Monday, June 23, 2014

Why I Don't Tell My Kids To Be On Their Best Behavior

Why I Don't Tell My Kids To Be On Their Best Behavior

Last week we were preparing the house for a family of six to come and stay with us for a few nights. We prepared two crock pots full of stew instead of one and gave them full reign of the basement. The bed that my parents were using when they lived with us last year is actually still set up down there. We had decided to keep it up for moments just like this. 

It is also moments just like this (and especially when we are out in public) that a certain phrase comes to mind. Something that I find naturally rolls off of the tip of my tongue and I literally have to stop my brain from saying out loud. However, most of the time the words slip out automatically and then I fumble trying to backtrack or adjust the ending. The phrase...

"Kids, be on your best behavior!"

The reality is that it is really important to Sam and I that our family knows how to be real and be loving (and behaving correctly) in public AND when no one else is around. I think most family's desire that. Yet it is phrases like this that seem to completely contradict that and make it seem that our expectations are different at and away from home. 

A few years ago when we made the giant leap from two kids to five, we spent a lot of time narrowing down our family's core values...and then narrowing them down again...and again until we had a simple list of seven things that we knew were important to us and that we wanted to be part of our family's DNA. 

If we are going to put hard work and effort into this whole parenting thing we want to know that there is a purpose!

This list of seven words are simply things that we realized are most valuable to Sam & I and that we wanted to be valuable to our family. Things that we want each of our kids to grasp by the time they are 18 and our roles as parents change. It isn't simply about good behavior but about getting at the heart. Ultimately we are trying to teach them the why behind the what.

It is from that simple list, where we have narrowed down our core values, that we continue to make decisions on how we parent (after all there isn't a manual for parenting). We desire for those values to literally be at the core of who we are as a family. And while teaching our kids to have good manners and to treat people kindly fall under our values, how confusing is it for our kids if we make it seem more important to behave good in public than the way we expect them to behave at home?

Let's be honest, this parenting thing is hard!

It takes a lot of work! 

Most days we hit our pillows completely exhausted from all of the training 101 that we are doing at home but it IS totally worth it. Why? Because we are determined to teach our kids things that really matter in life, things that will help them live lives of value. That is why most of the time when that phrase slips out of my mouth (oh so many times!) I stutter and it goes something like this...

"Kids, be on your best behavior...just like you are at home." 

Have you heard or used this phrase before? What do you think about the message that is sends to our kids?

Sharing this at:
Living Well Spending Less


  1. I feel the same way about that phrase. Our kids should be just as kind and loving at home (with their family) as they are in public (with friends and strangers). I feel a lot of people treat strangers better than their own family members often (I know I do sometimes) and I don't want that to be the normal in our family.

    1. Allyson,

      Yes, I totally agree! :-)


  2. You are so right. I want my kids to respect themselves and others wherever they are.

  3. I had to think about this and what do I actually say to my kids before we go out. I think it's generally something like, argue and bicker and we leave. That's the battle we're fighting at the moment lol!
    I expect my children to be polite, respectful and kind no matter where we are and they are reminded at home as well as in public if they step out of line. I also expect them to be kids though and sometimes get loud, be curious and be excited. I think as parents we sometimes forget that children are not miniature adults and see some behaviors in public as "bad" when they are really just normal, childhood behaviors.
    Yes, parenting is hard and exhausting. I have six little ages 11 down to 19 months so I feel your prioritizing and falling into bed completely and utterly exhausted. Keep on trucking though because you are also right when you say it's worth it.

    1. Lacey,

      You are so right about kids acting like kids in public. Thanks for sharing! :-)



Thank you for commenting, I read every single one. Because spam is so prevalent I moderate all comments. I also will delete any that are inappropriate or hurtful. All other comments will be approved and published in between me chasing around my five little tornadoes! For any specific questions feel free to email me at Thanks for reading and following along!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...