Quiet and common notions...shared here...with you! Of life ~ our hearts and our home.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Southern Culture Shock Influences Curiosity...

I have a curious question brewing in my heart and mind... that I can't shake or resolve. So, I thought I would pose it out to ya'll - and I really hope to hear some feedback on this one. Here is the question.

"How does it make you feel when another adult, either corrects your child, or takes over caring for your child, all while in your presence?"

Please, at the outset, understand that I desire to ask this in a humble way and in so doing do not want to offend anyone in the least.

The question comes on the heels of a topic in conversation that I had had, one afternoon, with my Mother-in-law, who I call Susie Mom, while she was here visiting (up from the south). Let me set the stage...

We were (honestly) asking each other if we "drive each other crazy"....good ole heart to heart conversation... and it led into her saying that she didn't think I was going to be fully prepared for "southern hospitality" and all that, that entails. (this was back when we still thought we would be moving to NC). I questioned her comment but at the same time I understood where she was coming from. The reason that she said this was because I mentioned that I didn't know how to handle one of my friends (who lives in NC) "taking over" for me, in the realm of childcare, one time while we were visiting them.
: : It made me feel like I was not doing well as a Mom or that I was getting "pushed around" - not that, that was her intention in the least. She was just being herself - a "good ole southern mama", with all of the best intentions in mind. She thought she was doing me a service because at the time I was pregnant and "tired". I love her to pieces, don't get me wrong... I just didn't know what to make of it.

Another quick illustration was recently, one Saturday morning, I was at our church for a ladies breakfast. We were sitting around the table, sharing our thoughts on the topic that was just presented. One lady was sharing a rather personal situation about her own children and one of the other mother's little girl, indeed, spoke out of turn - asking for more information to which another woman (coincidentally, who is also from the south!) at the table quickly retorted (rather politely, I might add) to the little girl "Well, that is just none of your business". She spoke truth...and I thought the same thing...but I wouldn't have had the courage or boldness to say that to her, especially in front of the little girls mother who was also sitting there, but she was comfortable in doing that.

Susie Mom went on to tell me that, "In the south, nobody thinks twice about "correcting" or "taking charge" (if action demands it) of another person's child... even if the parents are present". That just totally surprises me.

Even my own sisters, Mother or Mother-in-law can step over the line (with me) on this and I shared that with Susie Mom too. But, was I being too honest? Am I the one with "issues" in this regard? Is it a Northern versus Southern thing? Where is the line drawn on this??

I know I probably have done this with my own nieces and nephews, a time or two, but I don't know that I could do that with a friends child (let alone a mere acquaintance). I honestly cannot imagine doing this to someone else's child, especially when the parents are in the same room - unless the child is in immediate danger. It's also a whole different ballgame (in my opinion) if the children are solely in your care for a period of time.

But should we? Should we be bold(er) in the well-being of "other's" children? Scripture says we are to "restore him gently, if he is caught in a sin" -Galatians 6:1 (paraphrase mine) and it also says in Philippians 2:4 that "Each of you should look not only at your own interests, but also to the interests of others".

I came across a paragraph in the book "A life that says welcome", by Karen Ehman that talks about this very subject. This is in reference to guests who are in your own home. It reads;

"Let children know rules and boundaries. Be polite, but if there are items that are off-limits to your own children, then by all means, don't let another mom's child carry around the (heirloom glass) item. Been there, broke that."

Okay. So, I've been really thinking about this as I have been writing. And I hope you know or realize that I do want to have a soft heart about this. I just have honestly have been wondering how to handle this, not that it is a daily happening, but it just makes me so curious.

I want my children to be polite, respectful and obedient especially if and when they are guests in others homes - I also want to know if I need to grow in humility by means of my southern friends boldness in their care and correction with my children. I love "Southern Culture"... its hospitality and its influences...I just want to learn how to handle it all.

: : Let me know what you think? If you know me personally and are not sure how to post a comment but you have my personal email address- go ahead and send me an email. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.


  1. I think it is great when other people correct my children. It reinforces what we are doing with our kids and helps them to see that other people are watching out for them as well. I think the worst thing you can do is get defensive if someone else corrects your child in front of you. I have had children say to me, "You're not my Mom, you can't tell me what to do!" I just heard a sermon recently where the pastor was bemoaning the fact that these days parents get so easily offended when other correct their children. He said back in the 50's (you know like when all kids were good. ;)) parents never thought twice about keeping other peoples kids in line. Child raising was a joint effort and everybody looked out for everyone else. Now we are all afraid to say something for fear of offending.

    I remember as a child being very affected when other adults besides my parents corrected me. It made me think, wow other people besides my parents have the same values, I better behave. So if you see my kids misbehaving, correct away!

    Can you tell I have opinions on this one?! :)

  2. I think it's great... thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. It made me think about it from a differant perspective. I still think I might have a hard time "correcting" while in front of you (but that's just me, I suppose)although I do agree that we are all to be in joint effort (which is what we declare in Baby Dedication services) and so I hope (I'm pretty sure) I wouldn't get offended if you needed to correct any of my little ones, in front of me. But, can you tell I'm still on the fence, a bit, though? sigh!!


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