The moment her new teacher handed my eager 6 year old daughter a poem with a bag of colorful confetti attached to it at Meet the Teacher, and said, “Read this the night before school starts,” I knew we were both going to love the first grade.
We read the poem the night before school and then we sprinkled the confetti under her pillow so she would sleep well and wake up ready. Because when you’re going into the first grade, from new pencils to the school bus, everything is magical.
I gently shook her awake the next morning and she popped up, bright eyed and said, “the magic worked, Momma! I slept so good and I’m ready for the first grade!”
I smiled at her words, her innocence and her simple belief that the paper confetti scattered under her pillow worked it’s magic. She believed it because I believed it with her.
It struck me again how powerful my words are over her, how she simply believes what I say because she trusts me. I believed the words on the poem would help her sleep well and calm her back-to-school anxiety, she believed it too.
Her first impression of God comes from me. She believes what I say and what I do until the world influences her otherwise and then she has a choice to make.
From the earliest age, we use our parental influence over our children by our words. We tell our toddlers the stove is hot. It only takes one touch to understand the truth of our words. We earn trust with our kids because we speak truth.
Words are like magic, when cast over someone they have the extraordinary power of influence. They can speak life or death; they can encourage or destroy.
When I tell my daughters they look beautiful, they believe me. With just a look, I can affirm what they are wearing or make them question their choice. Just as powerful as our positive words are, our negative ones can have the same devastating result and leaving lasting marks.
With that power and influence, we as mothers carry a heavy burden to choose our words well. Often we learn the truth of our words once they’ve been spoken in anger or reproach. I know I have cast ugly words like arrows I cannot retrieve. I am constantly readjusting my aim, so my words are used more carefully:
5 Things We Must Not Say to Our Daughters:
1. “Why can’t you be more like ______?” We must not compare them to other girls. Our daughters need to have the freedom to be the unique person God created them to be.
2. “You should wear this. It will make you look pretty. Or if you lost a little weight…” We must not make their worth about their appearance. True beauty comes from the inside and it deserves equal praise.
3. “I hate my fat hips, lips, fill in the ____.” [Mothers] We must not talk ugly about our own bodies. Our girls are taking cues from how we discuss our own body image.
4. “Everyone has a ____, or is doing ______,so you must too.” We must not look to cultural norms as a model for our daughters. Just because the world is doing it, doesn’t make it right. Our daughters live under enormous pressure to fit into our society. They don’t have to.
5. “Sure, you can have a (Facebook account, wear whatever you want, have a boyfriend, etc) ______.” Giving them too much freedom too soon puts them in a precarious, often dangerous place. It encourages them to grow up too quickly. It happens soon enough without us pushing them.
I choose to use my words to speak love and grace over my daughters because they have the power to influence who they are and who they will become.