The other day, my son came home from school and repeated a racist joke one of his friends had shared. I was horrified, and I let him have it. Mike and I believe with all our hearts that racism has no part in a Christian's life, and we have done our level best to pass that value on to our kids.
After leaving the child in NO doubt whatsoever about how THIS family views that sort of thing, I was left wondering what I should do next.
Do you contact the parents of the other child? Do you let it go and realize you can't control what goes on in their homes? Do you coach the child what to say next time his friend starts in--or tell him to quit hanging around the other kid? Do you let the teacher know what was said and by whom?
I wanted to react, but not over-react. As I pondered what to do, a sweet friend shared with me a guideline that has served her well, which she calls the Rule of Ten. Wait ten minutes, ten hours, or ten days to respond, depending on the situation.
The appalled email I might have fired off within ten minutes might have caused ME to sin as well. In ten hours, my angry reaction calmed considerably--and I was able to talk it over with my husband. In ten days, I would be able to arrange to see the other parents in a casual setting and bring it up in a constructive manner in a less emotionally-charged situation.
Proverbs 29:11 says, "A fool uttereth all his mind; but a wise man keepeth it in until afterwards." While not every situation lends itself to applying the Rule of Ten, I do appreciate the idea of a considered guideline to help me supress my natural knee-jerk reaction to upsetting news.
It is possible to be angry, yet sin not (Ephesians 4:26). I may never do anything further about this particular situation at all--I'm still praying about it. But in the meantime, my son is watching. My daughter is watching. And how I manage MY reaction to the situation could be more damaging to them than the joke was in the first place.
Heavenly Father, God Only Wise, enable me be the kind of mom and fellow parent that is like the believer in James 1:19--"swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath." Thank You for bringing this to my attention. Help me be a mother who is tuned in enough to spot sin in it's infancy and guide my children in the paths of life. Bless my son as he turns this all over in his mind and cause him to come to see Your precious creation with Your eyes, not his own. Thank You for the lesson You are teaching me and my family this week. Cause us all to be a people who bring You honor in the way we think about and deal with anyone who is different from us. Amen.