4 Reckless Words I Don’t Want My Kids to Use

Dear Children of Mine,

I love memorizing scripture with you. “Go, but only do what I tell you”. “Do not be anxious about anything”. “Be beautiful inside, in your hearts”. “Call to me and I will answer you”. “I can do all things through Christ”.

We have memorized many Bible verses through the years (although we are not so great with the references!), but my favorite part of memorizing scripture is seeing how God teaches you and changes your hearts as a result. Our most recent verse has accomplished this very thing.

Reckless words pierce like a sword,

but the tongue of the wise brings healing. ~Proverbs 12:18

It has been interesting for me to see how I don’t need to convince you about the truth of this proverb. You have experienced reckless words and you have been pierced by them. You have also  experienced words that bring life and healing. You know that when you aren’t thinking about what you are saying, you can hurt others, but when you take time to really think about the person to whom you are speaking, you can choose to use your words wisely.

Our words are powerful. We can use them to build others up or to tear them down. As I have been contemplating the words that we use, four words have jumped out at me, words that I do not want you to use. They are reckless words and when used thoughtlessly, they have potential to hurt and to damage others, to pierce like a sword.

Can we agree to work them out of our vocabulary? Maybe I should tell you what they are first? Okay. Here we go!

1. Stupid

You use it when you are joking around and I hear you using it for dramatic effect. But we need to ask ourselves, does this word build others up or tear them down? “Stupid” is a hurtful word whether we use it to describe a person, an inanimate object or even ourselves. It is a critical word, putting ourselves in the position of judge. It makes others feel like they are “less than”. Maybe we use it because we are trying to make ourselves feel better, but if that is the case, we will find that the piercing sword is also ripping us apart. Any time you try to find satisfaction or validation in anything other than God, you will be left with gaping wounds.

Stupid is an ugly word. It is derogatory. It is reckless and it tears down, rather than building up. So, can we agree? No more “stupid” in our house? Good.

2. Lame

Unless you are describing a valid physical condition, this word is hurtful. Once again, it puts us in the position of judge and jury. It doesn’t live up to my expectations? Lame!  You don’t have the same preferences as me? Lame!

There will be times when you experience something truly remarkable and then you will look back on something that you thought was amazing, but now it appears, well, not so amazing. And you will be tempted to think, oh, that is so lame! But here’s the thing. Your friends might not have experienced that remarkable thing and so they still love the thing that you now consider to be lame. All of a sudden, you have alienated a friend through your reckless words. For what? To express that you have better taste? “Lame” pierces like a sword. It does not bring healing. Don’t use it!

3. Sissy

Unless you are referring to one of your beautiful sisters, please don’t use the word “sissy”. It is meant to be derogatory. In this culture where we value strength and courage, there is a tendency to see anything that falls short of our standard as being weak. And sometimes when boys are trying to be strong, they are tempted to make fun of others who might not be as strong physically.

But using words like “sissy” will only make you a bully. We should never, ever put others down to make ourselves somehow feel better. I want you to be the type of kids who encourage others to be strong, not the ones who put others down to feel good about themselves.

4. Loser

There will be times when this word is used appropriately (as in the person who comes in last place is the loser), but “loser” has become a word used to put others down. It is used recklessly and flippantly, but never to build others up. It is another ugly word that becomes too easy to use if we don’t make the decision not to use it.

Kids in a tent

Sweet ones, you will hear many people that you admire using these words, so I want you to know that it is not your responsibility to correct what others say. It is also not your place to judge others for what they say or don’t say.

It IS your responsibility to use your words in a way that brings healing. This is my desire for you, to speak life, to speak love.

In the process of writing this letter, I said something that we have deemed off limits in our family. And Ethan, you corrected me. I share this, because I want you to remember that Mommy is on a journey too. I often use words recklessly and for effect. I have a lot of growing to do and I just want to be completely clear about that.

God uses each one of you to make me more like Him.

I love you all to the waxing crescent and back,

Mommy

Not So (Small) Stories Fifth Edition: a community of writers focused on craft.

Linking with a community of writers who are writing on the prompt “Word. Speech. Language”. Feel free to join in at Kirsten Oliphant’s place.

 

28 Comments

  1. Anita Ojeda
    March 5, 2014

    Ah, your list of reckless words that should be purged from one’s vocabulary includes all of the words on my list (Shut up is also taboo). I’m glad there are other parents out there teaching their children about reckless words (and memorizing scriptures ((without the references))).

    Reply
    • Becky Daye
      March 5, 2014

      I have just felt so convicted lately, Anita! Shut up isn’t on this list, because it has never been one that we allowed. I feel like we just get comfortable with words and we forget how hurtful they are. Nothing like a good scripture verse to convict!

      Reply
  2. Katie
    March 5, 2014

    Lovely, and also convicting! Hmm. What do you think about the use of reckless words in private company…i.e. referring to people/causes we don’t agree with? Probably still destructive, even if they aren’t said to someone directly. This is a good reminder of the destructive power of words.

    Reply
    • Becky Daye
      March 6, 2014

      These are just my thoughts, Katie, but I have found that if I speak in derogatory ways in private, it slips over into the public sphere. I didn’t go into it here, but the Proverbs are also full of admonitions to “fools” and so there is a place for recognizing folly in others. But my kids don’t have the wisdom or the maturity to make those distinctions and they are certainly not using these words in a righteous way!
      I think the Bible is so clear on how we are to speak about others- with humility and gentleness, speaking the truth always in love- that there isn’t a whole lot of room for words that don’t build others up.

