Our Words as a Parent

I haven’t been a parent for very long. In fact, my daughter will be two in November; so I still consider myself a new parent. During my time with my daughter, I have learned a lot about what it means to be a parent. Being a parent has more responsibilities that others don’t normally think of. Sure, there are the normal parent responsibilites of feeding your child, making sure they don’t get hurt, getting them to bed on time, etc. But the hidden responsibilities are often times the hardest ones.

The responsibilities I am talking about are raising your child to be respectful, gentle but strong, and using kind words. Often times these seem like they are daunting tasks and during my two years with my daughter, I have learned a huge lesson and that lesson has to do with my words.

Every parent will tell you to be careful with what words you say in front of your child but it is more than just cussing or using inappropriate language. It is the tone you use and the way we speak to our children in times of discipline. It even comes down to the conversations and tone when speaking with your spouse. These tones are things our children notice.

I’ve noticed, lately, that my daughter is not only copying the words I say but the tone in my voice and the attitude I have. Her attitude towards my husband and me has become a mirror of how I act towards her and my husband.

During moments of discipline, my tone towards my daughter is important. Often times, my tone slips from being a firm but gentle discipline to a harsh raised tone that often teeters towards yelling. So what are good tones to take with our children?

I am no expert. However, these are the tips I have learned with my daughter:

  1. Keep a gentle but firm tone- No parent wants their child to learn that it is okay to walk all over their parents so it is crucial to be firm in our direction. I don’t like disciplining my daughter (who does right?), but often times I struggle with being too firm or being too soft. Being too soft does not tell your child that what they are doing is wrong. They often believe they can get away with what they are doing because their parent (or guardian) is not serious in the command that has been given. So make sure to be that gentle but firm disciplinary.
  2. Yelling is a mistake- Yelling at a child and not staying calm can lead into a fearful child and/ or teach your child bad habits when it comes to communicating with others. I am not perfect and have definitely messed up in this area. I have lost my cool in stressful situations and instead of staying calm, I’ve yelled at my daughter. In return, I’ve noticed a tone in my daughter’s voice when she does not agree with me. When I tell her no or to put something away, her voice raises and there have been moments where she has tried to yell at me. Obviously the words are incoherent for a two year old who is still learning, but the tone she has learned is a dangerous one. It is instilling anger within my child instead of discipline. In those moments of frustration, stress and anxiety, we need to take a deep breath and calm myself before disciplining my child.

I want to raise a young woman who is strong but gentle. A young woman whose words are mighty like a rock but don’t tear others down. Part of being that young woman is using your words and your tone in a firm but gentle manner. It is better to instill those skills when our children are younger than to fight for them when our children are older. This is true for both young women and young men. We want to raise our sons to treat others with respect (men and women) and part of showing respect is being gentle with their words and their tone.

Ephesians 6:4 says, “do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” NIV This verse talks about how we shouldn’t exasperate our children but what does exasperate mean? The Miriam-Webster Dictionary defines exasperate as three things.

a. to cause irritation or annoyance
b. to excite the anger of
c. roughened with irregular prickles

The definition that catches my attention the most is the “roughened with irregular prickles”. When we exasperate our children with anger or irritate them, we are causing them to become rough in an irregular way. There is a difference between being strong and being rough in our heart. I think of making my daughter “rough” and that is not what I desire for my little girl. In order to avoid her growing a rough and hardened heart, I need to show her how to be firm and gentle with my words and tone.

I want to encourage all the parents out there who are reading this. Strive, in those moments of discipline, to be firm but gentle with your words. Instill in your child discipline but do it so that they remain gentle and not rough in their hearts. When you mess up (because we all do), talk with your child. Whether they are old enough to understand or not, talk with them about how you lost your cool and that wasn’t the right thing to do. Tell them that your tone and anger is never acceptable and that we all mess up but the important thing to do is try to be gentle again. Showing them that we all mess up is, yet, another way to teach our children important values.

