Don’t Say Everything You Think

It’s not breaking news that some parents can be downright nasty to their children. Parenting includes the responsibility to verbally reprimand kids. Sometimes, something needs to be said. But how we as parents speak to our kids is important!

No parent is above making occasional snarky remarks to their kids. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. We all fall short. It’s just that some parents develop a pattern for regularly criticizing their kids. Constant criticism from parents can do a lot of long-term damage to a child’s self-image and the confidence they need to become a functioning, responsible adult. A sharp remark or rebuke may feel good. It may even succeed in delivering your point — in the short-term. But frankly, criticism is a lousy long-term parenting strategy, and it will never deliver the positive results you seek in your kids.

I have a quick wit and a propensity for sarcasm, and with this amazing combination of skills, I create some really strong statements…that my kids never hear. Why? Because over the years of being a parent, I’ve learned an important key to successful communication and healthy relationships between parents and kids: Don’t say everything you think, and think before you speak.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Still, practicing self-control in what you say is an entirely biblical principle! “Watch your words and hold your tongue; you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.” –Proverbs 21:23 [MSG]

A home filled with constant criticism is a breeding ground for rebellion and negativity. So when your child has pushed your buttons and your emotions are running hot, save the hurtful comment. Give yourself a timeout to cool off. Consider the issue that needs to be addressed. Think about what you need to say before you say it. Then, make an appropriate and constructive comment.

The bottom line is that when you make critical remarks to your kids, you don’t win! You wound your kids and create relational distance between them and you. So do yourself and your family a favor: Don’t say everything you think!

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Doug Fields

Doug Fields is the senior director of HomeWord. He speaks to thousands of leaders, teenagers and parents each year. He’s also the author/co-author of 50+ books including: Parenting in a Screen Saturated Culture; Intentional Parenting; 7 Ways to be Her Hero – the One Your Wife Has Been Waiting For; and To Have and To Hold. In addition to Doug’s speaking and writing, he is also the co-founder of and the youth pastor at Mariners Church. Doug has been married for more than 35 years to his wonderful wife Cathy, and they live near their 3 married children and 3 grandchildren in Southern California.

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