Parenting is a high calling. You don’t have to be a Christian to understand this concept. A parent is literally responsible for the emotional, social, relational, and developmental well-being of another human being. That little human will not only look to you for nurturing care for eighteen years but for their lifetime. There is no point in parenting where you will find yourself “done parenting.” You will always be “home” for your children’s thoughts, struggles, questions and unconditional support.

Psalm 127:3-5 Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.

The words you use now to talk to your children are the words they will hear in their inner selves for the rest of their lives. Let me repeat that: the rest of their lives. Do you call them names? Do you tease them? Do you look at them with disgust when they make mistakes? Do they approach you with confidence and trust knowing that you will never leave them or forsake them? That sounds familiar…. because that is how we are to approach our Father in Heaven. Perhaps you find that a challenge to approach God that way. Perhaps it is because you hear things echoing in your soul like, “What do you think you’re doing?” or “How many times do I have to tell you? What are you? Slow? Stupid? A moron?” or “Stop. Just let me do it. You obviously can’t.”

Lamentations 3:22-23 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

It’s not too late if you’ve heard those words spoken over you as a child or if you’ve spoken them over your own children. Please stop listening to that voice and fill your spirit with the voice of God by reading his word (preferably aloud) or listening to an app that will read it to you. If you’ve spoken these things over your child, stop now. Apologize. Don’t make excuses but admit your fault, make amends, and begin the process of repairing that behavior. Speak life to your children as you shepherd them toward a full life in Christ.

1 Peter 5:2-3 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.

I’ve seen the defeat on a child’s face when her daddy looks at her and tells her she’s ugly or teases her. “You want to move out and live with your boyfriend? Go for it! Be my guest!” is the response she gets from her frustrated cry for acceptance, love, and attachment. “Just get away from me!” is what she internalizes as her punishment is (once again) isolation for a bad decision she made when all she wanted was attention.

Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them.  Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

Conversely, I have seen the tremendous sense of accomplishment felt by a child who is empowered by positive speech. “You can do it! Try again. Let’s do this together. I’ll show you,” is all she hears behind her as she muscles her way through the monkey bars on the playground. “What a good choice you just made!” is spoken over her as she shares a toy unprompted with her baby sister. “You’re strong! You’re brave! You’re cute!” is what mommy always tells her.

Proverbs 15:1-2 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.

Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person

It’s no small calling to be a mom or a dad. God loves you no matter what and so do your children. You don’t have to be the best parent in the world. You don’t have to parent perfectly. You will make mistakes and you’ll say things you wish you didn’t. The trick is to make amends quickly. Love unconditionally. Always point your babies to Jesus.

Matthew 18:4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

Pray. Ask God what He would have you say to each of your unique little ones. What is the calling on their little lives? Throughout my parenting journey thus far, I have learned more about myself than I ever expected. I have healed in so many ways from my own childhood. I have made mistakes (big ones at times) and I have stumbled but through it all, my eyes have been on Jesus- the author and finisher of my faith who endured (Hebrews 12:2) and set the example for us. He teaches us how to do hard things. He teaches us how to love with crazy unconditional love. He teaches us how to heal.

Moving forward from today, remember who you are in Christ. Center yourself in God’s word and open your heart to the Holy Spirit. Google a list of verses about who God says you are. Read them aloud daily (or twice daily, if needed). From that abundance of daily bread satisfying your spirit you will minister greatly to yourself and those around you. Put God first. Decide to be purposeful in your speech and your approach to parenting your kids (regardless of how old they are). Fill them with words of encouragement and purpose.

“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”  ~Joshua 24:15

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