Death and life are in the power of the tongue. – Proverbs 18:21
Our house is full of talking! Chatting, serious discussions, school lessons, reciting, laughter, playing, and questions, questions, questions! As moms, we interact verbally with our children from morning until night. And how sweet it is, sometimes, as we close the door at night on sleeping little ones and enjoy a few moments (hopefully) of blessed quietness, right? Since I interact so much with my children, I think it’s good to take some time to evaluate how I use my words with our children. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” I have the opportunity daily to speak death or breathe life into our children, every time I open my mouth!
It’s scary to think that, at times, my words can be like “death” to others. Death is simply the loss of life. Are my words squelching or “killing” my child’s spirit? Another definition that Webster adds for “death” is “anything so dreadful as to be like death.” Oh dear! That is not what I want my children to “hear” when I speak.
Using my tongue for “death” can be having a critical or overly-picky spirit with my child. Do I become their #1 critic the second they walk in the room? Am I impatient or tense when I speak with my children? Is anger a characteristic of the way I communicate? What about silence? Do I overlook them frequently in order to continue doing whatever it is that I am doing? These are some traps that we as moms can fall into when it comes to speaking with our children.
On the flip-side, it is humbling to realize that God wants to use us moms as instruments of life for our children! What does it mean to speak life to our kids?
I think the first way we communicate life is to offer praise frequently! It has been recommended that for every correction, we should offer at least five (or even ten) praises. That’s a hard job, moms! As parents, we are the ones responsible for training our children and shaping their character, and it’s easy to see their flaws, rather than purposefully looking for strengths to praise, but it is oh, so important! It takes consternation, at times, to find things to praise, but we need to make it a daily habit to encourage and praise our children in the ways of the Lord!
Secondly, we can pray with our children and talk about God. We can make it a habit to not just pray before meals and bedtime, but before we leave the house, before the school day or a hard test, before we begin a project, or we can offer praise to God when someone completes a hard task or finishes a project. I can mention God and invoke His help whenever we are working on something together, or as I pass the piano, I can give my child a smile, a pat on the back, and an encouraging word about how God is right there to offer them strength as they work for Him. As I lay my baby down for a nap, I can remind her about how much Jesus loves her and is watching over her. When someone falls and needs a band-aid and a little TLC, we can pray and ask for healing. We can not only pray with them, but we can speak life to them by telling them often that we are praying for them.
Another characteristic of “life-giving” speech is a spirit of long-suffering and charity. Even when my child is misbehaving or blatantly rebelling, a spirit of love ought to permeate my communication with them. Colossians 3:14 says that charity is the “bond of perfectness.” And oh, how we as mothers need to “put on” charity each and every day!
Lastly, life can be breathed into our children simply by taking the time to speak with them. How often do we go about our day without truly communicating with one another? There are all sorts of statistics about the amount of true, quality conversation that goes on within homes, and it’s staggeringly small! Am I taking the time to truly listen to my child as he pours out his heart about his latest Lego creation? Do I ask intelligent questions and patiently wait for answers from little hearts? Do I respect these little souls by giving them eye contact and setting aside my task, project, screen-time, or whatever it is that I am occupied with in order to truly communicate with them when they have something to say? Conversation with a toddler or preschooler can be a bit tedious at times. Sometimes, as moms, we crave adult conversation and a break from childish talk. But as my “big” kids are entering those “tween” years and beginning to ask real questions and have adult-like conversations, I am realizing how fast time flies. They so much want to be heard and understood! And what a precious gift we as moms have been given to be able to hear their little hearts and point them towards Christ.
Let’s take the numerous opportunities that we are given each day to speak life to our children. Our families so much need to hear words of life from their mother’s heart!