the power of our words...

I just found this picture on my computer and I can't believe I never noticed it before! Apparently it was taken in the fall. The jacket Parker was wearing is now too small...how sad!

Yes, I have some thoughts about words today, but I must say two things right this minute because I feel so happy: My great husband just came home from grocery shopping for the week AND he brought me my favorite Jamba Juice...how amazing is that? What a blessing! And here is the next one...I am sitting here in my brand new down vest that I bought yesterday for $9.97 at The Gap. Never mind that I bought it for post-pregnancy in my normal size, or that I'm busting the seems and can barely breathe, OR that it is near 70 degrees in here.....I love it and I'm going to wear it even if I look a little roley poley:) Back to the real topic of my post...

I've been having some thoughts about how powerful words are and how they can touch the children in our lives. Around this time last year, I read a book called Children Are Wet Cement by Anne Ortlund. It is a book that was written the year I was born about how verbal affirmation can be a pivital force in raising children to be secure and loving adults. It is a quick read and, at times, quite old school, but it really encouraged me to be more intentional about affirmation and more aware of how I speak about and to my child in general. While reading, I noticed that a lot of the tactics that Ortlund wrote about were used by my parents while we were growing up. It was interesting to recognize how intentional they were with us.

I recently have picked up this book again because Parker now understands much of what we say and I really want to be very careful about the words I use. For the most part, I think Joel and I have done well in affirming Parker, but recently I think that I've failed him a little bit by the words I choose when I talk about him. I've caught myself making comments to other adults about how he is a picky eater or how he tires me out, hates shopping, is disobedient...you know, normal toddler stuff.

An excerpt from the book:

"When your Freddie or Charlie or Sue came into the world, he or she was pure potential. He had few limits. But after a brief period of admiring and cuddling, all too soon life settled down.
He bugged you by crying too much. He spit up, and he dirtied his pants, and he pulled things out of drawers; and before long it was easy to convey to him that he's an irritation, an inconvenience--a drag.Then think about the things that begin coming out of your mouth.
By the tone of your voice, then by the words, he catches the implications sooner than you expect. And earlier than you dream, he begins to get degrading impressions of himself."

I think this makes a lot of sense. If I say something about Parker enough, he might just start believing it. How sad! However, I also know that just as my words can be damaging, they can also be life-changing in a positive way.. I can tell people what a good boy he is (in front of him), or how affectionate, or athletic, or how he loves other people so well and he will remember these things and identify with these attributes. I remember that my parents always used to tell me from early on, how well I listened to other people and showed great empathy. I think this was intentional because as I grew up, I always worked hard at listening and empathizing because I knew that this was something my parents noted in me and thought was special. How powerful!

What do you guys think? What are your experiences in this area?

I also have some personal experience I want to share about how adults can unknowingly hurt a child's self-image by making comparisons or by focusing on physical attributes.....but this is getting way too wordy and lengthy, so I'll wait for another day. I'm going to just go now and enjoy my beverage, my well-stocked kitchen, and my lovely vest!


Vicky said...

Love that picture of Parker!!!I Don;t you just love good deals.I love finding treasures at the GAP
Take care & stay warm


Tammy said...

That's all so true how the power of words can effect us. Even with adults! Sometimes I find myself complaining about little things David does that bug me when he's standing right there. I never thought it was a very big deal before, but now I realize it might affect him more than I thought. I'll have to work on that! I'm interested to hear what you have to say about the topic in your last paragraph, so please do share sometime!

Jenni said...

Just wanted to let you know that your blog is many times the highlight of my work day! Especially this time of year as life as an accountant starts to get busy... All your posts about living a simple life inspire me to do the same!! And your many posts about Parker and raising children make me so excited to have babies! I miss you a lot waaay over here in Portland! Take care and tell Joel hi for me.

Aleah said...

Sooo true Amy.
I'm very sensitive on this topic too.
Outspoken people (that don't know me) often tell me that I'm quiet or shy. It doesn't effect me much anymore just annoys me but as a kid it did effect me.
Know I see and hear people doing the same to Ethan. Also making comments that he's sooo serious. They just don't know him and I don't want him to be effected by those comments!

Thanks for posting about this! That book sounds like a great one. I'll have to read it because I also need to become more aware of what exactly I say within ear shot!

From the Woodlands said...

What a great post! Ohhhh how I wish I had heard of this book back when I was a young Mom...
It is so true about the things our children will remember. --The rest of their lives and how it will effect them as children, teens and adults.
What's that old saying... you have to say 3,5,10 positive to "erase" ONE negitive comment, man, how true is that!
Thanks for the post,
Laurie : )

Munchkin Land said...

This is a wonderful post and a great reminder for us mothers. I cringed a little as I thought of the things that I say to other mothers about Devyn. This is a great affirmation of our what our roles are supposed to look like and what we can do to raise our babies in a postive, affirming way.

Thank you, dear friend!

andimae said...

Such a great post, Amy. I love that book too! Didn't we get them in our stockings last year? I'll have to pull my out again because like you said, a lot of it hits closer to home now that Audrey is older!

Cindee said...

Ouch! And thank-you! I need that kind of reminder, often.

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