Our family has been enjoying this season’s Masterchef though we are certainly ready for it to be over so we don’t have that hour or so of TV watching every day!  But I must admit it has had a positive effect in our family – the kids are aware of food, presentation, speed in the kitchen.  We’ve had a lot of laughs together and discussions on leadership styles and techniques, character under pressure, respecting other faiths without compromise.  We’ve talked about character traits such as resourcefulness, creativity, loyalty and humility.

But there was one lesson for me as a parent that I thought I’d share with you – this week the contestants had to write a recipe, test it and then present it to a home cook for them to test the completely of their instructions.  This meant the home cook had to follow the exact words that were written – even if it didn’t make sense, even if they knew it should have said something else.  The test was to see how well the contestants could pass on their recipe in the written form.

All sorts of mistakes were made

  • They made changes to their recipe but didn’t make changes to the written recipe (their instructions)
  • They had a picture in their mind but didn’t communicate that well in their instructions
  • They presumed knowledge and therefore didn’t explain things fully in their instructions
  • They had unrealistic expectations

I remember doing this type of writing when I was a student.  My assignment was something more along the lines of imagine that you are explaining something to a Martian who has never seen anything of your life here on earth before.  Far fetched I must admit, but the skill necessary to write like that is an important one.  It makes you think clearly, logically, imaginatively, and detailed (but not overly detailed).

And here is my parenting lesson …

Giving good instructions is so important. Think back, can you think of a time when you gave an instruction to a child and you presumed he knew some back ground information, so you missed that in your instruction.  Turns out he didn’t know that missing bit and a disaster ensued.   Or was there a time you had a very clear idea of what you wanted to happen, but you didn’t communicate that to your child and he just got confused.  Or the time that you just didn’t finish your instruction and yet you expected him to get it.  Or maybe you had unrealistic expectations and he just crumbled under the pressure.

If we want our children to obey our instructions, if we want a certain result at the end, we must be better at giving our instructions.  We must take the time to make sure that we have been clear, that we haven’t missed a step, that we know that our child has understood and that he has the wherewithal to be able to carry out whatever it is we have asked.

Giving good instructions is the first step to obedience.

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