Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Mean What You Say - Part 2

This afternoon Jackie and I sat down and listened to a couple of tapes we found that contained the voices of our kids, Tim and Amy (both adults now), when they were little. It was great fun hearing them proudly say their letters, new words and even sing songs. But as I heard them I was reminded again of how much goes into their little minds at that age. They so easily parrot back what they hear, memorize and develop their abilities.

But they also soak up what we say, good or bad, how we act and the way we respond to things. I remember when Tim was still young enough to be carried and his vocabulary was still developing. He and I were returning from somewhere and so I was carrying him to our back door and we were about to enter the house.

However, as I fumbled in the dark with my keys and then tried to open the door, I heard him say, "Shoot, daddy, shoot." It took me a few seconds but all of a sudden I realized he was simply saying what I'd said on previous occasions when trying to get the key into the lock. Yes, I would say "Shoot." Thankfully it wasn't worse. He probably thought that if you say "shoot" the door will open better.

So, let's think for a minute about meaning what we say in this context. Are those words we say in anger towards our spouse really what we mean to say to both our spouse and in front of the kids? Or when we blow up at the kids themselves and don't use better and more effective ways to get them to obey, is that the message we mean to send to them? Whether we meant it or not they will likely remember or model it.

In the book of Proverbs in the Bible it says in chapter 12, verse 18, "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." And reckless words are often remembered by our child or children for a long time. Much of what our children say and how they see it is what they say because of us!

As I listened to those tapes I was stunned a bit at how much my son now sounds like I did in that recording. I was about his current age back then. But more importantly, I need to be asking myself, "But does he sound like me as a person - did I help him positively develop his morality and character so he sounds like me in ways that count more than tone of voice? " I think so, though I was far from perfect as a dad.

Nonetheless, if you as a parent now of young children will think about what you want to say that your kids will take with them into adulthood, you will do some things right and you'll look back someday and go, "Yes, I really meant to say that and I'm glad I did!"
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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