Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil. 1 Peter 3:10
Our words are an incredibly important tool for understanding and communicating with our kids. What we say, and how we convey what we say, can make the difference between drawing closer to the hearts of our sons and daughters and hurting them with an insensitive or inappropriate remark.
I thought about the impact of our words when I read a story by former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose father never affirmed her as a child. When she was in high school, she brought home a report card with an A grade in every subject. She proudly showed it to her dad, hoping for approval or praise. Instead he said, “Well, you must be attending an easy school.” Thirty-five years later, that thoughtless remark is still etched in Mrs. Clinton’s mind. That father may have considered it a casual quip, but it created a point of pain for his daughter that has endured to this day.
If you doubt the power of words, remember what John the disciple wrote under divine inspiration. He said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). John was describing Jesus, the Son of God, who was identified personally with words. Can a better case be made than that? Matthew, Mark, and Luke each describe a related prophetic statement made by Jesus that confirms the eternal nature of His teachings. He said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35). We remember what Christ said to this hour, more than two thousand years later.
Words are a mighty instrument with lasting power to enlighten, encourage, and heal—or, when used carelessly, to wound and destroy. How we use them has eternal impact: “Your words now reflect your fate then: either you will be justified by them or you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:37, tlb). As parents, let’s choose words that always benefit our kids and bring glory to God.
-Shirley M Dobson
Illustration adapted from Martha Sherrill, “Mrs. Clinton’s Two Weeks out of Time: The Vigil for Her Father, Taking a Toll Both Public and Private,” Washington Post, 3 April 1993, C1, as quoted in Bringing Up Boys copyright © 2001 by James Dobson, Inc. Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved.