The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.
The idea that the things we say to our kids each day are forming the core of who they will be as adults is a bit scary. Have any of the things your parents said stuck with you as an adult? I ran across this quote today by Peggy O’Mara, and it makes me want to be even more careful in how I communicate.
Like most parents, I’d never be mean or hurtful in the things I say, careful to never use “labeling”, e.g. a behavior may be called out as “bad”, but our child is never a “bad” child. Too often, though, I hear myself say, “Not now, Daddy is working.” Over time what do they hear, “I’m not as important as Daddy’s work?”
Do you ever catch yourself saying something unnecessarily impatient or critical to your children? I like to believe I’m a pretty good dad, giving our daughter lots of love and support. Every so often, though… usually on days where I’m particularly tired or stressed… I catch myself being irritable or impatient.
Often it’s not even the words I say, but more the tone with which I say them. Clearly we need to communicate our disapproval when a child breaks rules or misbehaves, but I feel our words when correcting misbehavior should be measured in message and tone… and never said in anger?
And while were on the subject of how the things we say affect our kids… do you ever catch yourself being less than patient and loving with your spouse? We can talk about how that makes your spouse feel in another post, but when you do that in front of your kids, what message is it sending?
I just made this graphic, which I’m going to print and tape it to my bathroom mirror. Thinking back to my childhood, I want to remember how my parents words (good and bad) affected who I am today… and I want to be sure the inner voice I plant daily in our child’s mind is a healthy, happy one.
Kudos Michael ~
This topic is a constant battle for us all, I’m afraid.
We are all human, after all, and our growth and maturity is paramount when we have children we now influence.
Luckily, I waited to have my kids until I was in my 30’s for this very reason – to grow and mature as much as possible so as to not repeat my own upbringing.
Their future therapy sessions will prove or disprove my success….
Thanks, Mary. I waited until I was older to have children, as well. I know for certain that I am much better suited in both priorities and temperament than I would have been younger. I know lots of really great parents in their 20s, but I’d not have been one of them, I fear. Our daughter get’s tons of love, patience and support from us, but that doesn’t mean I don’t loose focus briefly, and can’t do better. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment!
A very thought provoking article! I must also admit that far more times than I’d like to I catch myself being impatient with my daughters (and my wife).
I don’t remember my parents ever being like this to me, so I guess I am very lucky in that way, and yet another way in which I need to try to emulate them.
I guess for the many times I do fail I need to make sure that I say sorry to my girls (including my wife here!) and let them know that I will always love them.
You can’t say and more importantly show them enough. You’re right, Paul. That said we all are imperfect and can only strive to do better in the future if we slip up.
So true I’ve been affect as well with word how sad when u already have 3 children you’re gaining knowledge of the truth.thank u