While sitting at the kitchen table working with my daughter, I off-handedly remarked, “If not for change, there would be no butterflies.” I continued writing my article and she continued making her collage. I thought nothing of my comment until I glanced at the screen saver on her phone. While we were working, she had downloaded a photo of a butterfly and added the words I had just spoken.
“Why did you make that?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she said glancing at the screen. “I just liked the way it sounded.”
This little incident made me realize how important my words are to my children. Even when I think they aren’t paying attention, I have to remember that their antennae are always up. One careless phrase could cause irreparable harm.
We have a plaque that sits on the mantel in our kitchen that reads:
Before you speak, think:
Is it true?
Is is helpful?
Is it necessary?
Is is kind?
My wife made this plaque to remind our children to think about what they’re saying and choose their words carefully. While the message was intended for the kids, it also serves as constant reminder to my wife and me to remove negativity from our conversations.
As a father, it is my duty to help build my children’s self-esteem and self-confidence. That’s why I must be deliberate with my words and speak truth, encouragement, and wisdom into their lives. Holding myself to this standard is not easy, and I don’t always measure up. But I have to set the bar high for my children’s sake.
I was proud that my daughter chose to use my words as her screen-saver, but I’ll consider it a greater accomplishment if she and her siblings would apply them to their lives.
Question: Do you believe that your children are encouraged by your words?