Jennifer's books

Goodbye, Vitamin
American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land
Mrs. Hemingway
Poetry Will Save Your Life: A Memoir
The Princess Diarist
Watch Me Disappear
Hello, Sunshine
Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success
A Man Called Ove
The Heirs
Our Souls at Night
White Fur
Confessions of a Domestic Failure
The Map That Leads to You
The Little French Bistro
Love the Wine You're With
Always and Forever, Lara Jean
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
The Party
New Boy

Jennifer Curry's favorite books »

Monday, March 6, 2017

Words Matter

Words are powerful. As a reader, I recognize the power words have to open our eyes to new ideas and to change our lives. If I believe that the words I read in the Bible or novels or children’s book are strong enough to teach my kids about life and loving others, then how much more powerful are the words I speak over them? The words we speak over our kids (or do not) speak matter. Some words hurt, but other words heal and speak life and give confidence.

I remember hearing another new mom discuss how her parents were not affectionate. This is something that we hear often. However, she went on to discuss how it was not simply in the absence of physical embraces, but also in their lack of loving and kind words. She could not recall hearing her parents tell her they loved her or they were proud of her. In the same room, a different mom told a story about how she always felt like her parents did not think she was smart or beautiful because they never said so. Since those words were absent, she grew up thinking she did not possess either of these traits.

As a new mom, these conversations seeped deep into my heart and mind. I vowed then that I would go out of my way to make sure my words made my children feel known, safe and loved.

sibling love

When my oldest child started K3, we had a ten minute car ride in the mornings. We used these peaceful car rides as times to talk about the upcoming day and pray. I cherished these quiet moments with just us in the car. All noise of the morning rush disappeared as we drove down the tree lined roads of our country town in the direction of his school. Between passing cows and haybales, we would talk to one another and to God.

“Dear Lord, thank you so much for another beautiful day. And, thank you for my son. Thank you for blessing me with the opportunity to be his mother. Thank you for giving him a kind and loving spirit. Thank you for making him brave and giving him courage. Thank you for making him such a friendly, outgoing little boy. Thank you for giving him a respectful attitude and an obedient nature. Thank you for giving him a great big brain with a smart mind.”

Knox would sit silently in his little car seat and listen as I praised his strengths in my morning prayers. He loved to hear me thank God for his bravery. He would puff up his little chest and show his muscles. Adorable actions that made my mama heart smile, but also a visual reminder that the words I speak matter. My words are both a reflection of who I believe he can be and a prayer of thankfulness for the God-given traits he seems to already possess.

Apparently, he has already taken note. One morning, I heard this prayer: “And thank you God for making me brave and all those other great things.” So, we have started working on the word “humble” because he now sings his own praises. However, I’d rather him be confident in our love and acceptance than question his value in our eyes.

Now, he is a little older. All those spoken words and prayers praising his courage seem to have laid a foundation. He often takes on the role of the brave knight rushing in to fight the battles for others.

Recently, we attended an elementary friend’s birthday party. I watched him closely from afar to see if all those times I told him he is “loving and kind” are true when he is away from his mom. My heart felt a little squeeze as I watched him lead the kids who were afraid of snakes and other creepy crawly things gently through the reptile room at the science center. He held their hands and spoke quiet words of encouragement. He is using his words to speak simple truths too. I see now that my words have made a difference. His words will make a difference too.

I also have a daughter. She hears the words “pretty,” “cute” and “beautiful” regularly, so I am taking the same approach and also telling her she is brave, kind, smart, loving and strong. Now, she tells me daily, “I so strong” as she picks up and carries her own chair over to me at story time. She believes it because I used those words over and over again.

It is more than simply pointing out traits that are praiseworthy and unique – it is laying a foundation. There will come a day when they both begin to search for who they are on their own, and I hope they will remember their mother’s words during the tough parts of their journeys.

sibling love

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