The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit. — Proverbs 18:21
Just the other day I received an email from a teacher that troubled me. She informed me that my son had said some not-so-nice things to a girl in his class and made her cry… twice. At first I was shocked, and then I was embarrassed. The young lady she mentioned was someone my son was very fond of. They’d been in class together for a long time and seemed to get along great.
I was tempted to defend my son and tell his teacher that he likes to tease and surely he didn’t mean what he said. After all, what he said wasn’t even close to being true. I wanted to explain that he has two big sisters and as a result knows things about girls that other ten-year-old boys don’t; it’s not his fault.
But I knew better. According to the Bible, the careless use of words is unacceptable.
The thing is, while my family and I know that words matter, we’ve used them haphazardly. I hate to admit it, but I’ve tolerated the teasing among my kids because after a long day I’m exhausted and don’t feel like correcting. I’ve overlooked sarcasm and ever so subtle shaming in the television series we watch because the other parts of the show are funny and I need a bit of comic relief.
I can teach my kids to use their words wisely, but it’s meaningless unless it’s translated into our everyday. Without realizing it, I’d created a family culture that reflected not what I believed but what I accepted in my home.
Family culture is a combination of what you create and what you allow.
The teacher assured me this was out of character for my son and that she was surprised this happened. When questioned, he admitted to being unkind and was sorry for how he’d chosen to use his words; they were simply joking, and it had gone too far. He sincerely apologized to both the teacher and his friend, then missed two days of recess.
It’s never too early to teach our kids what the Bible says about how to use our words. Not only can we memorize scripture with our kids on the topic, but we can read them books like With Love, From Me to You. It’s a board book by bestselling author Dr. Mary Manz Simon that shows children how important their actions and words are in expressing God’s great love with one another.
Creating the family culture we want depends on aligning our beliefs with our actions. Now that I’ve identified the gap between the two I can make the necessary changes to eliminate it.
I can’t guarantee that my son will never misuse his words again, but I can continue to foster an understanding of God’s Word and our family values so he will be equipped to make better choices in the future.
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What trips you or your family up the most when it comes to watching your words? What are some practices you can start in your family to avoid being careless with your speech?
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