Tips on How to Speak Lovingly to Your Family
Could I do it? A day shy of 37 weeks, I was in the hospital contracting every 2 to 3 minutes. Finally, I would hold my TWO babies in my arms instead of my gigantic belly! But, I was exhausted.
Carrying two babies while mothering a 7-year-old, a soon-to-be 5-year-old, and an almost-two-year-old had pushed me to my very limits. Where I normally would have been ecstatic, I was scared. Would I have the strength to birth these two precious boys? It was a heavy time, literally and figuratively, as I lay there, hooked up to monitors, completely spent, and wondering if I was up to the challenge.
My Dad came to visit. I told him, “I don’t know if I have the strength to birth these babies.” He told me, “Sarah, you are one of the most courageous people I know.”
Eleven words and yet, they held such power. Me? One of the most courageous people he knew, how could that be? My Dad is an encourager. He hopes for the best and trusts God for the good in every person and situation, but he doesn’t idly throw around compliments. He means what he says. Those eleven words gave me more strength than twenty energy drinks or fifteen Grande espressos. He believed in me.
The power of your words
Let’s talk about the power of our words. Proverbs 18:21(ERV) tells us, “The tongue can speak words that bring life or death.” What a powerful responsibility!
We can speak life over and into others, or we can speak death.
Death to a relationship, death to their spirit and heart, and death to their dreams. As women, we have enormous power over those God has given us to care for.
Think for a moment about something someone told you that encouraged you to keep going, to not give up, and that let you know you were loved and not alone. Now, think of the opposite. A time someone spoke mean and cutting or thoughtless words. I can think of something from decades ago! There is so much power in our words. Proverbs 15:1(CEV) tells us,
A kind answer soothes angry feelings, but harsh words stir them up.
Our husbands look to us for praise and encouragement. We are often exhausted, but then so are they. I have heard more than one man say that while the praise of others is meaningful, the praise of his own wife is what he really longs for.
Do you thank and express verbal appreciation to your husband, as you do for others? I don’t always, but it is something I am trying to do more. If I can thank the cashier at the grocery store, I can thank my husband for the good he does.
Hearts in hand
Our children’s hearts are in our hands. Dr. James Dobson, a famous psychologist, posted this past Mother’s Day, “From the beginning of life, children need their mothers like they need no one else.” I’m sure you’ve seen the quote on social media, “If speaking kindly to plants helps them grow, imagine what speaking kindly to humans can do.”
Here are three things, I have learned from others, that have enabled me to speak more lovingly, not perfectly, to my family.
1. Take a deep breath
First, when I am angry or stressed, I do sometimes clap to get my loud children’s attention, and then I try to intentionally lower my tone of voice and speak in a slow, measured voice. I pray, sometimes out loud, “Jesus, please help me!” I take a deep breath. Remembering and being reminded of the precious value of these children God has given me, gives me the strength to keep trying to love them well. What I am doing matters!
James 1:19(CEV) says, “My dear friends, you should be quick to listen and slow to speak or to get angry.” My own dear mother modeled this so well to me. Because of this, I firmly believe this area is not as hard for me, although I STRUGGLE in others. If your mother gave you a great example, thank her. If not, know that the work you are doing to control your tongue, to not give up and keep working (It is work!), to change the way you speak to your husband and your children is so worth it. It is not just worth it for yourself and your children but for the future generations that are being shaped, as you mother your children.
2. Invest in your mental health
Secondly, I invest in my mental health. I have gone to Christian counseling, a lot of counseling! I take medication. I go outside and exercise, and I take little bits of time for quiet and to tend to my soul. If you are constantly on edge and on empty, your tongue will betray you, even with the best of intents. If you are constantly hurried and stressed, tempering your words will be nearly impossible. Evaluate where you can simplify and cut back, so you can love your family with your words well. Luke 6:45(CEV) says, “Your words show what is in your heart.” And I think sometimes what is in our hearts is exhaustion and distraction, stress and worry. It’s not that we don’t love our children; oh, we do! But we are worn down.
3. Ask for help.
Third, one thing I am learning is to ask for help. Sometimes people can’t or say no, and that’s okay. Ask someone else. I was looking for a weekly tutor to help me with my children’s education. It was the third person that said yes. Keep asking!
I have been a mother for twenty years and am closer to fifty than forty. Can I tell you young mothers something? I wish I had asked for, paid for, received more help, and taken a little time away when my oldest kids were younger. I would have been more refreshed as a person, and therefore a better mother. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You don’t have to do it all or do it alone. XOXOXO