What will their inner voices say?

So today I read something that stopped me in my tracks.  Momentarily, anyway.

I say “momentarily” because even after I felt horrible for fussing at my kids today I found myself doing it again later in the day.

I have found myself fussing at them quite a bit lately, and for things they need to be corrected on.  Bad attitudes, smart-alec tones, eye rolling, half-way done chores, grumpiness.  These things can’t be ignored but given the fact that I see this is an issue, I need to step back and try to find out why.

I may be dealing with something as simple as pre-teen hormones.  I may be dealing with slight apprehension over the massive changes the boys know are on the horizon.  Either way, I’m dealing with them poorly. I find myself fussing at them in tones that, when I replay them to myself, sound a little grumpy.  Whiny.  Bad-attitude-ish.  (I made that one up.)

If the way I speak to my kids eventually becomes the way they speak to me, I must change my tone to one I want to hear from them.

In reference to the quote above, I don’t want the negative things I’m saying to become their inner voice.  We all have heard things about ourselves that crushed our spirits and because of that, those ugly things replay in our minds.  One thing I heard as a young child is that I wasn’t a good artist.  I had drawn something for an influential adult and placed it where she’d find it.  I watched her reaction when she found it, not realizing how unfair of me it was to do so, and realized she was not at all impressed.  She even sort of smirked at it.  That moment I quit trying to draw.  I even think I quit trying to have good handwriting.  She never knew what she did that day, and I would never tell her.  (Most likely, if you’re reading this, it was not you, as I’m fairly certain she doesn’t read my blog.)

When I remember that crushing moment, and realize just how deeply it affected me, I want to avoid crushing my boys’ spirits like that.  I don’t want to tell them they’re great at something they’re only mediocre at, don’t get me wrong.  People need honesty, but gently.

Today, if my words and tones were to become my boys’ inner voices, they’d have a nagging presence with them all the time.  Right now I think they hear:

If you don’t do it right, you’ll do it again. Stop making the baby scream.  I’ve asked you that so many times.  Quit shooting that gun in my ear.  If you don’t ______ I’ll ______.  Remove that attitude or remove yourself from the room.  If you make a mess, clean it up.

Sure, I need to teach them to do these things, or not do them, whatever the case may be.  But I am responsible for MY tone and attitude first and foremost.  I do pray that tomorrow both are better as I would rather them hear:

Son, you GOT this.  I believe you can do this.  You finish tasks you start.  You complete your chores correctly and you do so the first time.  I like being around you.  You have a good sense of humor.  You are good at whatever you try but you excel at art/athletics/piano/comedy/math/writing/reading (depending on whose inner monologue we’re listening to).

And I got all of that out of a five minute veg-out on Pinterest.

I found this inspirational quote on Pinterest and it linked to this website.

About Jennifer

"Yes, they're all mine." The answer to the question I hear most often.
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4 Responses to What will their inner voices say?

  1. Oh Jennifer – I’ve been thinking for a while now about posting on this subject.
    What I want to speak to – is when we have a distinctively challenging child – a child who challenges us personally to the limits – how we respond can be crushing for them. I am trying to really examine myself that way. I am working on that and how I respond to each of our children but there seems to be something about particular children sometimes that makes us have to work a lot harder in different ways to connect/inspire/build-up/guide and avoid the opposite – a crushing of the spirit.
    Thanks so much for posting this – inspired me to tackle that post….

  2. Tracy Byrd says:

    Jennifer I to have been having days ok more like months just like this. I feel I am nagging and grumpy myself. I do not want to crush my children’s spirit. My children’s inner voices would not be very good. They do need correction and guideance but not my nagging and grumpiness. I read your post and then read the post above. Wow! I have been trying to figure things out and then there it was. With some of my children I need to work harder. Am I doing that? The answer is No. Thank you for posting this. God has an awesome of telling us what we need to hear. Sometimes (for me any way) I need to see it in black n white in front of me.

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