“Since the day after giving birth to her all of these stomach issues began.”
Was all she heard her say.
The mother said this harmlessly but it haunted her child from that day forward.
The little girl walked away believing–It’s my fault that mom is sick.” In no way, did the mom communicate this to her daughter but that is what she heard.
The mom was just having a normal conversation with her friend and in no way blaming the daughter she was only stating the facts of what happened.
So I share this story to remind myself now as a parent and to encourage you to watch what you say in front of your kids.
Sometimes we think we are whispering but we are not. Sometimes we think they are young and won’t clue in but they do. Sometimes we think what we said is harmless but it may cause pain. Sometimes we flippantly say things and regret them later. If we do, make sure to apologize to your spouse or child then assure them of what you really meant.
Meaningful words don’t always have to be addressed directly to you.
For example, my parents regulary told us “Our family is generous with our blessings even though we have little.” that phrase has been foundational in my life. That phrase identified me to something bigger than myself–my family.
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” ~Mother Theresa
I will use the word “meaningful” often in this post because I want you to realize that I don’t mean just using words like “good job”, “you’re super” or “that was nice”, although these words maybe encouraging sometimes there is more value when we find specific and meaningful ways to encourage our children, spouse, siblings. Each person is different so finding those ways that build them up is important.
What we think impacts how we respond.
You may not be the parent who says “I’m so annoyed with my lazy ass child.” or “She’s so freaking annoying. She’s driving me crazy.” but you think it. I’m not just talking about in passing but a lot.
The mouth speaks what the heart is full of” Matthew 12:3 but even if you don’t read the Bible you probably heard this quote, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
Maybe at the moment you just spoke out of anger or frustration because sometimes we do that, I get it. But the more you say these kinds of things (inwardly or outwardly) about our children or spouse, we then start believing this about them.
Science shows that our thoughts about things that happen to us can have a big impact on how we feel and how we act towards someone or a given situation.”
Creating a Safe Haven at Home
Using words that build, in our home may mean we need to evaluate our speech. Words like “f— you, or the hell with you” or whatever other profanities come to your mind these are never words that build even if you are not directing them at your child.
Your child is still hearing them and they are definitely not building anyone up by using them, in fact, they are creating a negative environment in your home. So if you find that you have to use them when venting, save them for when you are out with your friends and not around your children.
“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Meaningful words are also polite words like thank you, please, excuse me, no thank you … We should also use these words with our children and spouse. These words are not just for strangers or friends, it’s important that we incorporate them in our home with our family.
The words we use will teach, if we practice what we preach.
“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.”
Even though I know the importance of meaningful words, it still takes a lot of discipline on my part to make sure that I am sharing them out loud (not just in my head). I do okay at encouraging my kids but it’s definitely an area that I need to be intentional about. I recently started doing THIS to help me be more intentional. but I need to work on this when it comes to my husband. Can anyone else relate?
“Silence is not always golden.”
Take a moment and think about the words that have breathed life into your down trodden soul. Those words that lift the spirits of the hurting and give wings to dreams and give hope and guidance to the lost. Words that remind us that good old fashion manners are not a thing of the past. Jot down those meaningful words or phrases and put them on index cards and on a ring if you need the reminder (like I do). My husband recently shared that he wanted us to start praying again in the morning as a couple. Hearing him say “let’s pray” every morning, awakens my soul.
This list could quickly be 10 pages long as I think back to the powerful phrases that built me up as a kid and the things I have heard in my counseling office from other families. What are some other phrases that you would add to this list? I asked my husband this question and his smart alecky self replied “I wish I would have heard my parents say to me, we are going on a European vacation.”
What other words/phrases would you add to the list?
Other post you’ll enjoy:
What parent doesn’t deal with this? Kid Friendship Dilemmas–I’m not your friend anymore.