The following blog is by Autumn Ward, a Youth Ministry mom and blogger.
Not long ago, my husband and I were asked to share with a group of parents what we would do again in regards to raising our kids. We began asking ourselves, if we had to go all the way back to the beginning (20 years ago) and start over, what would we choose to do again?We had some great talks as we looked back over the years and came up with five things we’re so glad we did – things we would without a doubt choose to do again. I shared first about how we are glad we chose to imagine the end, but today I want to talk about words that build.
Yes, we would, without a doubt, choose to speak words that build, again.
We probably have a few memories of words someone said to us that either built us up or tore us down.
Maybe they were phrases we heard our parents say a lot, and now they are a part of us.
Some of them we repeat without thinking, while others pop into our thoughts like a little voice influencing the way we think about the world around us and about ourselves, without us even realizing it.
Sometimes this is a good thing – like when I tell my kids so easily, “Mama loves you” the same way my mom would tell me when I was growing up.
Other times, it’s not such a good thing – like when I get angry and spew this hateful, “I’ll tell you one thing…” that makes even me not want to be around me.
(I never really know what the “one thing” is going to be before it comes out of my mouth. It’s never filtered and consists of 100% raw yuck emotion.)
I don’t have to tell you words are powerful. They can sting for a moment, days, or even weeks. But words repeated over time? Those have the potential to shape a heart and mind for a lifetime.
That’s why we’re glad we decided long ago to strategically choose some words that build.
Words that we could fall back on when we felt like spewing some not so encouraging words.
A few words and phrases that we would choose to repeat in hopes that our kids would carry them in their hearts and thoughts long after they set out on their adult journey.
There’s no right or wrong list. The only requirement is that the words you choose build up your child.
We chose words like…
“I love you no matter what.”
“I’m so glad God gave you to me.”
“Love God. Love people.”
“You are so beautiful/handsome.”
“I love hanging out with you.”
“Even if you weren’t my kid, I’d pick you to be my friend.”
“Let it go.” (In reference to forgiving others and not arguing, not the movie Frozen)
“I was wrong for (specific action). Will you forgive me?”
“Go make it a great day!”
“You can’t choose what other people will say and do. You can only choose for yourself.”
“You and God are writing your story together. There will be parts He writes that you can’t change, but what you choose to say and do will be the part you get to write.”
“Treat others the way you want to be treated.”
“You can trust God, no matter what.”
“Make the wise choice.”
“Have courage and be kind.” (Totally from the movie Cinderella. My girls loved it and I text it almost daily.)
And then there are about a dozen corny Bible verse songs from when they were preschoolers that I’ll still break out and sing. Music is a great way to memorize scripture!
The idea is to fill our kids’ hearts and minds with as many words as we can that build them up and equip them to be spiritually strong, so that when the day comes for them to go out on their own, they’ll take all those words with them. The only way to do that is to say them over and over and over again.
The truth is words like, “I give up” and “I hate life,” will come out with zero thought or effort.
Words like, “I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” Well, those take a lot of practice and intentionality.
You have to work at the words worth remembering.
Write down a few key words/phrases you can repeat over time that you want your child to carry with them when they leave. Are there some words/phrases you need to stop saying?