“He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles.” Proverbs 21:23 NAS
My fifth grade teacher didn’t like me, and at the ripe old age of 10, even I knew it. To this day, I remember Mrs. Chadwick talking about me and ridiculing me in front of all the other students. I would either pretend not to hear or act like it didn’t bother me. But on the inside, not only did her words hurt, they began to rip apart my self-esteem. It didn’t occur to me I should tell my parents. After all, she was an adult authority figure in my life. Who was I to question her?
Modern society has legitimized sarcasm and labeled it comedy. Many people think its okay to put someone down, call them names, or make fun of them, especially if it’s followed up with the disclaimer, “just kidding”. But it’s not okay.
The Bible teaches us words can be a blessing or a curse. Whether spoken in sarcasm or in an uncontrolled moment of anger, words like “stupid” and “clumsy” or “what’s WRONG with you?” definitely fall into the latter category. We have the responsibility as parents to protect our children. Yet without realizing it, sometimes our words are what bring our children the greatest harm.
Think about the words you use when you speak to and about your children. Do they lift, encourage and affirm them? If not, it’s time for a vocabulary change. Sit down as a family and discuss ways to de-word and re-word your home. It’s a lesson none of us are too young (or old) to learn.
PRAYER: God, forgive me for saying things to my children I didn’t mean. Please heal their wounds and help me have the self-control and wisdom I need to guard my tongue every time I speak to them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
When I went to school in the 60’s, there were no rules to protect kids against classroom bullies. We had three categories of kids: the cool ones, the uncool ones, and those who somehow flew under the radar and escaped all the drama. For most of my elementary years, I was in the uncool category…awkward and lanky, uneven bangs, a nose too big for my face…lots of things for people to laugh at and make fun of.
The cool kids maintained their status by “putting down” the uncool kids. They teased and talked about us with made-up stories and pulled mean pranks on us. I even had a 5th grade teacher in Houston who was chummy with the cool girls and said mean things about me (in front of me) to the other girls!
Did it hurt my feelings? Of course it did. Did I ever show it? Not on your life. I stuffed those feelings way down in my socks and pretended I didn’t hear or didn’t care. It never occurred to me to tell an adult or my parents because it was my “normal”. I thought I had to accept it. To this day, I’m not sure how successful adult intervention would have been. When kids want to bully another child, they will always find a way.
Despite being bullied, always being chosen last and not being invited to the popular kids’ birthday parties, I grew up secure and confident with my self-esteem intact. How? I had the best home life a child could ask for. Little did my parents know how emotionally beat up I was at school. But when I came home, they treated me exactly the opposite. They lifted me up. They made me feel special. They took time to listen to my ideas, my dreams and my stories. They nurtured and admired my talents and showed me unconditional love. I knew by the way they treated me that I was important to them…and I chose to believe their opinion of me rather than the opinion of the school bullies.
A wise man once told me it takes seven compliments to soften the sting of one negative comment. Whether your child is ever bullied or not, remember to look for the good things in their life and tell them you’ve noticed. Make it your goal to fill the positive side of their emotional bank and offset anything the world may throw at them!