Words Do Matter

January 24, 2011


By Elizabeth Norman


Wow! I'm still stirred up about a conversation I heard last week at the hair salon. I know... I was in too close a proximity to ignore the conversation between the lady next to me talking about a situation that had developed between her and her son. All I know about him is that he is old enough to have his first job.  


The woman was relating a conversation between her and her son recently. He had apparently received his first paycheck and proudly declared that now that he had his own money, he would be able to stay out late or even for a week and there wouldn't be anything his mom could do about it. She retorted in anger and sarcasm.


A week later the son came to his mom to ask for a $20 bill.


What she said next breaks my heart. She had the opportunity to talk with him, share her heart, and hear his. She had the opportunity to seize a teaching moment; to offer the $20 in love and make a life-long point. She might have reminded her son that raising him is way more about love and support than it is about money. She might have said something to show her love and devotion. She might have elaborated on the many wonderful rewards of being a part of a family. What she said instead only reinforced what so many kids think already: "My parents are just waiting for me to mess up so they can make me feel stupid."


What she said with more sarcasm was something like this: "What happened? Just a few days ago you were independently wealthy!" And triumphantly: "No you may not have my $20!" Then she went on to brag to those of us within earshot about her own self righteousness.


I had so many emotions right then all at once: helplessness, irritation at myself for not being more courageous to say something, anything; anger at such apathy for her own child; the waste of such a potentially powerful, teachable moment! Mom and son seemingly walked away mad and hurt.


Our kids are always going to say things that are off base, or hurt our feelings. Of course the son mentioned above was immature in his thinking! But how we respond in these situations makes all the difference. The Bible teaches us exactly how to respond and gives us several options, even:

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Eph. 4:31-32, NIV)

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matt. 6:14-15, NIV)

The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (Proverbs 12:18, NIV)


Let's ask God for the help we need and determine to parent Biblically. I believe it makes all the difference in the world!


Bless you as you take the next step!