 

 

More verses to keep in mind:

“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

Community is Necessary for Spiritual Growth

It has been a while since I have attended church on a regular basis. I grew up in the church and have gone to church almost every Sunday and even on Wednesday nights when I was a teenager. Over this past year, my church attendance has dwindled to almost never going.

I won’t sit here and tell you that you have to go, every Sunday, to church or you will go to hell. That is just incorrect and stupid. The ONLY way to get to heaven is through Jesus Christ. Having a relationship with Him and accepting Him as your Lord and Savoir. You can do that without going to church.

I will tell you that I believe community is an important part of your spiritual growth. We learn from others and see a different perspective on things. So for me, a year of on and off connection was a bad thing for my spiritual growth. I was going to a church that I thought would be our church family until the day I died. I was growing through the sermons, making friends who had kids the same age as my daughter, my husband began to learn how to be a preacher, and we were learning from our church community.

Well, things happened and the church started falling apart. It was then my husband and I realized that it was time to move on. There were hurtful words from the members who stayed and our hearts left heavy and broken. So we went to a church where my in-laws were attending. this time, there wasn’t any growth. I wasn’t growing spiritually, there weren’t any children my daughter’s age she could play with and learn from but my husband kept preaching and learning what it meant to become a preacher. I stayed in it for my husband but deep inside I felt stagnant. I was stuck in a place where I wasn’t growing and it was taking a toll on my spiritual relationship with the Lord.

Life happened and the church decided not to stand by our side but ridicule us instead; telling us we were wrong for everything that had happened in our life (things that had nothing to do with the church) and tore the preaching lessons away from my husband. Once again, we were broken and hurt by a church we trusted but let me make one thing clear before I move on. No church is perfect. Because the church is made up of a body of believers, it is also filled with individuals who all mess up; just like you and me. So in no way do I hate those individuals who hurt us. Yes, they were leaders of the church and was what they did right? No. they way they treated us was not the way anyone should be treated. However, I am, in no way, saying that church is bad, leaders of a church don’t also make mistakes, and no one will ever get hurt in a church. It happens.

So at this point, my husband and I were broken from two churches and didn’t know where to go. We still craved that community and spiritual growth that we both desperately needed. So once again, we went looking for a church and found one. It was a lot bigger for our taste but we decided to give it a shot. We attended there for about five months and during that time, we went through one of the hardest times of our marriage thus far. We went to the pastor and asked for counseling. We were set up for counseling but didn’t feel like anyone really cared.

The counseling fell through and we felt like no one really cared about helping us or encouraging us. We stopped attending church and even stopped reading our bibles. Our spiritual life grew dry and I felt like I was shriveling up. I was spiritually wasting away to nothing and I was growing further and further away from God.

My husband’s schedule eventually changed and he could not longer look for a church with me. He now works every Sunday morning. However, I didn’t want it to end there. I yearned for the community I once knew and the growth I once had in my life. I turned to a church I grew up in here in Colorado and decided to start attending.

You might think, well why did you leave that church in the first place? I left because I went to college four hours away from this church. After I graduated from college, I moved to another small mountain town where I met my husband. When we moved back to the Denver area, we wanted to start fresh together in a church where no one knew us and that is when we found the first church I discussed in this article.

When I entered the doors of my now current church, I felt like I was home and had never left. Everyone was very welcoming and warm and very inviting to my family. I left that day feeling complete again. Now, every Sunday, I want to go back and join the community in events, worship and even join a bible study.

My point throughout all this is that community is an important part of our spiritual growth. It might take us a little while to find the right community or the right church to fit in to but when you do find it, stick with it. I learn so much from the people of Good News Community Church every single week. The lessons we all have learned can be passed on to each other and we can be there for each other when hard times come around. That is a valuable thing to have in your life.

So if you think community is necessary for your spiritual growth and you feel like you are shriveling up and drying out, try to find that community. I promise, when you find the right church for you and you stick with it, you will grow in ways you never thought possible.