The classroom gossip. The boy who never has a kind word to say about anyone.
The girl no-one trusts because she repeats everything she hears. If those words describe one of your children, it’s time to take a close look at the words YOU say.
Children learn what they live. Do we need more negativity, pessimism, cynicism in our society? What are we modelling with our language? Are our children hearing us criticise and gossip about our neighbours, relatives, co-workers, acquaintances? If they hear us engaging in this type of talk, they will tend to do the same.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”.
As parents, we can edit that by saying “I will be the change I want to see in my children”.
Rather than allowing our mouths to be mouthpieces for yet more evil forces, pouring out unkind and critical judgemental words, we can train ourselves to become mouthpieces for Christ, pouring out compassion, respect and prayer.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph 4:29).
What has this to do with parenting? EVERYTHING. Have you heard yourself sounding just like your father, mother, grandparent or guardian? We are great imitators. We do it subconsciously and our children are doing it subconsciously too, copying us and mentally recording our behaviour and words.
We hope, that by the grace of God, they will choose with their willpower not to copy our destructive traits and imitate our positive ones. Make no mistake though: everything we say and do is being recorded in their subconscious minds.
Instead of saying “Our neighbour is always so grumpy. Let’s avoid him as much as we can!”, we can say “Our neighbour clearly isn’t happy. Let’s pray for him to find healing and peace”.
Instead of saying “Uncle Roger’s wife finally left him. It’s good for him! He’s a pig!”, we can say “Uncle Roger and his wife are going through a difficult time right now. We should show them compassion and pray for them”.
Let’s learn to listen to our own voice and tame the wild horse that is critical and judgemental.
We can train ourselves to be empathetic towards those we are tempted to criticise, considering that maybe they are behaving inappropriately because they are harbouring deep pain, or fears of rejection, failure or inadequacy.
We can use our God-given willpower to speak respectfully and lovingly about others. We can utter compliments and admiration for the good others do and how they look.
SEE the good! THINK the good! SPEAK the good! Resolve to add this to your daily to do list.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (Phil 4:8).
Let’s use this knowledge to engender good habits so they would have something positive, loving and inspiring to imitate.
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