened just today, so it’s pretty easy)…

My daughter is leaving Kindergarten with my wife and calling “good-bye” to her friends.  She says “Good-bye” and hugs one little girl, who is stiff as a board and says nothing.  Another of them who was walking away hand in hand with her mother, is called BY NAME – “Bye so-and-so!”  The little girl didn’t even turn around.  Her mother turned her around and said, “Say good-bye, so-and-so…”  The little girl scowled with her head down and refused to say anything.  The Mom then said to my wife, (here it comes)… “She’s just tired…”

Let me ask you a question… since when is it acceptable for ANYONE to intentionally ignore another person who is talking directly to them?  When adults do that we call it “RUDE.”  It’s frowned upon, and is clearly not loving or considerate to the person attempting to interact with them.

Yet, Christian parents (people who are supposed to be following Jesus’ teachings and teaching their children to do the same) repeatedly (and I mean REPEATEDLY) excuse the selfish, rude, and UNACCEPTABLE behavior of their own children with the “He’s just tired…” excuse.

Are our kids sometimes tired and therefore more prone to being cranky and selfish?  Absolutely!  It goes for adults too – (and probably describes me at least once a week)!  But since when is that a legitimate reason for bad, rude, inconsiderate behavior?  If I were to ignore you when you were talking directly to me, and then say, “I’m just tired…”, You wouldn’t buy it for a second!  Why do we allow it with our kids?!!???

Maybe it’s because we think, “They are just kids… they’ll learn in time…”  But the truth is (and experience bears this out), they WON’T learn it if YOU, the PARENT, don’t TEACH THEM why it’s wrong and what to do instead!  Many of the selfish, prideful, inconsiderate ADULTS of today are the result of such tragic parenting mistakes!  The only thing they learned is that when their emotions get the best of them, then they are excused from decent behavior.

As Christian parents we must understand that there is a two-fold responsibility on us as parents in areas like this.

  1. We need to teach our children that THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE BEFORE GOD (and us as their parents and God’s primary representative authority in their lives) to be filled and controlled by the Spirit of God – NO MATTER THE SITUATION (tired, frustrated, angry, fearful, etc.)
  2. That requires that WE as parents  REQUIRE appropriate behavior of them, even in public (as was the case at my daughter’s school today).  The fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians chapter 5 need to be flowing out of our children as young representatives of Christ!  It takes some appropriate discipline to bring this about (which many parents are afraid of – another of the many Christian parenting mistakes), but it can and SHOULD be done.

You may think, “My kid is just shy…”  The truth is that my daughter is naturally shy too – but my wife has been teaching her to be friendly to her friends – to be like Jesus EVEN THOUGH she is shy.  Shyness, like the other things mentioned, is not an excuse to be rude or inconsiderate.

My desire is not for parents to be “Drill Sgts.” to their kids, but to teach them the self-control and discipline needed to be loving, considerate CHRISTIANS in a world that knows very little about such things.

“She’s just tired…”   No, she’s just badly parented.


4 thoughts on “Christian Parenting Mistake #7 – “He’s just tired…”

  1. Pastor Carey,

    It’s been a while since I’ve visited your blog, I hope you are doing well.

    Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about this article. I’ve had numerous experiences working with young children., and I agree that in many cases, the “he/she’s just tired” excuse reflects poor parenting, but is it realistic to expect very young children (ages 3 to 5) to grasp the concepts written here (“that they are responsible before God”)?

    Jean Piaget, a renowned psychologist, demonstrated that children ages 2 to 7 undergo a preoperational stage in which they are occupied almost exclusively with themselves, their immediate surroundings, and concrete concepts. When a child in the preoperational stage is tired, their own weariness takes precedent over behavioral norms (a concept they are still very new to). While the “just tired” excuse may not always be acceptable, the fact remains that young children are most often developmentally incapable of overcoming their tiredness. Of course, there are always exceptions, but this is true of the average child in this age group.
    I’m not a parent, but I think that good parenting is fully possible even with an understanding of this stage of development.

    I hope to see your reply soon, have a good evening!


    • Hi again Erasmus. Thanks for asking – the family is doing well and we are loving life.

      All I can tell you is what the scriptures teach and what their practice has produced in my life and experience. Deuteronomy 4 says that we are to speak to our children about God’s ways (law) when they rise, when they go to bed, when we walk, when we sit, etc. In other words, talk about them ALL THE TIME. To me that’s saying, “Parents, make sure your kids know Me, understand Me as much as they can for where they are in life, and guide them to follow Me.”

      I’m familiar with Piaget’s work, and I recognize that he made some observations along those lines. The tiredness IS sometimes very valid, but my suggestion would be that while his observations appear to be true, do we allow that condition to be a reason to allow bad behavior? I say “no.” Children, like adults, need to learn to do right especially when they don’t feel like it. Tiredness is one of those circumstances. And I’ve seen my kids, even during those ages, learn over time to respond rightly in spite of how tired they are.

  2. I have this policy too…that tireness isn’t an excuse. The truth is, in life, as adults we cannot throw a fit or be rude because “we are tired” (sometimes I wish I could).

    We have friends who have a child who cries when he doesn’t get his way and one who seriously pouts (becomes angry and frustrated) when he cannot do something or when he loses at a game.

    My opinion on it is 1. The child wouldn’t cry all the time if it wasn’t working for him. So stop allowing it to “work for him”. 2. The child who pouts and becomes angry when he loses is going to have a tough time in life if you do not teach him how to handle it…life is a series of losing and sometimes winning.

    Thanks for posting.

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