09.02.2011 The Blog No Comments

Daddy 101: Basic Instructions Pt. 2

Rule #2: do not call your children idiots.

He kept saying it whenever he would make reference to his children. He didn’t just say it once. He must have said it four or five times. “My children, the three idiots.” I was attending an annual conference in Orlando, Florida in mid June when I selected a breakout session called “Nurturing the Next Generation” as one of my electives. The speaker, a seminary professor, kept saying, “my children, the three idiots” whenever he would talk about his kids. I find various aspects of this ironic situation quite sad. Beyond the fact that other people in attendance laughed when the speaker made this comment is the fact that the title of the session included the words Nurturing and Next Generation. In addition to giving Kenda Creasy Dean and the Pew Foundation credit for work that Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton had completed, he kept calling Kenda Dean, Pamela Dean. It was an all around disappointment, but the greatest disappointment came every time he called his children “idiots.”

I remember as a child hearing the phrase, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Whoever came up with that saying must have some deep suppressed issues in their adult life. Most of us heard that phrase while growing up, and as adults we can all admit that the phrase is a bunch of hog-wash. Statistics show that one of the most severe forms of abuse is emotional abuse, yet it is also one of the hardest to prove or document. The words that we use as a parent, and as a spouse, have great power.

Paul exhorts his male readers in Ephesians 6:4 not to exasperate their children. Fathers are commanded to not provoke their children to anger. Yet, we all know that one of the primary ways we provoke our children is with the use of our mouth. Children do not need to hear that they are idiots, or bad, or stupid from their parents. Instead, they need to hear that they are loved, special, smart, and good looking from their parents. We should not wait for M-TV, Justin Bieber, or Miley Cyrus to tell our children what they must become in order to be successful in the world, because, to be honest, they have not figured it out yet themselves. What was cool on M-TV ten years ago is no longer cool today. And what is cool today will no longer be cool tomorrow.

Our children are listening. The question is, what are we saying? And if our words are not filled the affirmation they are seeking, then who else are they listening to? Here is a challenge. No matter how old your child, no matter what the circumstances may be, phone, email, text, or have a face-to-face conversation with your child today, and tell them that you are proud of them.

About the author

Ryan is the Founder & Director of Daddy Discipleship and the Associate Editor for The Journal of Discipleship & Family Ministry.

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