If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man,
and able also to bridle the whole body. - James 3:2
|Dallin H. Oaks|
In this world where there are so many ways to express ourselves, we must choose every day to build each other up or tear each other down. There really is no neutral ground. Our homes are ground zero for our emotions. It is hard to be nice - especially when we are frustrated, hurt, angry, bored, or feeling any other negative feeling. It takes a lot of self-control to choose love through our words. It is even more imperative to act this way toward our children.
They're Your Children!
When my husband and I first married, we were fortunate enough to go to church with a lot of families who had come to Brigham Young University from different countries in order to complete their educations. One Brazilian mother stood up on a Sunday to bear her testimony of an answer she received to a prayer. Her young children had been fighting, and she was at her wit's end. Instead of resorting to yelling herself, she went into her room and closed the door. She knelt in prayer, saying:
They're Your children! What do
You want me to do with them?
This has inspired me since I first heard it 16 years ago. She was able to calmly dispel the fight using her nice words instead of anything "corrupt" or with "bitterness." God wants us to treat each other well. We are His children. If we are to become perfect like Him, then we must use the appropriate language necessary to invite the Spirit of God into our homes.
Jeffrey R. Holland once taught:
We must be so careful in speaking to a child. What we say or don’t say, how we say it and when is so very, very important in shaping a child’s view of himself or herself. But it is even more important in shaping that child’s faith in us and their faith in God. Be constructive in your comments to a child — always. Never tell them, even in whimsy, that they are fat or dumb or lazy or homely. You would never do that maliciously, but they remember and may struggle for years trying to forget — and to forgive. And try not to compare your children, even if you think you are skillful at it. You may say most positively that “Susan is pretty and Sandra is bright,” but all Susan will remember is that she isn’t bright and Sandra that she isn’t pretty. Praise each child individually for what that child is, and help him or her escape our culture’s obsession with comparing, competing, and never feeling we are “enough.”
When we speak in loving ways to our children, we teach them by example that they can speak lovingly to us. Believe me. I know how hard this can be. Our children constantly have bad examples at school, on TV, in music, etc.
A man I knew a few years ago taught in the local middle school. When he heard his son speaking in the kind of slang, pop-off way so many kids that age do, the father told his son he wasn't allowed to bring the middle school into their home. Our homes are sacred places where we are to act in ways as close to heaven as possible - and then, hopefully, take that out into the world to make it a better place.
I love what it says in Ephesians 4: 29-32.
We can leave a lasting legacy of love for our children by how we speak to their parents - our husbands or wives. I'm saddened when I hear women belittling their husbands to other women, or worse, in front of their children. The same goes the other way when husbands are verbally abusive to their wives. What does that teach our children? Only that it's an appropriate way for them to speak to their future spouses. How terrible!
Linda K. Burton put it so nicely when she said:
With those inspired questions in mind, I'll take the Simple Ways from the original list that we can use to show love by using our nice words.
2. Sing a song. Make it a happy song!
4. Read a story. Whenever I sit down with my children to read I automatically become calmer and feel more tenderly towards them.
5. Tell a child his/her birth story. My kids love being reminded of how they came to this earth!
6. Relate a nice story from your life. I'm not good at telling stories from my own life, but I love hearing about my parents.
9. Give a random compliment. The best kind of compliment for me is one that is totally unexpected.
15. Say "I love you." It can't be said enough, in my opinion!
35. Encourage someone's attempt. It's hard for a lot of people, myself included, to sustain momentum on a project without hearing some encouragement from another.
56. Pray for someone so they can hear you. This is more powerful than words can describe. To use someone's name out loud in a petition to heaven brings a sense of peace and love that is hard to reproduce in another setting.
60. Speak with kindness.
69. Find something good about each family member each day. Even if you are angry with someone, this exercise can dissipate those feelings quickly.
74. Call someone a pet name you haven't used in years. The other day my husband used a pet name for me I hadn't heard in a while. It made me happier than I would have expected!
81. Whisper. God doesn't shout. He speaks in a "still, small voice." It makes us quiet ourselves to listen. I've used whispers to get rowdy children's attention before. It works wonders to make a room quiet!
I hope I've given you some ideas to work with and some quotes from inspired people to motivate you in your own lives to choose love. If you have anything to add, please comment! If you like what you've read, please re-share!
Want more from the Choose Love Series?
1. The goal that started it all:
2. 100 Simple Ways to Choose Love:
5. Choose Love Through Humor:
1. The goal that started it all:
3. Choose God First:
5. Choose Love Through Humor:
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