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A Dose of Pouty Magic

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2012 Mar 23

Posted by Jim_Daly Mar 22, 2012




I mentioned the other day that my colleague and Tim Tebow fanatic, Sue, was pouting over the arrival of Peyton Manning to the Denver Broncos and the subsequent trade of Tim to the New York Jets.

Thankfully, her poutiness was rare and short-lived. But I’m not so sure I can say the same thing about my son Troy who's been known to pout to either make a point or get his way.

His brother calls it “pouty magic.”

The act doesn’t usually work, but that hasn’t stopped him from trying!

He's a very good young man, but I decided to address it. After I called him on it the other day, Troy lamented to his brother, Trent, "Dad’s got me figured out!”

So, score one for Dad, but the game’s not over just yet – not by a long shot.

The nature of children lends itself to this type of behavior. After all, children want what they want. Selflessness must be taught. Deference and good manners aren’t instinctual. Parents need to show and lead the way, and be aware of the manipulative tactics that their kids often employ to get their way. Whether it’s through tears, an extended lower lip, folded arms or stomping their feet on the ground, children have been known to perfect the art of pouting.

How does your child pout? Can you identify a pattern?  If you’re a mom or dad, you need to become a student of your kids, especially since they’re always studying you - and identifying your buttons. In case you haven’t noticed, they’re usually pretty good at finding them, too.

Truth be told, there is no magic or mystery to pouting. And, obviously, pouting isn’t limited to children, either. We all know those who are prone to sulk in protest or silently resent a person or a decision. It’s ugly and manipulative behavior.

It’s also counterproductive. Like children, some adults pout to either get what they want or complain about what they didn’t receive. But to gripe and grumble will only confirm that a person is unworthy of whatever they so desperately want and claim to deserve.

At the core of poutiness is ungratefulness. We’re upset because we think we know how things are supposed to turn out. We pout because, even subconsciously, we want to sit in God’s seat.

Writing to the church at Corinth, Paul urged his fellow believers to stop their grumbling, and instead be grateful. He urged them to trust in God’s wisdom, not their own. “The foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom,” he wrote, “and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength” (1 Cor 1:25).

We’re all prone to engaging in a little pouty magic. If we’re doing it, we should stop. Today.

Instead, let’s count our blessings. Let’s thank God for what we do have, not what we don’t, and trust that the Father knows best.

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