And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. –Ephesians 6:4
Have you ever had the unfortunate experience of overhearing a conversation you did not intend or want to hear? This happened to me the other day in a grocery store parking lot. I was walking back to my car after shopping when I passed a man and a teenage girl, presumably his daughter, having what sounded like a heated conversation. As I passed by I heard the man say to the girl, “Retire? How can I retire? I can never retire and it’s because of you!” I know better than to interfere with other peoples’ conflicts, but my heart ached for this girl. The man said something she may negatively remember the rest of her life.
I know what the man said to the girl, but what do you think she heard? I believe she heard something like, “You are a terrible burden to me and you’re causing me a lot of trouble – more than you’re worth.” I walked away from this considering all the times I have spoken harsh words to my sons in moments of exasperation that I later regretted. The only way to overcome the harsh words we have spoken in the past is to resolve to no longer speak them. The next step is to cover our children with positive words of encouragement.
The following are my suggestions of things we should say to our children:
1. I love you. These simple words speak volumes, and no matter how old our kids get, keep telling them this.
2. I am proud of you. The world will point out our kid’s mistakes, so it is up to us to let them know how proud we are of their accomplishments.
3. You can accomplish this. Listen when our children speak of their goals, hopes, and dreams. Encourage them with the reminder that anything is possible if they trust God and set their minds to it.
4. I am here for you. It’s up to us to let our kids know they can count on us when they need us. When my sons were teenagers, we made a pact that if they were ever in a situation and needed me to come and get them, I would come, no questions asked. Remind them that if they are at someone’s house and there is alcohol or drugs and they do not want to be there, they can call you and you will come – without judgment or lecture.
5. You have a bright future. This is the polar opposite of telling a kid how worthless he or she is, and believe me, countless children are often told such hateful words. Remind our children often that they are unique individuals of unlimited worth and potential.
6. So, how’re you doing? Are we truly willing to listen when our children speak to us? If you have a trusting relationship in which your kids are willing to talk to you, then you are blessed, my friend. Nurture this trust and let your kids know when they want to talk, you are willing to listen.
7. I’m sorry. If we have failed our kids in some way, spoken harsh words, or were not there when they needed us, then a heartfelt apology is in order. Swallow your pride and tell them you are sorry. You may be surprised by the results.
Are there helpful and encouraging words you would add to the list? How may I pray for you and your family today? Start a discussion. As always, you may post anonymously.
Family is God’s gift to us. Cherish them and nurture them.
God bless you.