Have you ever had the sinking feeling that you just said or did something, as a parent, that has hurt the heart or spirit of one of your children? I had that happen the other day. It wasn't that I meant to hurt her, or that it was intentional... it just happened. The product of carelessness. I didn't say anything directly, but I asked an off-hand question jokingly that communicated a message to her. We can brush these off, but I really don't believe that brings any kind of true peace -- for the parent or child. I have found the only way to navigate those not-so-shining parenting moments is through humility. I told my daughter before bed that I had been careless with my words -- it was a bad joke, and I asked her if she would forgive me. She said she would. I'm always amazed at how quickly my kids forgive. They respond to a humble spirit, and it allows me to point to Christ as the One who gives grace, who authors forgiveness, and who reconciles. My children see that I am not perfect, that I need forgiveness, and that I am continually on a journey. I want them to know the "real," not the "fake,"the authentic, even if it means we have to sit in the mud for a while.
It hurts my heart when I make a mistake with one of my children. I work hard to build them up, to encourage who they are, to make sure they know that God directs their path and has a plan for their life. Then I somehow tear that down in a moment through a spoken word. OUCH. It is no wonder the Bible says in Proverbs 18:21 that the tongue can bring "life or death," or that is says in Proverbs 21:23, "Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble."
We have a choice as parents, we can bring life to our children through our words, or death. Do we take the time to even think about what we are saying? Do we weigh our words carefully, often choosing to remain silent instead of saying how we feel in the moment? Do we fully comprehend the impact our words have on these little hearts in our care? I know for a fact that I could be doing so much more to breathe life. Sometimes it takes a concrete reminder. I know people who put 5 rocks in their pocket. By the end of the day, the goal is to give 5 encouragements and have all of the rocks in the other pocket. Whatever it takes, let us do what we need to be moms and dads who are speak life-giving words. Here are some specific ideas below taken from an article by Karen Stephens.
• Your skills are really improving; you’ve outdone your- self today!
• How kind of you to share toys with your friend. That’s very generous.
• You are taking such good care of your pet. He’s so lucky to have you!
• Now THAT’S what I call a thorough job! Thanks for picking up your toys.
• That’s a great effort; don’t worry about that small mistake.
• Keep at it; I know you’ll figure it out. How can I help?
• I love the sound of your voice.
• You are such a good learner! I’m impressed by your
• I remember when you were first learning that. You’ve
come a long way.
• You’re so fun around the house; life would be boring
• What would I have done without you today? Thanks
for cleaning the house with me.
• Our car looks spic and span, you’re a real professional!
• Great job!
• I’m so proud to tell people I’m your mom (dad).
• You’ve really improved! That’s great!
• It’s wonderful to see you so happy with your
• I appreciate your attention to detail. You are one
• Your patience is commendable. Keep at it; I know
you’ll get it yet.
• I’ve never thought of it that way. How creative!
• You’re doing a great job of controlling your anger.
• You’re on the right track! That’s using your brain.
• You’ve put a lot of careful thought into that.
• Way to go! Excellent! Superb! Amazing! Fantastic!
• Hey, you’re getting the hang of it! Your practice is really paying off.
• Now THAT’S an interesting point.Thanks for sharing it.
• Your attitude is a very respectful attitude. I appreciate that.
• You solved your problem; how clever!
• That is wonderful! Your confidence is really showing!
• How sensitive you are to your brother’s feelings.
• Your dependability makes life so much easier for me.
• I love your sense of humor. How do you think up
• You hang in there when the going gets tough. You’re a
• Look how much progress you’ve made.You should be
• Hey, relax for a while; you deserve a break.
• What a good memory you have. That effort deserves a
• I really enjoyed your performance. No one could have
done it better.
• Keep trying; I know you can work this frustrating
• How calm you were when you got that bad news.
You are really maturing.
• It’s a real gift to me when you do your chores without
• I have to hand it to you; you did exactly what you set
out to do.
• Congratulations, you can be proud of your achieve-
• I LOVE watching you grow up. You never cease to
• You are such an interesting person. I can’t imagine life
Here are a few more of my own:
Here are a few more of my own:
I see how thoughtful you were...
That looked a lot like Jesus...
You’re becoming much wiser...
You were very careful...
I love being around you...
You handled that beautifully...
Way to live out God’s word...
Your creativity inspires me...
You make me smile so big when...
You make life fun...
I’ll bet you feel great...
I can count on you...
You are dependable...