“A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
Mommas, your words carry weight. Daddies, how you answer your children will impact how they see themselves. For parents, these admonishments are familiar. And while hearing things often can cause us to dismiss them, there is truth to be found in these words of advice. How we communicate has consequences. The Bible tells us that speaking gently can diffuse anger while harsh words may stir up these emotions. But, is this lesson from Proverbs for parents alone? Or might there be more to see?
The way we speak to one another can create a peaceful home or find us living in turmoil. The tone we use, the words we choose and the way we hold ourselves or our expressions all work together to communicate to our families not only what we want to say or teach, but also how we feel about the situation at hand. All of this is true for parents. But it is true for children, as well.
The truth is that there are consequences for how we communicate with others. Regardless of how old we are, regardless of who we are speaking to, how we talk to one another can offer grace or bring grief. But what can we do with this knowledge? Can we use this to create a more peaceful home environment?
Here are some guidelines for parents and children alike:
~When we speak to one another, we will do so calmly and respectfully.
~How we look when we are talking or listening, communicates feelings. We will use good eye contact and refrain from eye-rolling and other signs of exasperation.
~We will respect one another as image-bearers of Christ and affirm one another in tone and text.
~We will honor our family connection by offering love, acceptance, and affirmation when we see good gifts in use.
~We will understand that all of us, parents and children alike, are learning and growing each day. We will admonish gently and forgive freely.
Families that share these goals in communication are living out the truth of that Proverbs verse in word and in action. Families that seek to lean into the truth of these words are creating a home environment where all members, regardless of age, are purposefully “turning away wrath” and refusing to “stir up anger”. A shared life based on verbal connection that follows the wisdom found in Scripture holds all to a higher standard while fully understanding that the teaching in Proverbs calls us to see that there are consequences for our communication.
Our words matter, choose them with care.
Rev. Joel Vande Werken
Rev. Joel Vande Werken