My daughter came in this evening from playing, and shared something that really hurt her heart. This really touched me that she was so sensitive to this, and how she realized that whereas we are not a perfect family, she recognized that we did not use some words that some children are used to hearing from their parents.
So I felt compelled to write a message to remind ME first, and to share with all of us as a reminder... how much power is in our words.
In Proverbs 18:21, the Bible says that the power of life and death is in the tongue. In James 3:4-5 we are taught about how an enormous ship is carried by winds of force, yet it can be steered with such a small rudder. The same is true with our tongue. One word can chance the course of something ENORMOUS in our lives. We can speak life into a situation with our words, or we can speak death with our words.
Jordan was witness to a parent scolding their small child for not getting the door closed all the way tight (something of which is still a challenge even for our 10 and 11 yr olds. They get excited-They get in a hurry-They are still kids who need reminding)
The words she heard from a parent to a little child were, "You don't THINK...This is what you do when you don't get your nap...You become a SELFISH BRAT". These words came from a christian to a small child. Jordan said the tone was stern and scary to her too. The words alone are so piercing for me personally, because for a child who is only kinder/1st grade age, this is very impacting. For ANY child! Basically, these are the words she may begin to believe about herself. "I don't think"..."I am a selfish brat".
It really got me thinking about my own self, and when I get a bit "beside myself" and speak in short tones. Or at times I "react" and say something I really don't mean. (Even our vocal tones, facial expressions and body language can speak life or death to our children) It caused me to revisit again how much power our words hold. It reminded me again to remember to speak to our children with life-giving words, expressions, and body language.
I once read that what we tell our children, (and how we treat our children), is what they will believe of themselves. This was years ago when I read this and to be honest, I am not sure of the title of the book either. It did make an impression on me though. At that time, I made a deliberate choice to speak words to our children that are corrective to the behavior, but not degrading to their character.
If you tell a child, "You are dumb, You are a brat...You are disappointed in them"... etc. Children really do believe us, and they will begin to believe that these words define who they truly are.
Personally, I think there are many other ways to teach lessons to our children, and to train a child to remember responsibilities, without degrading them.
Colossians 4:6 says, "Let your speech always be with "grace", seasoned with salt, that you may know how to answer each one".
I think GRACE is the key word that jumps out to me here. If we all as adults/parents truly think about how our heavenly Father bestows us with grace and mercy, (even in the midst of our shortcomings and mistakes), why would we not do so with one another and especially our own children? We receive grace and mercy from God, yet we do not extend this example to our own precious children... who are small and learning so much about life from the "big people".
God disciplines us so lovingly and patiently. This is so how I want to be with our children!
This is a challenge for me (I am preaching to myself here first) because I was brought up in a home where critical words were a part of our every day lives. If someone is brought up in a home where they are constantly degraded and told how wrong they do everything, it is a difficult bondage to break in adulthood. In most cases this bad habit repeats to their children and children's children...unless the cycle is broken. This takes purposeful and thoughtful chosing; to think about EVERY word that is about to proceed out of our mouths. It takes training...take it from me... I certainly don't EVEN have it all down in this area! Most of all, it takes staying in the word of God and in prayer.
I'll never give up trying! I hope you won't either.
With God ALL things are possible!! We can "...take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ"...as the Bible says in 2 Corin 10:5.
Lord, I pray to be a parent who disciplines with great love and compassion. That I would be a parent who chooses my every word carefully and thoughtfully... so that I may speak LIFE into our children, and not death. That even when they misbehave...I'll correct the behavior in a loving and nurturing way. That every day I will remind our dear children of who Jesus says they are. I pray that I will not label who they are by their misbehavior. I pray that in times that I do "mess up", that you would give me the awareness to recognize and STOP right then, forgive myself, and to be real enough to let them know I was wrong. Right then!
May we as parents extend the same love to our children that you extend to us, Dear Father. May we love with your kind of love as in 1 Corinthians 13 where you tell us:
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails.
May we truly BE love, and LIVE love out as examples of Christ's love to our children.
I am writing with a heart full of compassion regarding this subject, and with much desire to work on ME...to serve the Lord wholly through my parenting.
In Jesus name, Amen!