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

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Our Kids Often Hear Things We Didn't Intend

Recently our three-year-old grandson Liam had his hands over his ears and announced to us all, "You can't hear me!"  Of course he just had things a bit confused, pretty normal for a little guy his age.

However, Liam's actions could be a description of many parents and the way they talk in their homes. They say things to one another believing that their kids never hear their comments or they make remarks that they believe won't bother their children. In both cases they are usually wrong. They can hear you much of the time.

Why?  Well sometimes they're in the house and actually hear what we say. Their radar is often tuned for the sound of our voice or sometimes they intentionally get close enough to us when we're not looking to hear what we say about them. And in those moments, intentionally or not, we sometimes send the message that they aren't smart or good enough or as gifted as a sibling.

Other times, we are speaking directly to them intending to say one thing but they hear something else. For example, we say that one of the kids is particularly talented in some skill, sport or academic area. We don't mean to slight the other but that's how they take it.  "What about me?" they may think.

Third, they may hear things indirectly that we've said about them through someone else.  We may have told an aunt, grandparent, neighbor or church leader something negative about them and all of a sudden our cute or clever story gets back to our child. All they know is that we were talking about them and they think the worst.

Of course, we live in a culture where telling kids they are wonderful, bright, talented and a winner is often overdone. I'm not suggesting we encourage that kind of overblown praise.  But we do need to be wise and careful about our words.

Always make sure your kids are out of earshot when you have to have hard conversations about them, their schoolwork or talents. Be careful what stories and tales you tell others. Ask yourself what you child might think if that story came back to them.

Consider the words you use when you talk to one child about their abilities and not another. Be sure to find talent and ability in both kids even though their skills may be very different. My sister and I both tried art and music but we clearly went different directions when we got older. My parents figured that out thankfully.

Proverbs wisely tells us in chapter 18, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue."  Remember the power of your words this week. They matter.

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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