One night, my wife and I had a deep talk with our teenage child who had a hard time letting go of something that preoccupied him. If remained unchecked, he would be in the grip of an obsession he would likely be powerless to resist someday. As we talked, I could sense his ambivalence of wanting to be into it continually but not wanting to be controlled by it. I remember telling him, “Anak, remember who you are and whose you are. Jesus loves you. You belong to Him”. The only way he can overcome what preoccupies him is if he declares who his Master is: GOD, and no one else. We led him in a prayer, helping him rededicate his interests, talents, and skills back to the Lord. After the prayer, we noticed his countenance lightened up. He told his mom in the morning, “I feel free!”
Words are powerful—and much more if these words come from dear and influential people in a child’s life, like his dad. A father’s words bring so much impact that it can hurt deeply or heal holistically, help or harm. So how should we fathers approach this? Here are some tips that can help impact our children positively:
Recognize that your words have power. Your words can impact your child throughout his lifetime. They can either build or destroy. And you will be remembered for however you impact them. Zig Ziglar once quoted, “You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.”
Think before you speak. Ask, “Will this help my child become a better person if I say it?” Remember, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21). Take care of those careless words that can be spoken abruptly and hurt unnecessarily. Think ahead of the consequence and effect of the words you are to say before actually speaking it.
Train yourself to speak life-giving words to your children. “A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook” (Proverbs 18:4). Encourage more than you correct. Catch him doing the good and the right and compliment him for doing that. Tell him how you appreciate him for completing his chores, for helping his mom carry the grocery bags without being prompted, for praying for his friends, for standing by his sister, for consistently taking out the garbage every day, for willingly sharing his toys and playing with his visiting cousin, and for being first to greet an elderly neighbor, “Good morning.”
“Kaya mo yan, anak. I believe in you!”
“I love you, million times!”
“I appreciate you.”
“I trust you.”
“You made me more proud.”
“You made it extra special.”
Speak in a gentle, affirming tone. Do you know that 10% of conflict is due to a difference in opinion and 90% is due to the wrong tone of voice? So speak those words with extra gentleness! “Gentle words bring life and health” (Proverbs 15:4a). Make no room for thoughtless and careless words, but be wise enough to bring healing as you speak. Proverbs 12:18 reminds us that, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” And remember, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but hard words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). Speak gently!
Speak with kindness. Blaise Pascal once said, “Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much”. So true! Proverbs even tells us, “Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body” (Proverbs 16:24). Provoking your children to anger is never wise. So season your speech more with kindness when you speak to them.
Bless your child with a vision. What is your vision for your child? How do you see him in the future? Your words will help shape his future. He better hears it now. One Sunday morning, I found myself telling both my children, “I see you growing in wisdom and strength of character. I want you to be a man and a woman of conviction who will do the right thing and stand up for what is right even if it is unpopular and inconvenient; loving God and obeying Him.”
Bless your children with what God charged Moses to speak to Aaron and his sons in Numbers 6:24-26 –
24 “The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”
Children are a blessing. They will carry on our name, our legacy, and our example therefore they are worthy of our time, effort, love, and respect. May our daily conversations with them reflect our genuine affection and sincere appreciation. May our powerful words bring more life and blessing!
Great Bayani Mabuti is a homeschooling dad,educator, and trainer. He lives in Taguig with his wife,Tet, and two children, Honor and Integrity. The Christmas Advent was introduced to them when they visited Germany.