What’s in a Word? Words Do Matter.
Words do matter, the ability to communicate makes us human. Words connect us to each other, they spark our imagination and give us hope. On the other side, words can be divisive, it can be considered hate language and incite riots. We as parents and homeschoolers should take note and not let this teaching moment go unchecked.
How do we teach our children that words matter? How do we explain that what they utter can impact those around them? The best way is by our example. We are the frontline for our children and the way we respond is the way we get a good response back from those we love.
Words do matter – especially when we say things that are uplifting and encouraging. Words also matter when they are hurtful and condemning. We often talk, out of anger without thinking–and then we pick up the pieces. We have plenty of reasons, for speaking angrily, but truthfully they are excuses.
Words matter like…
~ I love you
~ I’m getting married.
~ I’m going to have a baby
~ “It’s a boy,” or “It’s a girl.”
Life’s progression is beautiful and we are given an amazing capacity to communicate wisely, especially to those we love the most. And here is the problem…it is often those we love the most that we hurt with our words. We are kind to strangers and friends. What about at home? What about with those we are around most of the time?
I know, kids can try your patience. I have five of them. Yet, I had many excuses for speaking unkindly.”I am Italian.” , “I speak my mind.” , “What you see is what you get.” , “There is no need to pretend.” , “Kids are resilient.” Maybe you’ve used one or more of these excuses, or maybe some I haven’t thought about. We can fool ourselves into believing a lie – and that is a belief that words don’t hurt.
They do and many adults walk around with old wounds that have not healed. And that is the issue at heart. While we’ll agree that words do matter, we need to prepare to speak love and truth, but in a way that avoids becoming angry and losing your temper. It also has much to do with the way we phrase our words. “Get that for me,” can become, “Would you please bring that here?”
With a little preparation, we can arm ourselves with caution, prepare for future incidents, and teach our children valuable lessons as well. You can practice good conversation or appropriate answers. Recently when I called my oldest son, he answered the phone, “What?” I said, let me hang up and call you back again because that is not an acceptable way to answer your mom.” I called back, he said, “Hello?” and I said, “Much better.” He then apologized that something had happened right before I called and he was irritated. Typical right – of all of us!
I recall a conversation my daughter had with my then four-year-old granddaughter. The conversation went something like this:
Samantha: “Mommy did you bring my sippy cup?”
Mom: “No, I’m sorry I didn’t.”
Samantha: “Well, that’s not thinking of others!”
The exchange is hilarious because her parent’s modeled behavior was given back. How many times had her mother said, “You are not thinking of others?” This became a natural way for this four-year-old to respond to her own mother. She spoke the truth and we adults were careful not to laugh outright! But what struck me is the child’s ability to articulate her thoughts, no temper tantrum, no tears, just facts. Her mother was quick to remind her of the responsibility to gather belongings before leaving home. By analyzing the times you, your children, or your spouse speak harshly, you can avoid adverse situations.
We’ve recently been bombarded with words in politics, mostly sound bytes that are irritating and annoying used on social media and in the news. Most have reacted angrily and this has caused an epidemic of “unfriending” on Facebook. How can this be avoided? Speak with truth and agree to disagree if necessary. Speaking in anger does not win arguments or make friends–it has the reverse effect.
I think one of the most chilling use of words is to cloak evil as good, such as in the discussion over abortion. “Pro-Choice” is a term used to spin the idea of abortion into a favorable light. Who would not like choice? So, the proponents of anti-abortion say, “Pro-Life” to explain their position clearly. And, what about the recent “March for Women’s Rights” … sure, I want rights for women. They were chanting, “This is what democracy looks like.” Sure. I want democracy. However, I couldn’t sign their statement of beliefs. However, I successfully managed to discuss my differences with them here. Yep, words matter. Use them wisely my friends.
How do you use words in a positive sense?