“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me!” Oh yeah…? When we were growing up, our parents gave us some pretty flimsy advice when it came to dealing with taunts, teasing, and putdowns. “Just ignore it,” they’d say. “Easier said than done,” was usually my response.
Scripture is quite clear that the tongue is one of the most dangerous weapons known to man. It can build one person up and tear another right down. And oftentimes, the words we use most carelessly or thoughtlessly are the ones that wind up doing the most harm.
Even with anti-bullying initiatives these days, putdowns are still part of our kids’ cultural landscape. So, what’s a parent to do? I suggest that, first and foremost, you try making your home a “Putdown-Free Zone.”
Here’s how it works—simply require each member of your household to refrain from putting down anyone else. Easy, right? Well, maybe not at first. But in time, it actually gets easier.
Years ago, a high school history teacher was discussing world cultures with a class of ninth-graders. In the middle of his lecture on cultural norms, he stopped and asked them this question – “If you could only give love to someone or receive love from someone, which would you choose?”
Overwhelming, the class opted for the latter because who wouldn’t want to receive love, right? Well, there was one young lady in the room who decided to buck the trend. She declared, “I’d rather give love—because if everyone gave, then everyone would receive, too.”
That same principle also applies when it comes to how our families choose the words we use. If everyone in your home spoke only words of encouragement, affirmation, appreciation, and support to one another, think of what kind of family life you’d enjoy! Now consider the ramifications in our schools, communities – even in our churches.
As a parent, your words have power: in the lives of your spouse, your children—everyone you come in contact with. So never underestimate the power of your words. And never forget that you have the power to choose the words you use!
Now, for the experiment – try making your home a “Putdown-Free Zone” for ten days. Keep a journal of what happens as a result. Include the number of times each member of the family “blows it” and who has the easiest time paying compliments rather than piling up criticism.
You can do it! Be an encourager! Make your home a “Putdown-Free Zone!”