Sticks and Stones…But words?

WordsI’ve decided to do a few pieces on how we as parents can either Curse or bless our children.  The kicker is that most parents would cringe at the thought of cursing their beloved little ones, but if we actually take a step back and think about how we speak to them, even over this last week for example, I bet we would all be able to highlight a few sterling examples of where we did anything but heap praises and blessing on our kids.

Every morning as the sun dares to dip its toes in the pool of a new day, Mom and dad wake with the greatest of intentions. Today, I will succeed, today I will be victorious, I will conqour the business world, my family with ascend to greater heights, my children will yet again wonder what they did to deserve such amazing parents, I will walk through this day causing such ripples in the Devils desires for my life that he will wish for me not to get up tomorrow for fear that we will again punch gaping holes in his plans for me, my marriage and my children. Lookout, here comes Mommy and Daddy!

And so we rise, only to be greeted by burst nappies, spilled bottles, runny noses, screams of “I’m hungry”, or “I don’t want that” or “but he did it first”. The vision of perfection begins to wane in the haze of the morning schedule.

So we react, we share our feelings with ones we hold most dear. The problem is, we tend to share things with the ones we hold most dear in a way that would make the ones we hold least dear shudder. But they understand, its my home, I need to be myself somewhere. All true, however, when we start to understand the power of words, the way that they either bless or curse, we will see that regardless of what space we find ourselves in, we need to be careful with how we share our frustrations, especially to our kids, as the impact our words can transcend the issue at hand and create in them an identity which can be very different to the one God intended for them.

So what do words do? Remember Genesis 1:3? “and God said, “Let there be light”, and there was light””. This gives us an idea of the power of words. Lets paint the picture. Nothingness upon nothingness, wrapped up in a blanket of even more nothingness and coated in a good measure with a solid dollop of even more nothingness, and then God arrives on the scene. he doesn’t wield a hammer or proceed with the unravelling the great blueprint of the world, he doesn’t even proceed to get the angels into position for the great work day, no He opens his mouth and breathes out. That’s the power of words, that’s our beginning, we all started with a word.

As we grow, the question that keeps raising its little head is; do I know who I am and why I am here? What is my Identity and Purpose. Time after time I am reminded about the importance of understanding these two little words. People desperately attempt to wrap the answer to these questions up in financial success, educational achievements, acceptance, fame, popularity, materialism and other man-made achievements. In and of themselves, these are not always a bad thing, but the danger comes when we try to replace the answer to purpose and identity with a fresh coat of popularity and wealth, or something similar.

I have experienced too many young boys and men, expressing the pain brought on by the words of a father, too many times have I been at the business end of the deafening truth that men are being damaged, potentially forever, because someone decided to use their position of authority and the power of their words to break down instead of building up. “Why can’t you do better, whats wrong with you, you’re stupid, you’re worthless, I’m too busy, earn my time”. If we can see that the very foundation of our existence was built on words, it’s not too difficult to understand that the foundation of those entrusted to our care may also be deeply impacted by what we say. A boy once shared that his greatest fear was either that he ended up like his dad, or that he had a son as unhappy as him. How can this be? How did the story get from mom and dad celebrating over the birth of their first-born to this. What caused this monumental shift? Words!

Proverbs 18:21 “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Pretty simple I’d say. Every day we have a fresh opportunity to enforce the purpose and identity that God intends for our children, but we also have the opportunity to support the devil in his plans to give our children identity and purpose. When we speak life, when we encourage in love, when we speak truth on a river of grace and understand that our words have the potential to create in our children personality, character, the ability to cope with life’s challenges, the foundation on which their future will rely, when we speak these words, we bless our children. When we are overly critical, comparing them to others, when we encourage guilt, hopeless and a sense that they are not good enough, when we see our children as a project that needs to be completed to perfection rather than image bearers needing love and acceptance no matter what, when we speak these words, we curse them, we abdicate our responsibility and send the message that they are not worthy to be our sons and daughters and certainly not worthy of our love, at least until they reach our expectations.

Are we going to be perfect at this, absolutely not! But I think what is important is an understanding of the power we posses. If we start to appreciate the weight of our words in the formation of our children, if we temper our responses and filter our outbursts with an understanding that the situations that cause such frustration and annoyance, even anger, can either be turned into a life-giving opportunities, from which everyone can grow, learn and reinforce love and acceptance or these opportunities can be turned into grave yards, where we just remember how things used to be.

We all want the best for our children, but perhaps we need a new definition of what is the “best”. It may not be perfection, success, achievement, wealth, academic and social deity. It may simply be a little girl or boy, who, even though they aren’t the “best”, know who they are, whose they are, that they are loved by their daddy and will always feel safe, accepted and loved. I am confident that all the hopes and dreams I have for my children will grow far better in this soil than any other.

Deuteronomy 30:19 “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”

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