Being slow to speak is a really hard thing for me to master. I am quick-witted which is not necessarily a good thing. Sure I can make people laugh pretty easily, but I really have to work hard on holding my tongue. I started writing this post about things you should never say to your kids, and then after I had my list I thought I would check the wonderful world wide web to see if there were other similar lists out there. I was really surprised at the stupid things I was reading. Like, seriously. I feel like there was article after article of nonsense. Like…don’t tell your kids “good job” tell them instead specifically what they did that was good. Um. What? So the next time Ry scores a goal for his team, just picture me screaming this:
YAY RY! YOU REALLY GOT AROUND THAT LAST DEFENDER IN SUCH A SKILLED MANNER AND MANAGED TO HIT THE BALL JUST RIGHT SO THAT IT WENT IN THE BACK OF THE NET AND JUST PAST THE GOALIE TO GIVE YOUR TEAM EXACTLY WHAT THEY NEEDED!
Or I can just yell good job. Either way. Look…all I’m saying is that at least half the articles out there are what are making us as moms totally and completely paranoid! And I really think it’s a trap. Think about it. If we are so paranoid that we are going to mess up our kids because of the fact that we have been saying good job with every picture they colored, or play dough creation they made, or good grade they got over the last 10 years…where does that leave us?
Well, for one. It puts way more power on us than needs to be there. Yes. We need to be purposeful. We need to make sure we are raising our kids to be God-honoring, respectful, hard working kids. But. Ultimately? God is the one who is in charge of my kids and their lives. Not me. I could blow it over and over and over. And still, God’s mercy could shine through and they could be an absolute powerhouse for Him.
And secondly. In a world filled with anxiety and stress, the last thing we need is one more article that convinces us of what we already feared was true: we can ruin our kids. No. We don’t need one more thing to stress about.
So my point with this is not to say that if you say these three things to your kids, you have now ruined them for life. It is, however, to encourage you to be a little bit more slow to speak. It is to encourage you to realize the power that you have with your tongue and that you need to use it wisely. With that being said, here is my list of 3 things you should never say to your kids.
1. I love you, but I don’t like you right now. I can not stand when I hear parents say this to their kids. I looked up the word like and it means to take pleasure in, to feel affection for. Why. Why. Why would you ever want your child to think that you don’t take pleasure in them or feel affection for them? Do you know how many people in my lifetime have not (and still do not) like me? A lot. Do you know how many times your child is going to come home from school, or a game or even church and feel like someone doesn’t like them? A lot. If there is one person that I need to like me. To be on my side. To be for me. To feel affection for (even at my age now!) it’s my mom. I need my mom to be on my side. To be loving me and liking me. I am sure there are going to be many times you do not like your child’s behavior. Do not. Do not let your child see that you are deciding whether or not you like them based on their actions. Your children are not defined by one bad decision. Who they are as a person is not defined by an action. I think it’s ok to tell them we don’t like their behavior, we don’t like their actions or maybe the decisions they just made. But we should not be telling them we don’t like them. Honestly? I think it makes you sound like a middle school girl. No offense.
2. I’m fat. I have to admit. This one is hard for me. I never realized how much I talked about my weight until Riley started getting literally upset with me when I said it. Even now, If I was to say anything about my weight he would get mad at me. I don’t think we realize some of the things we say out loud when we are just home with our kids. Ya know what I mean? I will have a bowl of ice cream with my family and then as soon as I’m finished say..ugh. I shouldn’t have had that, I am so huge. Look. I know I’m not huge. But at the moment, I feel huge. And what it is showing my kids is that when you are 5’2″ and 120 pounds, that is fat. There have been times when both of my kids have made comments about their own weight and I take full responsibility. I have to do so much more work convincing them that they are not fat and I know that if I had just kept my mouth shut about myself in the first place, I wouldn’t even be having that conversation. Learn to appreciate your body, and if it is really bothering you? Don’t talk. Just don’t eat the stinking ice cream in the first place! There are enough people around your kids who are pushing the wrong message when it comes to appearance. Don’t be one more voice on the wrong side.
3. Your father is so __(fill in the blank)____ This might seem obvious to some of you, but it can actually be really difficult if you are the type to mutter things under your breath. Ya know, hypothetically of course! If your husband does something wrong, or is late coming home from work, or says something he shouldn’t say, do not put him down in front of your kids. Don’t mutter things about him under your breath. Instead, speak something positive.
If he calls at 6 saying he’s still at the office, and you had dinner ready for 6. What are your options? You can get off the phone and then say: Daddy’s gonna be late again. What else is new? Now dinner is gong to be cold! Waa waa waa. Or, you could say: Daddy’s gonna be late again. Aren’t you so thankful he has a job that can provide for us? Do you see the difference. One comment can plant a seed in your child’s heart that Daddy is always late, or irresponsible, or not very thoughtful. The other comment can plant a seed that Daddy is dedicated, hardworking, and takes care of his family. By using your words to build up your husband and not tear him down, you are demonstrating to your children what marriage should look like. Hard work, but so worth it. And isn’t that what you want? Don’t you want a strong marriage for your own child in the future? Work hard now so they have it easier later.
I’m sure there are many other things we should never say to our kids. I don’t agree that we should never say good job, or shhh, or don’t cry. I think we need to encourage them always, sometimes they do need to be quiet and sometimes they need to control their emotions and stop crying. Not always. But sometimes.
So the lists that get a little bit carried away reminded me of this. When I start thinking that I determine how my child turns out, it can kind of turn me into a prideful momma. I do work hard at raising my kids. Anyone who has known me for a long time knows that I am intentional with what I do. I am serious about responsibilities and discipline. But ultimately God is the one responsible for how they turn out. Humbling, to be sure.
Let’s be careful with our words. Using them to speak life into their hearts and minds. But let’s not get so carried away and anxious that we start thinking our words are what determine the ultimate outcome of their lives.