How to speak to your children…Learning “Tongue Control”


Well, if we are truly honest, we parents do something big when it comes to raising children…

That big thing is called “FAIL!”

Yep.  If you are hesitant to admit it, just reread this post at the end of your day and let me know how perfectly it all went for you.

But I don’t believe that failure is a bad thing.

It could be, however, if we revel in it, wallow in it, or continue to live in it-making it our identity.

But let’s not do that.  Let’s take failure as an opportunity to learn, grow, and change.

Take a look at few big failures of our time or our history:

1.  Thomas Edison—told by a teacher that he was “too stupid to learn anything.”

2.  Abraham Lincoln—Lost jobs and runs for political office

3.  Albert Einstein—didn’t speak until 4, read until 7, and expelled eventually from school

4.  Walt Disney—fired for lack of imagination and good ideas

5.  Steve Jobs—fired from the company that he founded

6.  Michael Jordan—cut from his high school basketball team

Yep.  They definitely failed.  Above goes to show it’s true.

But here’s the catch.  They failed but they did not quit.

Let’s take a new look at these same “failures”:

1.  Thomas Edison—1000 failed attempts later he is the father of “light” or at least the light bulb

2.  Abraham Lincoln—Notably one of the most significant Presidents in the history of the United States

3.  Albert Einstein—Nobel Prize winner and world changer in modern physics

4.  Walt Disney—Mickey Mouse and the rest is history

5.  Steve Jobs—Used his firing to gain perspective, creativity, and came back a game changer-inventor of the iPod, iPhone, iPad

6.  Michael Jordan—Went on to become one of the NBA’s greatest players in history

We, as parents, need to keep in mind the famous mantra that we probably hear ourselves telling our very own children, “Try and try again!”

Or, in the words of Michael Jordan, I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

You see.  I have no doubt that you yell.

That you lose your cool.

That you say words that are not uplifting or kind—and YOU’RE the parent 😉

I have no doubt…

That you get frustrated.

Or that you lose your patience.

The list goes on.  And on.  And on.

But that’s okay.  Because for every item on that list, you have the opportunity to learn a lesson.  To teach a lesson.

When you yell.  Apologize.

When you lose your cool.  Apologize.

When you speak words that are unkind.  Apologize.

When you get frustrated.  Apologize.

When you lose your patience.  Apologize.

Apologize and then ask for forgiveness.

Children learn from us, the parents.  And part of growing is learning that we, the parents, are very imperfect human beings.   As much as we want to always be right, there are many occasions when we are wrong.

Showing your children that you can humble yourselves, admit what you did was wrong, apologize, and ask for forgiveness teaches your children a beautiful way to live their lives.  It shows human error, humility, and courage to change.

But you have to try hard to change.

You see—it’s okay if we fail.  We are imperfect.  But let’s not settle for failure.  Let’s strive for change.

Our children.  When they mess up.  We kiss and hug and tell them that we love them.   And, sure, they messed up or did something wrong.  But what is most important is that you tell them to learn from this—go forward and try not to make the same mistakes again.

When our daughter stole.  Yes, shoplifted, a mood ring from the local grocery store, we went through the entire process with her.

We gave her the opportunity to tell us if she stole or not.  She hesitantly admitted it.  Then we spoke to her that you don’t take something that does not belong to you.  We brought her to the store where she apologized and asked for forgiveness to the Assistant General Manager of the store, purchased the ring (using her money that she makes from selling her chicken’s eggs), donated the same amount of money to charity, and then donated the ring itself to a local clothing closet.

And we told our daughter that we loved her.  We were glad that she was brave enough to admit that what she did was wrong, emphasizing that we will always love her even though her actions will have consequences.  And, of course, we told her that we hoped she would never find it in her heart or sticky fingers to steal again.

You see—our daughter made a mistake.  And she suffered the consequences of that mistake.  But we encouraged her to not make that mistake again.  After all, it is not okay for her to run around stealing rings just because she feels that she wants it or is entitled to it—or even if she simply stole it because she had a bad day.  Wrong is wrong.  And she needs to learn to do what is right.

With our words, we sometimes forget that they are mistakes that also need to be rectified and worked on.

It’s okay to make mistakes, but we must try hard to not make the same mistakes.

The story goes that there is a dad and a son.  And the dad gives the son some nails and a piece of wood.  He hands his son a hammer and tells him, “Go ahead, Son, hammer those nails into the board.”

The son happily hammers away.

After he is done, the dad says, “Now go ahead and remove those nails.”

The son turns the hammer the opposite direction and removes every nail in the board.

Now this is where it gets real.  The father looks at his son and says, “Son.  In life, we are going to make mistakes or say things that we shouldn’t have.  Those mistakes and those words—those are the nails that went into the wood.  But we can work on rectifying our mistakes, asking for forgiveness, saying we’re sorry, righting our wrongs.  And that is pulling the nails back out of the wood.  But you see, Son, the wood—it still has the scars of the nails.  So be careful, Son.  Be careful of your words and your actions.  Because there will always be scars.”

Yep, parents.  We imperfectly fail.  And a lot of that failure comes in the form of how we speak or react to our child.

And although we are now the parents, we are still the students.  Students on the journey of parenting.  Part of that journey includes learning self-control.  Learning “tongue control”.

Each and every day we have an opportunity to set an example for our children.  To teach them how to speak and how to react.  And how to love.  And how to forgive.

Words are a powerful weapon.  And sometimes they do steal, kill, and destroy lives.  They have a great ability to scar.  But if we learn to grow up, practice self-control and edification, our words can build, encourage, and grow our children instead of tear them down.

Let’s not remain word failures forever, parents.  Keep going.  Watch your words.  Think before you speak.  And make sure that what you have to say is indeed for the growth, edification, and education of your child.

Helping them learn to grow and be the best that they can be.  Each and every day.  I know you can do it.

Just give it a try!

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