By Rob Hill, Pastor at King’s Way Alliance Church 

Words are powerful and thought-provoking.  Go ahead, try to think without using words…can’t do it, can you?!  However, that is not what I mean. 

Words have meaning, and meaning carries with it consequences—for good or for ill.  Often times we live as if we are on the playground singing Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.  Remember that rhyme?  Have you used it recently?  As parents, we use it with our kiddos when someone says something mean to our little ones.  Unfortunately, our good intentions have encouraged our children to ignore hurtful comments, instead of addressing them.  Our children then force themselves to get over it or just rub some dirt on it or, well you fill in the blank.  Whatever phrase you use, you end up teaching your child a very unhealthy pattern of stuffing their feelings.   

The other lesson we unintentionally teach our kiddos is that they lack value in our life.  We might say, “Oh did the bully say something mean to you?  Well, we know the truth, so don’t worry what he or she says.  You need to just move on and avoid him or her.”  Yes, that’s true, move on.  However, let’s also address the words that have pierced the heart of our little ones.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Hug your son or daughter close
  • Whisper words of understanding
  • Cry with them
  • Seek to understand why the words used were hurtful words 
  • Guide your child to an understanding of who they are in Jesus—fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14) 
  • Shepherd their heart with the care that Jesus provides

Speak words of life rather than condemnation.  Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”  So, when it comes to our children (and all people really), words have meaning, and meaning carries consequences.  Rather than rush through a hurt, spend time with the hurting one.  Rather than brush off words that tear down, acknowledge them.  The words are there!  They aren’t spoken in a vacuum!  As much as we want to, don’t try to fix the hurt.  Not allowing a person to acknowledge the hurt is like telling someone who broke their femur, “rub some dirt on it…you will be fine!”  Seek to understand the basis of the hurt.  Often times it isn’t the words that hurt the most, but the tone and the source of the words.  If the person is a stranger, the words hurt less.  If the words come from a close friend or relative, that can be devastating.  When it’s time, help the person turn the corner of the hurt towards healing.  And when all else fails, sit quietly and pray that God will make your mouth a fountain of life (Proverbs 10:11). 

To recap:  Words have meaning, and meaning carries consequences.  When it comes to helping someone through the minefields of hurtful words, we need to:

  1. Be present.  Don’t rush it
  2. Acknowledge the hurt
  3. Allow your loved one to work towards healing—don’t fix it for them
  4. Seek to understand where the hurt is coming from 
  5. Pray. Sit quietly before the Lord, instead of filling the silence with words

If we commit to implementing these ideas with our loved ones, specifically our kiddos, we can help develop people who navigate the world using words that speak life, rather than destruction.