Yesterday I was at a friend’s house chatting while our kids played upstairs. As usual, after only a few minutes, rumblings of discontent reverberated down the stairs. I was tired, so I let my frustration with my daughter’s attitude show. Our children were far out of earshot when I voiced my irritation to my friend, but as soon as the words were out, I wished I could stuff them back in.

My friend gave me a sad look and jogged up the stairs to talk to our youngsters. She was very positive and told all the girls to play together and to find a way to work things out. Her positive words had a wonderful effect on them. They wanted to live up to her expectations.

I admire my friend. This is not the first time I’ve witnessed her positive parenting. She tells her kids how great they are, and they want to live up to that. I do use this same approach sometimes, but I seem to have a harder time at it.

As I pondered this later, I thought back to when I learned to mountain bike. The desert trail was rough. Huge boulders jutted out of the ground and bits of cactus or coarse desert shrubs littered the way. About the tenth time I crashed, my friend looked back.

“You’re focusing on the rocks. You have to look at where you want to go, not the obstacles. Your focus chooses your path.”

I believe I can use this same philosophy more often with my parenting. I can choose to focus on my children’s shortcomings or on positives that guide them in a better direction. In fact, I saw it in action while at my daughter’s school. I was doing a puzzle with some girls, and one of them used a “potty-type” word. I gave the group my best wide-eyed stare. “Oh, you girls are much too ladylike to use words like that, aren’t you?”

They giggled but didn’t use any more off-color words. Later that night, my daughter told me about something another child had said. She grinned and told me, “But I wouldn’t say that because I’m too ladylike.” Even though she technically did say the word when she recounted the story, I still think she got the point. I gave her something positive to live up to.

Originally Published August 2008

The Power of Words
Have you considered the strength of your words? Dennis Rainey talks with author Christin Ditchfield about the power of the tongue. Words, either good or bad, can have a lasting impact. Christen Ditchfield fondly remembers the words of her grandmother and tells how they’ve affected her to this day. Christen reminds listeners to use their words wisely, especially as we invest in the next generation.
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Way with Words: What Women Should Know about the Power They Possess (Paperback)

Women have a way with words. A woman’s strength, influence, and ability to change the world for better—in every season and in every relationship—lies in the words she speaks each day. But with that God-given power comes the need to use it wisely, and this book provides both biblical and practical guidance to that end.

In A Way with Words, author and veteran speaker Christin Ditchfield challenges women to embrace God’s gift of words and to think carefully about how they use it. She looks at twelve timeless principles as she calls all women to examine their hearts, recognize when words are their “weapon of choice,” and learn how to steward this blessing to bring life, healing, and encouragement. Each chapter includes wisdom from influential women throughout history and a Bible study for individuals and small groups.