How do you talk about others with your children?

Recently I was at a fellow believer's house and we had come back from an outing with a large group of other believers, some of whom we both had only met a few times prior. At one stage of my visit her 11 year old son made comments about a family who were at the outing. He had been playing with the children of that family for the first time that day, whom are from a more conservative household than he is. They are not exposed to any television, and there are many movies they havent watched also. The son was shocked that these children had not seen his favourite series of movies, and thought it was very strange. So he said to his mother:

"They havent even seen *insert movies here*!!! Thats crazy, what do they DO?!" The mother's response was along the lines of "Well their parents are a bit over the top and are sheltering their kids too much and one day when those kids are old enough they will discover it all for themselves and they are in for a shock".

I was pretty disgusted with the response and had to hold my tongue. I was expecting something like "I'm not sure what they do son, maybe you can ask them next time? They probably like to read, or go fishing or something? Theres more to life than movies or TV. Their family has a different lifestyle to us, and that's okay." But instead, It was what I thought to be a pretty judgemental and worldly response. One that I silently took note of and learned from. I don't ever want to talk about others that way with my kids.

Sure, I've been guilty of making judgements on people that I shouldn't have, we all do from time to time. Ive had to stop myself thinking the worst of someone or having an un-biblical opinion. It happens. But talking to your children about someone in such a manner is just not on. Kids are impressionable and look up to us. The way we treat others and speak about others, that's how they will do it. If we want little judge Judy's and gossip Garry's, then talking like that will get you there. But if you want a child who sees others with eyes of patience, understanding and tolerance, then we ought to be practicing that ourselves.

Yes there is absolutely a time and place for righteous judgement. Sometimes we have to look at a situation for what it is. If a person is in blatant sin and your child is exposed to it or asks about it, you can be honest with them whilst still keeping an attitude of love. You can plainly lay it straight for them in a way they understand, and if the situation calls for it, pray together for those people just to seal it with love.

But in this instance? I believe the mother felt convicted...or judged herself, because the other family was living a more dedicated lifestyle than she was. Whilst she was spending her evenings watching movies with her children, they spend time reading the word and praying, then enjoying some quality time away from the TV together. If she wants to watch lots of movies with her kids, that's her business and her right to do so, but she ought to not make those who choose not to do that, look like "fanatics" or "weirdos" or "over the top". That just makes one look either guilty or jealous.

I don't hold it against her. For the most part she is a wonderful mother. Shes a real server and would do anything for her kids. She just has a problem with being judgemental. and knowing her well i can see where its come from. We all have our "thing" that we are dealing with, and I suppose that's her thing. It really did bother me, but at the end of the day its not my problem to fix, so I prayed and moved on. But I thought it would be a good lesson to learn. Her children are a bit like her in that area because that's what they are growing up with, its a way of thinking that needs to be corrected. I think its good to see that, and make a decision to learn from it.

Lets encourage our children to understand that not everyone lives the same way, and our only measuring stick should be what the bible says. We can observe (to a limited extent) that someone is or isn't living in a way that pleases God, and with that observation ought to come either a healthy challenge to motivate us to live better for Christ, or, a compassion for those observed who aren't living right which leads us to pray for them.

There is no room in a Christian household for gossip or jealousy. Lets be an example to our children and learn to react the right way to lifes situations. Easier said than done...isnt everything? But with a sincere heart, we can do it.