Words are powerful. Words can cause hurt or bring healing. It can uplift or discourage the spirit. It can bring peace or cause strife. It can inspire or deaden a heart. Words can make a big difference in a family.
Observe your conversations at home. What is your favorite topic at mealtimes? Do you just talk about chores and school work? Or maybe movies and the latest gadgets?
As parents, we have the responsibility of guiding our children and blessing them with our words. This calls for wisdom from God. It’s not easy to come up with words that are always “gracious and seasoned with salt”. Yes, it is important to listen to our children and their interests. But we should also find ways to take the conversations deeper — to get into their heart and direct them to God’s heart.
Here are some ways to do this:
- Ask “heart” questions – Luke 6:45 says, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Find out what’s going on in their heart. What are they really thinking? What do they really want to share? Some children might be afraid or shy to talk about things that really concern them. Ask them too about God’s heart in a particular issue. For example, “What does God say about beauty or modesty?” This might even lead you to study the Bible about your child’s concern.
- Initiate “heart” conversations – Talk about your experiences without preaching to them. Times have changed. I remember how I used to feel when my mom talked about “When I was your age…” Sometimes I felt blessed that I did not go through what she experienced. Other times I felt like I’m so irresponsible and lazy compared to her. Weigh your motives too. Do you want to share because you want to be more intimate with your child? Or is it just your way of making your life an “object lesson”? Your child will know the difference.
- Time it right – In our family, mealtimes can last for more than an hour when we talk and not just eat. We talk about a lot of things — childhood memories, politics, embarrassing moments, etc. These types of conversations make hearty meals. Other sensitive topics call for a different setting – sex, bad grades, disrespectful behavior, etc. These should be done in a private place and at a set time other than dinner. There are also everyday conversations which you can turn into teachable moments for you and your child. Pick your child’s brain (and heart) by using prompt questions like “What do you think about this latest hit song?” or “How can we wash dishes to the glory of God?”
- Pray with your children – This is perhaps one of the times when we are most honest and vulnerable. When we know that God knows what’s in our heart and what we need even before ask, flowery words have no use. We bare our soul before God and our children when we pray with them. We also become more aware of what God is doing in our children’s lives through their prayers. Though be careful not to use prayer as a way to preach to them.
- Bless your children – Whether before you leave in the morning or hit the sack at night, take time to bless your children. You may compose your own blessing or use others’. It may be in a form of poem or a song. The Bible has many passages that can be used to bless your children. You can be assured that God himself will honor your words of blessing spoken in his name. Numbers 6:27 says, “Whenever Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel in my name, I myself will bless them.” Isn’t that amazing?
Can you share some other ways we can use words to nourish relationships in our family? Post your ideas in the Comment section below.