The Power of a Parent’s Words

“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

Words are powerful! Whoever said, “sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me” was a liar! Or stupid. Words can build up … or tear down.

You’ve experienced the power of words–both positive and negative–in your life, right?

As parents, especially as our kids get older, we may wonder if our kids are really listening. If they were truly listening–even just a little–we wouldn’t have to repeat ourselves so often!

While we may wonder if our kids are listening, we can be confident that they are watching. They may not hold on to every nugget of wisdom–or even simple directions– but they do remember the big picture.

Think about a computer screen for a moment; the overall image is created by thousands and thousands of pixels (unless you aren’t on a  Mac, then your screen probably has 20 pixels). When you look at the screen, you look at the entire picture, not each individual pixel.

Our kids perceive our words in the same way. They don’t remember every single word or each individual conversation, each if these are simply small pixels making up a larger picture. Every conversation is important! You can’t have a big picture without small pixels. But a single good conversation won’t overcome a hundred bad ones.

Consider your words from the past week or so. As you think about the things you said directly to your kids (and the conversations you’ve had with others in front of them), ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did your kids form an overall picture what is wholesome?
  • Did they see you building others up according to their needs?

As a church family, let’s make a commitment to using better words to and around our kids. When we choose to honor Christ in this way, not only do we build strong families, but we also have a strong “witness” to the world. People in our community will notice that we are different because of the way we speak to one another!

Three Dollar Grace

Every morning, I drive my oldest son two miles to his school. I love that time. I look forward to it. I consistently pray about it and ask God to give me the right things to say. Every morning looks a little different—and this is a result of my personality rather than my design. Some mornings, I pray for the entire trip. Most mornings we talk about small things. Sometimes, we don’t talk at all—we both consider the morning to be a bitter enemy.

The other day he asked for some money (which, at this point, is still rare). “How much?” I asked.

“One dollar—it’s for school.” As I reached into my wallet, I had the idea to give him everything I had—a whapping three dollars—to make a point. He accepted it with a smile.

“Do you know why I gave you way more than you asked for?”

“No.” The smile turned into a slight smirk…he was expecting a joke, I think. I joke a lot.

“I want you to remember something. I gave your more than you asked for because God does the same thing—if you ask for what you need, he gives you more than you expect. When you ask for what you don’t need, he doesn’t give it, because he knows it’s not in your best interest. So, our responsibility toward God goes in at least two directions. We ask and we trust. We should ask for what we want and trust God to provide what we need. Growing up means learning what God wants for our lives. If we don’t get what we need, then we have some wrong ideas about our needs. Now, tell me, why did I give you more than you asked?”

Later that night, I pulled up Ephesians (3:20) and said, here’s the principle I was talking about this morning:

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us”

I don’t get these ideas very often—I’m not creative in this way. The day after this we talked about pro-football and video games. It’s not realistic to “hit a homerun” every morning. My goal is to be intentional: to pray and think so that I might see where God might be leading.