If we could hear a recording of ourselves talking to our children and our family members would it change us? Would we cringe at every harsh word or tone? Would we laugh at the conversations we’d had the day before?
The funny this is, that if we want to know how we talk to our children and what they hear…we just need to listen to them talk to their siblings. What do they say? How do they sound?
I struggle with being overly critical. I grew up with a lot of critique and very high expectations and I knew when I didn’t meet them. I grew up desperately wanting to please those around me and it took me the first few years of our marriage to get out of that habit. I also grew up setting high expectations for myself and for those around me, including my children. I have, at times, struggled with being critical of them in the same way I swore I would never be.
I had a convicting moment this last week. I heard one of my children critiquing his brother about how he had done something. Older brother to younger. Older brother used the same words and the same tone that I have used…and I cringed. I was humbled and convicted. In that moment I prayed for forgiveness for not showing patience and kind words to my children. I prayed for God to stop those words before they come out of my mouth and to change my thoughts before they become words. I prayed it wasn’t too late to soften the harsh edge that has already begun to develop in my son.
A gentle answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.
It is so easy for the harsh words to just come flying out if we’re not guarding ourselves against frustration, anxiety and busyness. I have learned that when I am trying to “multi-task” too much, when I am trying to do 3 things at once that my patience and tolerance decrease significantly. I have had to be more disciplined with my time and what I allow to pull me away from where I am with my children. When my “work” duties interrupt my “mom” duties or visa versa, I get frustrated and short. I have slowly learned to put up boundaries and to be willing to put some things on the back burner for later. It means I have to be a better manager of my time, but it keeps me from getting so overwhelmed I say things I regret.
I encourage you this week to think about how you’re talking to your children, your family and your spouse. If we can engage our “filter” when we’re at work or church and avoid saying hurtful things there…we should be able to engage it at home too. Ask yourself would I talk to a co-worker or friend the way I’m about to talk to my child or spouse? Would I use this tone with them? Ask God how He would have you communicate with your family and children? What heart issues are there that keep you from using your words to build up your family?
If you really want some insight…ask your spouse how you communicate with your children or them. And remember words can cause deep, long lasting wounds. You’re teaching your children how to be as parents…you’re teaching them how to treat your grandchildren.
He who is slow to anger has great understanding,
But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.
30 A tranquil heart is life to the body,
But passion is rottenness to the bones.