I have been thinking a lot lately about the impact of what parents say to their kids. It was my father's 82nd birthday recently and I was having a conversation with he and my uncle who had come in for a surprise visit. My uncle is really my step uncle, he's 12 years younger than my father but I love him dearly and while my father didn't grow up with him - they are very close.
Anyway, I said something about becoming more "assertive" in my old age (or mouthy depending on how you want to phrase it) and they both agreed that was a good thing. Then my father said it was good because I had always let people run over me. This was a surprise to me (not that I have struggled with that - I know that because I was easily motivated by guilt and generally a people pleaser in my youth) that he would say this, largely because my temperament is very much like his. However, when I started thinking about it, what I remember is sometime in my teen years my mother said something to the effect that I would need a strong personality husband to deal with me because I was bossy. I made "not being bossy" a goal.
I told my very strong personality husband this and he was almost speechless. Bossy is not how he would describe me. Apparently I reached my goal.
Last night we watched the second episode of Season two of "Longmire" on Hulu. In it there is a character who was very much impacted by the words of his grandparents. Devastatingly so.
The statement my mother made was probably a onetime offhand comment. She was always very positive about what I could do with my life, loved me, and believed in me. But somewhere in my brain I held on to that one comment.
I see in my kids every day the results of the words we spoke/speak to them. Their doubts, their strengths, insecurities, and confidence. All have been impacted and shaped by the words their father and I (grandparents and other significant people in their life included) have spoken. Some has been/is/will be good and some has been/is/will be bad. The tough part is that as a parent you don't always know which words will have that lasting impact.
That's where prayer comes in. Prayers that they will hear your heart and not always your words. Prayers that they will remember the good and not the bad. Prayers that God will heal them of the hurts from our words. Prayers that God will reveal what you need to apologize to your kids for.
Words should be carefully considered before they are spoken - to anyone. They have a lasting impact.
Labels: confidence, doubts, insecurities, Longmire, prayer, strengths, words