Giving and Receiving Correction


A while ago, one of my grandkids had gotten into a bit of a pattern of acting out, so I did a video chat with his mom and had her put me on with him. I wanted to be the voice of another authority figure that was correcting him and reminding him of what the rules and expectations were. As we were talking, his mom left the room and came back maybe five or ten minutes later. My grandson had been nodding along as I was talking to him but wasn’t verbally responding to me. I didn’t notice anything weird about that until his mom laughed a little bit and asked, “How long have you been talking?” I told her that I had been talking to him the whole time she was out of the room. And she said, “Well, he has you muted!” That’s a pretty good illustration of what it feels like to offer correction, isn’t it? I’m guessing that you can have a laugh at that story because of how relatable it is.

Being corrected is something that none of us enjoy, whether we are children or adults. Think about how people typically react to being told that they did or said something wrong. I’m struggling to remember more than a couple times that I watched somebody who was corrected immediately take ownership of their mistake and thank the person for bringing it to their attention. After being corrected, somebody may spend some time thinking it over, and maybe they’ll come back and admit their mistake. But it is very rare to see that happen in the moment.

And just like you and I don’t like to be corrected, children are the same way. They’re not born looking for correction. They’re born looking to do what they want to do. But what makes things very complex is that as parents or grandparents, few of us want to be the “bad guy” who is the constant rule enforcer. It’s hard to be known as the adult who brings discipline and correction. So, as their parents and grandparents, we think if we correct kids too much, they won’t like us or think we’re cool.

But it’s important to remember that parenting isn’t primarily about how your kids feel about you in the moment of correction. That’s not why you correct them. We all want to raise children who become healthy adults and are mature and wise. And that won’t happen if we don’t work hard at correcting them when they’re doing or saying things they shouldn’t when they’re young. Think about what the result would be if a child or teen was never corrected or disciplined in any way—that would be guaranteed to produce a self-absorbed and immature adult!

And if we’re honest with ourselves, that’s a good reminder for each of us as adults to allow, and even embrace, correction in our own lives. We all understand that if we could just do and say whatever felt right to us in the moment, there would be some significant relational damage that we would leave in our wake. And that’s why I want to offer this simple, but challenging, reminder to each of us today. If we keep correcting words and actions that don’t build other people up—whether that means correcting ourselves or our children and grandchildren—we benefit our families and will be winning more often at home!