“The words with which a child’s heart is poisoned, whether through malice or through ignorance, remain branded in his memory, and sooner or later they burn his soul.”
Carlos, Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind
Mommas, can we be honest here for a moment? For the last couple of weeks we’ve talked about praying for our children and while praying for them, and seeking God’s divine intervention and protection in their lives; I need to confess hypocrisy in my life. A mother has no greater weapon at her disposal than the words that pass her lips and I must admit, the words that pass mine are not always words of prayer or of life.
The tongue can bring death or life: those who love to talk will reap the consequences. Proverbs 18:21
I struggle with my words when I am tired; weary after a long day and frustrated by asking a chore to be completed one too many times. Sometimes, I just don’t know when to let it go, forgetting that when we’re on the same team nobody wins by my insistence on proving a point. Welling eyes leave this momma (who likes to consider herself an encourager) feeling convicted.
While most of us might easily recognize words that have gone a step (or two, or three) too far when it comes to correcting our children – there is another powerful way that we can use or misuse our words with them.
I believe as a momma, I have the opportunity to speak truth to and about my children. I have the opportunity to speak good and blessings into them and to other people about them. I have every opportunity to build their sense of worth and character.
I also have the opportunity to speak ill of my kids. Whether I tear them down to their face or to other people, I have the opportunity to speak something else into their lives. I have the ability to tear down a wall of confidence before it’s even started. I have the ability to shape and influence what other people think of them before they’re even in school.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29
We live in a broken world filled with broken people. Our children will encounter so many people with no connection or loyalty to them. They will encounter people who have no obligation to them; who may be jealous of them or threatened by them. They will encounter a world filled with hurting people and hurting people, hurt people. Whether it’s to their face, on social media, in their school or church, our children need us to be their biggest champion. The words we speak will imprint their hearts and minds – the words we speak influence what and who they will become.
Whether your babe is 12 months or 12 years now is the time to speak truth into their lives. Now is the time to speak truth to them and about them. Now is the time to encourage and champion them.
Our children need to know the truth about who and whose they are.
God created you and He loves you and He wants to be your friend forever. Daddy and I love you; you are our best (child’s name).
Our children need to know that they are not here by mistake.
God created you special, for a purpose that nobody else can fill. He has a plan for your life.
Our children need us to build them up.
You are so kind to your sister, to that friend at school. You are sensitive to other’s needs and I am proud of what a good friend you are. You did a great job on that math test, you read very well, you did a good job helping mom out, etc.
Our children need to know we love them despite their behavior and that we won’t stay angry with them.
Mommy isn’t happy that you did ______. But no matter what mommy loves you. Mommy is upset but she is not angry with you. Mommy forgives you.
Our children need us to encourage them for making wise choices.
That showed a lot of wisdom and courage when you chose not to do what your friends were doing. Your choices makes me proud. Thank you for telling me the truth about _______.
Our children need to know that we will stand by them and that we believe in their ability.
It’s okay if you are not the best at ______ because you are really good at other things, like ______. God just wants you to do your best and so do Mom and Dad – you don’t have to be the best of everything. I am proud of the way you persevered; I am proud that you tried you hardest and did not give up.
Our children (at all ages) need our help to define their strengths.
You are so strong. You are brave. You are kind. You are smart. You are a good helper. You can run very fast. I love the way you love God. I love the way you love His people. You are good at science . . . reading . . . math . . .
The words our children need to hear us saying are the same kinds of words we need to speak about them to the great wide open. Our posts about our children (whether they are rants or proud momma moments) shape how they are seen or perceived. Let’s not allow our complaints, our mommy rants, become truth for their lives. Let’s give our children an opportunity to be someone other than who they were at two when they missed both a nap and a snack. Let’s make sure that we’re honest with ourselves about who was responsible for the missed nap and snack and let’s be honest with ourselves about what led to a case of the crankies rather than putting it out there as a potential character flaw in our child.
Mommas, we will be accountable for what we say to and about our children, just as we will for how we say it. Let tomorrow be the morning we start anew. Let tomorrow be the morning we begin with pouring words of love into their tender hearts; let tomorrow be the morning we tell the other side of the story about our children.