Words are powerful. They tear down and they build up. You can probably think of days that were made much better by kind words from a friend. You can probably also think of days where just the opposite occurred. I’ve found that words from a parent affect kids in a couple ways.
Snapshots and Marinades
For one thing, kids can file away memories for life that may include words that were spoken. The human brain is amazing, and I know people who have lived their whole lives with parental words echoing in their heads. Some of these snapshots are good, and some of them are bad.
Different from a snapshot, I think words can also be compared to a marinade. (I do live in KC after all.) I make it my goal to surround and cover my kids with positive words that over time will have the same effect as the best sauce that Kansas City barbecue has to offer. These words will create an environment of love, safety, and nurturing. Of acceptance. The kids may not be able to think back to one conversation or one interaction, but they will no doubt feel the effect of the constant, consistent bath.
For some specifics, I go to the example of Jesus and His Father. They were in unceasing communion, so it would be impossible to even begin to write about all that They said to each other. But I love the scene that is recorded in Mark 1:11. John has just baptized Jesus, and as Jesus comes up out of the water His Father says: “You are my Son, whom I love; with You I am well-pleased.”
So simple, but so perfect. In just a few words, our Perfect Father expressed everything that a son needs to know:
- You are mine
- I love you
- I am pleased with you
This is something that I try to tell my boys every night as I put them to bed. “Good night, Luke. You’re MY boy. I love you. I’m proud of you. I’m glad that you’re my boy.”
Boys need to know that they are accepted by their father. That they matter. That they are powerful. I believe that these vital words, repeated over and over, will give my boys the confidence that they need. I know that the affirmation I received from my dad encouraged me, and I believed “I have what it takes.” In the same way, it is my prayer that the bonds that I build with my sons today will sustain us as we face a variety of challenges.
You Can Do It
Dads: I encourage you to take time to be with your sons, and to use that time purposefully to build a strong and open relationship with them. Give your sons the gift of a great relationship with their father. That is an amazing gift indeed!
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Wishful Thinking: This post has the other words that we speak over our kids at night.