Our eldest son turns twenty four in two days and then next month, we usher him into a new season of married life. It’s been a joy to have him living at home for the last six months, but we’re excited to see him chart his new journey with his precious bride.
With a lot of parenting years under my belt, I’ve realized I will never stop being a mom. Day in and day out, it’s the job that refines me the most, makes me cling to God’s truth, as well as give up control that I never should have thought was mine in the first place. This weekend as we all gathered together, I talked about our words. Words have the power to breathe life, but they’re also a sword that yields painful blows. In the midst of frustration, we often vent the same old damaging script, only to regret it later.
No matter how old our kids get, I still find myself reminding them (and myself), “Speak Life.” I want us to be known for the way our words encourage and build up. Yes, recently in a car ride, I turned around just like when they were five and said, “Everyone stop right now. (they started in again….) NOPE. Shut it! No more talking unless it’s words that speak life.”
We have that power to reshape how we speak.
I’m thrilled to have my friend, Wendy Speake, share about her “Parenting Script.” It’s such an important reminder.
Few things delight me more than the list of funny things my children say. Just recently my two youngest boys got to have “the talk” with their dad. You know, the birds and the bees. While we call it “the talk,” our hope, of course, is that this is just the first of many conversations in the years ahead. Anyway, this isn’t a blog post about how or when or what to share, but an introduction to tell you what my middle boy said to my husband that left my husband speechless. “If I want to have a kid, do I have to do that? I mean, is it possible to get a kid without taking my clothes off? Could we just… hug?”
My husband, God love him, wasn’t prepared for this son’s question. He had started the whole conversation with a picture of the skeletal system, then discussed the muscular system, followed by the digestive system… when he got to the reproductive system he handled it with the same scientific, matter-or-fact ease as all the other systems within the body. And then the questions started.
As the story goes, my oldest had a question or two himself. He wanted to know, “Does it feel good?” My husband simply smiled, nodded, and said, “Yes.” But the boy pressed, “Well, what does it feel like, exactly?” Again, the boy’s dad wasn’t as prepared as he thought he was. He spoke the first thing that came to his mind:
“You know that feeling you get when you’re on a roller coaster and you do a great big drop, and you get a little tingle down there?”
The child’s eyes grew wide, “Yeah…”
“Something like that.”
We laugh about these first conversations, and many other talks we’ve had with the kids about various subjects through the years.
Here in this middle of the holidays you know that many parents are intentional about what to say to the kids about Christmas too. We prepare for these advent days. We prepare the stories and the crafts and the meals and the questions and the answers to those questions.
But the reality is, we don’t do much planning for our everyday conversations in our homes. How we call them to the table and deal with on-going disobedience, sibling fights, and bedtime battles… doesn’t get near as much forethought as some of these coming of age conversations. But they are coming of age, here in our homes, on a daily basis, and we want desperately to be ready to say and do the right thing in the heat of those ordinary moments as well. We want to, we just aren’t sure what that looks like or sounds like. Which is why my friend Amber Lia and I wrote a book for moms and dads who are desperate to speak life to their children instead of defaulting to the same old words and ineffective consequences. Focusing on the most ordinary and yet troublesome areas in our daily routines, Parenting Scripts helps parents to craft intentional, well thought out and prayed over words.
When parents step back to consider their children’s wrong action, there’s a chance they can plan the right reaction. In the margins of their busy days, when their children do wrong, parents learn to slow down, calm down, sit down, and write down a better response. Moms and dads are able to pinpoint their family’s bad habits and choose better ways of dealing with immature behavior —theirs and their children’s.
From toddlers at the dinner table, elementary age children melting down over homework, the tween years complete with hormones and attitudes, and the later teenage years as they journey toward independence and adulthood, Parenting Scripts is for every parent who desires to do right but often does wrong. Doing wrong is one thing; there’s grace for that. But doing the same wrong thing day-in-and-day-out is crazy!
Einstein defines insanity this way, “Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.”
Many parents feel stuck in a rut, not knowing what to do or say or try next. Of course, if we’re getting ready for something we’ve never discussed before, we make a plan. But what of the bad habits we’re currently in? Is it possible we can stop, simply stop and make a better plan for those conversations too?
If you decide in the calm moments of life how to deal with conflict, there is a chance to respond the right way, each and every time.
There is beauty in the bedlam of every hard mothering-moment, but you’ve got to prepare for it. You’ve got to prepare. With the new year just around the bend, won’t you grab a copy of Parenting Scripts and allow us to find the beauty in the bedlam of your parenting days?
Let’s make a better a plan together.
For more encouragement and ideas about parent child communication:
One Little Perspective Change Altered How I Mother