Words matter. I know that’s not exactly something you haven’t heard before (or said yourself), but it hit me in an entirely new way recently.
A couple of weeks ago my daughter did something that was really, really thoughtful.
You see, my wife had just left the house with our son…without his swimsuit… on “Water Day.” Both of us had forgotten. You CANNOT be the parents who forgot a swimsuit on water day. That scar never heals.
Emily called to ask me if I could drop it off and our daughter overheard the conversation. Before I even hung up the phone, Kaylee, who is only 6, went and got the boy’s swimsuit and towel, packed it in a bag, and brought it to me.
I know, right?!
That night at dinner I thanked her in front of the whole family. Her face lit up and I realized I don’t do that enough.
I’m quick to point out what my kids do wrong, but I often forget to mention what they do right.
Negativity, criticism, and complaining can spew out of my mouth faster than Clark Griswold sledding down a hill.
“Don’t touch that!”
“Would you just eat?”
“Leave your sister alone!”
“We don’t have time for this!”
“Can you be still for one minute?!”
“What were you thinking?”
“You know better!”
Any of those sound familiar?
If you’re a parent, at some point, some or all of those phrases are inevitable. But every now and then, I look back on a day or a week and realize that’s all I’ve said. There wasn’t really any positive…kind…uplifting words mixed in.
Those also seem to be some of the most stressful days and weeks in my house.
Coincidence? Probably not.
As I reflected on the events around my daughters thoughtfulness, it hit me just how important words really are. For some reason my mind wandered to the book of Genesis where God said, “Let there be light.”
God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.”
God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.”
In order to create the heavens and the earth and everything in it, God spoke.
He could have just thought it. He could have just waved his arms or pointed his finger, but He didn’t. He spoke words.
That reminded me of the undeniable power words have. That reminded me that each word we speak, especially to a 6…8…10…15 year old…has the power to build up or tear down…to comfort or inflict pain…to build trust or remove it.
Our kids are impacted by the power of the words we speak every single day. The question is what type of impact is that going to be? Positive or negative?
My kids do a lot of things right. I bet yours do to. Let’s point those things out more often.
Oh, and there’s something else I’ve noticed…the more negative I am, the more negative my children are.
Words matter. What are you saying to your kids?
I know I’ve got some work to do.