Control Your Tongue to Guard Their Hearts
Have you ever been in a situation where someone said something to you, and you came up with the perfect comeback
hours days later?
I’m seriously asking because that’s never happened to me.
I am so good at comebacks my husband made a rule that I could only say the fifth thing that popped into my head.
The first couple of things that pop into my head are too mean. Like, make marines cry mean or keep you up at night mean.
I’m probably the meanest pastor’s wife in the world.
I grew up in a home very different than the one I want my kids to grow up in.
One of the huge differences is that we were encouraged to say whatever we wanted as a sort of therapeutic release. And while this may sound good on the surface, it wasn’t.
Saying whatever you want because you need to get it off your chest, usually results in hurting someone else’s feelings.
I grew up hearing my mom say incredibly hurtful things. Then excuse herself saying, “I’m just being honest about how I feel.”
And while I am all for being honest and open with my kids, I’m not in favor of spewing hateful things to make yourself feel better.
Unfortunately, knowing in my head that I don’t want to behave this way, doesn’t automatically overcome years of being encouraged to behave this way.
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The phrase that I’m really struggling with right now pops out of my mouth when my kids have behaved in a particularly foolish and childish way.
You know, like a kid.
I’ll walk into the room and they’ve decided to carve their names into the dresser and bed frame or to paint the bunk beds and curtains with purple fingernail polish, and I’ll say,
“What is wrong with you?!!?”
Apparently, I’ve done it for years. I recently asked my oldest that question after some particularly bad decisions and she quietly answered, “Nothing. I just made a bad decision.”
At that moment the full weight of it hit me.
What a horrible thing to say to a child.
It suggests that a bad decision means there is something wrong with them.
How stupid I have been.
My kids are made in the image and likeness of God. He designed them exactly the way he wanted them to be. There’s nothing wrong with them. They’re just children who make bad decisions.
So, I’m working on controlling my tongue to guard their hearts.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. – Ephesians 4:29
What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them. – Matthew 15:11
For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. 1 Peter 3:10
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6
It goes on and on.
The Bible says so much about controlling your words.
So I’m working on it.
I know that it will always be a struggle for me, so I’m trying to rewire my brain to have some ready answers when faced with situations that are triggers for me.
My new question when faced with childhood craziness is simply,
This gives me a chance to breathe while they tell me some of the longest most convoluted explanations I’ve ever heard.
The most recent being why they thought it was a good idea to work together as a team of three to build a tool with Legos that would drill a hole in the sheetrock in their bedroom.
Answer: to find a spider the size of a grain of rice so they could kill it.
I still remember a lot of the things that were said to me growing up.
Some of those things still influence who I am today.
I struggle with feeling like I’m not good enough at anything I do.
I struggle with feeling guilty for everything.
I struggle with wanting to throw away all clutter so the house will finally be clean enough.
My kids will develop their own issues.
They need me to be on their side, encouraging them, not loudly questioning their mental state.
Here are three ways to help you control your tongue.
1. Examine What You Say
Take some time when things are calm examine what you say to your kids when you are angry.
If you can’t think of what you say, try asking your kids.
I promise they remember what you say the most when you’re angry.
It might surprise you.
Consider Your Triggers
My kids have an amazing ability to set me off. I taught in an alternative school for years and had kids cuss at me, threaten me, and just generally hate me.
I dealt with that nonsense like a champ.
But my own children, whom I love dearly, can do things that make me angry in ways I didn’t even know were possible before having kids.
When I take the time to stop and think about what has set me off, it’s usually a cumulative effect.
While it may feel like they’ve had a secret meeting in which they decided to collaborate to torture me, it’s really just that there’s four of them, and we are together all day every day.
It’s that one of them spills their drink because they didn’t put a lid on it as I told them.
Then, one of them opens the back door and lets our dog escape.
Then, one of them dumps out 1,000 Legos to find some hair for their Lego man.
Then one of them throws all the clean laundry off the couch so they can jump on it, and I lose it.
This happens every day.
I’m learning to anticipate the chaos, and prepare my response.
I’ve also learned that it’s much worse if I’m hungry.
I’m not very good at feeding myself.
I stay very busy through the day, and it’s not until I’m hangry that I stop to eat.
To combat that, I’ve committed to eating when the kids eat.
Not necessarily what the kids eat, but when the kids eat.
I have several healthy “mom snacks” that I enjoy, so I eat those when they have goldfish.
If your first response is not wholesome and building others up, pray about some new phrases you can use.
As I said earlier, my new one is just, “Why?”
It’s great because it’s an open-ended, one-word question.
If your kids are anything like mine, they will talk FOR. EV. ER. if you give them the chance.
And while they are telling you a looooong story, take the time to pray. Ask God to help you control your tongue to protect your children’s hearts.
Lastly, memorize verses about controlling your words.
Sometimes I’m too angry to really even pray well.
A verse will pop into my head and roll around on repeat like a mantra until I’m calmed down.
But you cannot remember something that you never bothered to memorize in the first place.
Check out our post on how to teach kids to memorize scripture for some great tips.
It’s hard to control your tongue.
And it’s hard for everyone, so please don’t feel like you are alone in this struggle.
But it’s so important that we are careful with our words so that we can guard our children’s hearts.
“Above all else, guard your heart because everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23
As parents, it’s our job to guard our children’s hearts so that we can help them have good things flow from their precious hearts.
Do you struggle to control your tongue? What have you found to help you control your tongue so that you can guard your children’s hearts?