Speak the Truth in Love to Our Children

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Our kids don’t have a context for our correction. They don’t know how fiercely we love them. We need to speak the truth in love.

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When I had my first child, my mother and my mother-in-law both kind of went ga-ga. They were enraptured with this little boy that God had given us.

It was a challenging time for us all as we learned new roles and responsibilities. Mothers know best, right? But which mother: me, her, or her? There were a few hurt feelings, a few misunderstandings, a lot of hugs, and I’m sorry’s. We came through it mostly unscathed.

I didn’t understand the grandmothers’ enthusiasm until my mom made some kind of comment years later like, “Becoming a grandmother is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me.”

Me: More than becoming a mother?

Nanna: Oh yes, much greater than that.

That was the context for my mom and mother-in-law’s enthusiasm over the new baby. But I didn’t get that at the time.

And between you and me, I don’t totally “get” that today. I think being a mom to my kids is pretty remarkable. I can’t imagine anything beating that experience.

I mean, I love my kids more than life itself.

When each was still in my womb, I prayed and pleaded with God to spare the life growing inside me, to bring him to term, to give him a strong body, a strong heart, a strong mind. I’d like to think that, if pressed, I would trade my life for my child’s.

What could be deeper or more amazing than that?!

Speak the Truth in Love

The love and the correction that I give to my kids is, of course, then bathed in that deep mother love. When I’m disciplining one of my children, showing him or her the right path to take, instead of the one he or she is on, it’s because of that love.

Because I love their lives more than my own, I want things to go well for them. I want them to make wise choices and do great things, because, well, they’re pretty awesome people.

A month or so ago, I realized, after having corrected one or more of my children, that they have no context for this. Just as I have no context for understanding grandmother love, they have no frame of reference for the love of a mother.

They don’t speak mother love. They simply cannot see their lives from my perspective. It’s inconceivable. They are children, not parents. (I’m not even sure other adults would get it unless they are parents.)

They can’t know the depths of our love.

Likewise, they don’t receive our criticisms in the context that we’re sending them. When I say, “Don’t do that,” they don’t know the message is sent enveloped in:

“I love you more than life itself, why are you being foolish? Choose this better way so that it will may go well for you. I see your potential. I know what a magnificent person you are. Live to your potential.”

Instead they see and hear criticism. Along with that comes self-doubt and a world of negative self-speech. You know the drill:

I really blew it.

I’m no good.

I’ll never succeed.

I’ll never be good at anything.

Our kids struggle with feelings of failure just like we do.

Speak the Truth in Love

Since they can’t fully comprehend our motivations or know that our hearts are just bursting with love for them, we have to wrap our words in kindness, in gentleness, in encouraging words, and positive affirmations.

I’m not talking about false praise. I’m not talking about the modern buzz word of self-esteem. I’m talking about making sure our kids know who they are:

Children need to be corrected. They need to know when they err and how to change that action in the future.

But, they need to know the truth in love. This is how they truly grow. This is how they listen to our instruction. This is how they choose the right path.

Make sure they know your love for them, then nudge them in the right way to go.

Speak the truth in love today, Mama.

Speaking the Truth in Love to Our Children

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  1. Thank you so much. I needed this. I feel like everything I say to my 8 year old is negative lately. I’ve been praying that God will open my eyes to the positives and help me to build him up. Maybe I need my eyes opened to his perspective as well.

  2. When my oldest was about 14 months old my mother and my husband’s father were visiting at the same time. My daughter was not behaving. While I was correcting her they both started to scold me for being too harsh. I turned around and said, I don’t remember all this tender regard for my feelings when I was a kid. My husband quickly piped in, me neither! Our parents looked at each other, started to laugh and blushed just a bit. Different perspectives. All four of the adults were probably right. I was being too harsh, but the grandparents would have let her run wild before saying anything and my husband backed me up. Parenting requires balance (oh if only it were easy to achieve that every day).

  3. Well put. As a mom with several teens who are deeply struggling I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the words and actions that they need from me. The idea that they don’t have the context to understand the heart behind the words, spot on. I have seen that reflected in their eyes.

    This video series came at such a good time. Kids struggle, and while we moms do play a part in who they are and are becoming, there is an element of “life” that is beyond our control. It might be #momfail and it might mostly be #life Today we get to choose to speak love, mother and pray.

  4. Just what I needed to hear today after a morning with my 10 year old daughter. I would LOVE more articles on this topic.
    I try to speak kindly and gently – but my daughter is wise enough to see realize it is correction no matter how it is presented. And she has perfectionist tendencies that result in ANY correction feeling really negative to her. (And, of course, my own perfectionism means I see issues more easily than I see the good things). I’ve seen suggestions to make a list of all the good things about a child – and that is probably something I need to do today.

    Maybe for future topics, articles on “How to talk to your child about…” topics such as:
    – Positive attitude
    – Being kind to siblings (and others)
    – Doing your best (vs just going through the motions) – in homework, chores, etc.
    – Learning from mistakes (vs. feeling like a failure)
    – Importance of taking care of healthy bodies (food, exercise)
    – etc.

    Thanks for all you do!

  5. Nicely said! I find myself being too hard on my kids and forgetting that they don’t know I am doing it out of love all the time. We make a point that multiple times of the day to randomly say we love our kids.

  6. When I became a mom, I felt such powerful love. It gave me a super-powered strength I never felt before. It was overwhelming, miraculous, a gift from God, the most amazing thing ever!! And when I became a grandma – Wow – it is so super awesome to have such tiny, perfect little angels in my life! Mom and Grandma are very similar but slightly different roles. The love is so very deep in both situations. But the perspective has changed. As a mom, you have so, so much work to do because God has given you the task of helping one of His babies grow up. As a mom you are focused on learning your new job and doing it the best you can to be a ‘good and faithful servant’. As a grandma, your role shifts. You are not as consumed by doing the work, you are more able to enjoy the perfection God already supplied. There’s a little bit more freedom, joy, and ‘knowing’.

  7. They may not feel it or know what we feel like but they have an understanding. I have a very feisty (that’s the nice word I can use) girl that is almost six. When we discipline her we make sure to explain what she did wrong but also it’s the behavior we are unhappy about not her as a person.

    Her younger sister is not feisty but when I say “you can have the cookie AFTER you eat dinner” she immediately gets emotional and tells me I’m a mean mom! She’s only four…oy!

    When this happened one day in the car the olders sister turned to her little sister and said “That’s her job. She’s the mom and she loves us but sometimes she has to be mean. She just trying to potect us.” And yesterday same sister said “LISTEN to YOUR MOTHER” when I was trying to get them to pick up! She gets me and I’m so glad she does!