“All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:7
If you are like every other parent on the planet you have upon occasion said something to your child out of frustration, anger, fear, knee-jerk reaction or habit that you instantly regret. And, if you are like about 98.7% of parents on the planet this happens more frequently than you’d like to admit.
When you read the passage above, it’s no wonder! Scripture reminds us that the tongue…specifically the words it helps us form…are powerful, restless and even poisonous. And worse of all, we haven’t been able to figure out how to keep it under control. And if you are like 63% of all parents on the planet your children are often the people who feel the consequences of our out-of-control tongues more than anybody else.
While it is impossible to fully tame our tongues we can learn to slow it down a little bit, to use it for good more often than for evil, to allow it to build our children up more often than allowing it to tear them down. But how? How can we avoid saying something we will soon regret? Okay…we can’t avoid it altogether, but how can we do it less frequently?
Here is one practice that may help when you are tempted to say something to your child you know you will later regret:
PAUSE: Hit the pause button. Take a beat. Take a breath. Slow down. Walk away for a minute if you need to.
PRAY: Quickly ask God to help you keep your mouth shut or to help the right words come out when you open it.
PROCEED: Say what needs to be said, and address the situation at hand, but do it in a manner that you know is positive, uplifting and beneficial for your child.
And here’s a fourth step….one that you’ll want to add whenever you forget about steps 1-3 and say something you regret:
PRACTICE THE ART OF THE CIRCLE BACK: The moment you realize what you said was something you regret, whether it’s a second later or sometime the next day….circle back around with your child and apologize. A parent’s willingness to admit when they’ve messed up and ask for their child’s forgiveness builds an enormous amount of trust and helps the child learn to do the same.
Our tongues…we’ll never get it right all the time, but we don’t have to always get it wrong.
Note: The percentage in the first two paragraphs are made up and not based in any sort of scientific research. But I’ll bet they’re pretty accurate!