      Reply
  3. Laura Melchor
    March 6, 2014

    I can definitely learn from your list–it’s amazing how easy it is to call things “stupid” or “lame” –those two are the ones I think I use too often from this list. Thank you for the reminder to really think about what we say! Sometimes when we grow up and leave our parents’ homes and ears, we slip into what we hear others saying, and reminders always help us think about our values once more.

    Reply
    • Becky Daye
      March 6, 2014

      I completely agree with you, Laura! The reminder for my kids is just as much for me. It is too easy to slip into using words that we hear. But I can’t expect my kids to speak life if I am not doing it myself!

      Reply
  4. Kristi
    March 6, 2014

    I love this list! My daughter hasn’t picked up all of these yet (hopefully never!), but “stupid” is one we’ve been working for a while to eliminate, from my speech as well as hers!

    Reply
    • Becky Daye
      March 6, 2014

      Thank you, Kristi! Oh, words are tricky things, aren’t they?

      Reply
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  5. Carol Bovee
    March 6, 2014

    I loved this. I love that you made it so very personal and real. I love that you teach and choose to live placing value on those around you. I love that you own your personal battle as well and not just advise your children. I love your list, as I try to ban those things from my classroom as well!

    Reply
    • Becky Daye
      March 6, 2014

      Thank you for all the love, Carol! 🙂 It is part of my desire to live intentionally and model it for my kids. Words are a tough one for sure, but so worth working on!

      Reply
  6. Courtney Lott
    March 6, 2014

    Oh how easy it is to use careless words! I think in Christian culture we are very weary of using culturally accepted swear words but then forgot others such as the above listed. Thank you for sharing this letter with your children, and for your transparency.

    Reply
    • Becky Daye
      March 7, 2014

      You are so right! It IS easy and I have found that if we aren’t intentional, we will just slip into using words without even thinking about it. The other danger is believing that it is no big deal. We had gotten to that place as a family and when we memorized this verse, it really hit me hard. I want to be intentional with our speech!
      Thanks for your comment, Courtney!

      Reply
  7. Jenny Mac
    March 7, 2014

    I need to write more posts like this, to my kids. To memorialize the way we are doing things so that they can look back and maybe even refer to it when raising their own children.

    It also occurs to me that often people use these and other hurtful (or even foul) words because it’s human nature, elspecally in this culture, to go for the jugular, to cut to e quick. Sometimes writers, even some I consider to be good writers, use such words, it appears, to take the easy way out. Raising emotions by pushing the easy to reach buttons instead of artfully crafting something.

    Reply
    • Becky Daye
      March 7, 2014

      I love what you say here, Jenny about how we have a tendency to push buttons instead of artfully crafting our words. As I was thinking about writing this post, that was one of the things that was in my thoughts- how I want my kids to be word weavers, to be thoughtful in their speech and to be creative with their vocabulary, not just settling for the easy words that might get a response, but leave others feeling emotions that are not necessary. Our culture has been ripped apart in so many ways- I think everyone is just hurting and so the easiest thing is to hurt others. I want my kids to use words that bring healing!
      And my “letters to my kids” posts are some of my favorites for the very reason you express in your comment. I want to leave a legacy for my kids- not one of perfection, but one of learning and growing along the way!

      Reply
  8. Solveig Anderson
    March 7, 2014

    Really enjoyed reading your piece. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Becky Daye
      March 7, 2014

      Thanks, Solveig!
      Dave and I still jokingly say “I’ll kick the butt out of you” on occasion. It always makes us laugh! Love you!!!

      Reply
  9. Emily @ Light and Loveliness
    March 7, 2014

    Thanks for your thoughts. I agree with you on these four words.

    Reply
    • Becky Daye
      March 7, 2014

      Sometimes I wonder if I am being a little ridiculous, but then I hear my precious 5 year old say something is stupid and I cringe and I am reminded that I am on the right path for our family!

      Reply
  10. Cat Polandc
    March 7, 2014

    I’m so glad you wrote this. People think I’m crazy because I don’t want my girls to say “stupid.” The funny thing is, I catch myself doing it ALL THE TIME. “This stupid jacket won’t zip!,” etc. Setting verbal boundaries for our children helps us remember them ourselves.

    Reply
    • Becky Daye
      March 7, 2014

      OH, I know, Cat! It is such a crazy thing. “Setting verbal boundaries for our children helps us remember them ourselves”- yes. Exactly!

      Reply
  11. Kami Huyse
    March 8, 2014

    I am memorizing that scripture.

    Reply
    • Becky Daye
      March 8, 2014

      I am so glad we all have! It has been such a positive thing for our family!

      Reply
  12. Peach
    March 10, 2014

    It is so lovely, to have such a beautiful momento for your children. I loved especially, “This is my desire for you, to speak life, to speak love.” <3

    Reply
  13. Amy
    March 11, 2014

    I can relate to many of these examples, and could add a few words. It’s such a struggle with my youngest…the oldest has never had an issue. Words should bring life! Good thoughts!

    Reply

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