It is so hard to speak Life-giving words when a child is mean, in a long season of disobedience, or disappoints us by his decision. We might feel justified in the words that are swirling in our head and about to pop out of our mouth. But, it’s essential to remember the power of the tongue—that our words have the power to build up or to tear down.
When a child knows he is wrong and knows we are disappointed, hurt, or angry with him, well-chosen Life-giving words can be incredibly impactful. Listen in to learn why, plus some helpful exercises to speak Life-giving words in the midst of challenge and correction.
Resources for Episode 11: Life-Giving Words When Our Child Disobeys
- Hebrews 12.6
- Join me on Instagram @teresadglenn
- Grab a copy of my book Becoming A Peaceful Mom ~ Through Every Season of Raising Your Child
Read Episode 11 Transcript
I don’t know about you, but when one of our children talked back, disobeyed, got caught doing something they shouldn’t, or instigated sibling drama for the umpteenth time, the farthest thought from my mind was to say something loving and upbuilding. I wanted to give them a piece of my mind — from whatever feelings the incident stirred in me—hurt, discouragement, anger, disappointment. I wanted my child to feel remorse, to feel bad about what he had done. And all the words to do this were right there on the tip of my tongue and too often made their way to my child’s heart.
Have you ever been in this place with your child?
Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids so much that I could pop. They are my favorite people in this world—and I know that you feel the same way about yours. I know that part of my reaction is because I want the best for them.
But—I think that many days we find ourselves at this crossroad—between speaking words of life or speaking words of death. I failed miserably at this more times that I want to admit. I knew better and told myself I would do better the next time, but that combo seldom works. We need God’s help.
Life-giving words express high value, sustain, support, and renew. So, what are some of those words and how do we muster them, when our feelings in-the-moment seem the opposite?
It’s hard to speak Life-giving words when a child is mean, in a long season of disobedience, or disappoints us by his decision. We might feel justified in the words that are swirling in our head and about to pop out of our mouth. But, it’s essential to remember the power of the tongue—that our words have the power to tear down or build up. When we criticize, judge, reject, speak harshly, or yell, we tear down our child.
When he knows he is wrong and knows we are disappointed, hurt, or angry with him, well-chosen Life-giving words can be incredibly impactful and inspiring.
When a child disobeys or disappoints us, she is confronted by one or both of the people who mean the most to her. She is likely swimming in a pool of guilt and shame. Guilt is feeling bad for what she’s done. Shame is feeling bad for who she is.
A child’s personal sense of well-being most often hinges on where she feels she stands with you, so it’s crucial to affirm that first. Some Life-giving words to share are: I love you. I value you. You are important to me. I want the best for you.
Don’t assume your child knows this or believes it’s still true. He is a child, and he registers our facial expression, our tone, our words and draws conclusions or questions his standing in our heart. He needs to know and hear where he stands with us.
God knows that you and I need to know that he loves us, no matter what. And he makes sure we know where we stand with him – when we disobey. The writer of Hebrews reminds us in chapter 12.6, “the Lord disciplines the one he loves.”
This is our example to imitate. The way God loves us in and through our mess-ups is how he wants us to love our child in and through his. Otherwise, our words will be received as punitive, exacting, and performance-based, meaning she has to earn life-giving words from us and even our love.
These hard moments are our opportunity to trust God and follow his example as his beloved, forgiven child…our opportunity to extend the very grace that we have been given by God… and our opportunity to reflect God as we know him with the hope that one day our child will embrace him personally.
In addition, Life-giving words of forgiveness are vital. Five chapters of my book, Becoming A Peaceful Mom, are devoted to examples, scenarios, and personal stories within our family as we learned to navigate all sides of forgiveness–seeking it, giving it, and receiving it. So, I encourage you to get a cop.
Now, I want to share some things that helped me speak Life-giving words in the midst of challenge and correction.
Some days or weeks, parenting is so intense or hard that we neglect the care of our heart. We stuff our feelings or react impetuously and move on through the day. We forget we are a child, too, and need our heavenly Father to tend our heart and even redirect us at times.
My worst word-moments came about from this neglect. Friends, unchecked emotions are a force to be reckoned with. So, 2 questions to ask yourself:
1. How often do you check your emotions concerning each of your children and your relationship?
2. How have you invited God to be a part of that?
Make time to talk to God about challenging experiences with your child. Unload them and all your feelings into his hands. Invite his healing and refreshing. Do you have time for this? Yes—because God wants these minutes with you. He loves you.
Sometimes I got stuck in an attitude rut and my words showed it. Here are 4 practices that helped me:
- Mark how many years older you are than your child. This always humbled me because some of my themes of disobedience could be traced back to childhood. If I still need bucketloads of God’s grace, how much more does my child need to experience grace through me?
- Evaluate your expectations regularly. Are they age appropriate?
- Is fear influencing my words? Maybe a child does something that makes you worry that he could make the same mistakes you made. Or, perhaps you focus on the negative possibilities.
- Cleanse frequently. Ask God to cleanse you— to wash off the memory of painful or hurtful experiences from your child and to heal you. When I decided to do this, I kept forgetting! So, I made water my prompt. When I took a shower or washed my hands, I unloaded to God and prayed this.
The message of the mouth leaves a mark. May we leave many marks of love and encouragement on our child. Life-giving words are love letters to the soul. God has poured his love into you and will help you give his words to speak to your child.
You are the Source of Life and the Author of Life-Giving words. Thank you for every Life-Giving word you have spoken over us. Help us to draw daily from your reservoir of love, so that our words speak life and love. Amen.