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Words have power

11.11.19 | Parenting | by Rev. Elizabeth Moseley

Words have power

    But sometimes I’m shocked by what comes out of my kids’ mouths. Words, phrases, whole sentences. Funny things, and weird things, and mean things, and scary things. Statements that express ideas that I’m not ready for them to be thinking. And I wonder where they heard these words because — by golly — it wasn’t from us!

    Join us for The Parent Project 

    Monday, November 18  | 7:00 – 8:00 pm | Wesley Hall
    Whether it's on social media or face to face, in public arenas or in our homes, words have tremendous power to lift us up or tear us to shreds. Earlier and earlier, our kids are realizing the power their words hold and the power words hold over them. Join us for a discussion panel, featuring former Dallas Police Chief, David Brown, on the power of words, bullying, and what we as parents of all ages can do about it. 

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    “Use your words!” 

    How often have I said that to my children? At least 100 times. A DAY. 

    My older two generally don’t have to be reminded. But my littlest? She still likes to resort to what I lovingly refer to as her angry baby tiger noises. (Note: I have no idea what an angry baby tiger sounds like.) She stomps and cries, and inevitably, at some point I have to remind her as calmly as possible to use her words, since mommy doesn’t speak whatever language she thinks she’s using. 

    Words have power. 

    I ask her to use her words, so I can understand her. So I can connect with her. So I can hopefully help her to stop losing her mind and for the love of all things good put her shoes on. 

    The problem is that sometimes she uses words that I actually DON’T want her to use. This is something in which my older children join her. All three of them sometimes use words that I’m positive they don’t even know the meaning of. (Cue my best Inigo Montoya impression: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”) 

    Neil and I do our best to model excellent vocabulary and polite language. We are mindful that our little ones are absorbing everything that comes out of our mouths, not only the words we say but also the tone in which we say them. We don’t always do the perfect job, but we try never to put other people or ourselves down. And we try to use our words to explain and seek understanding. We know words have power. 

    But sometimes I’m shocked by what comes out of my kids’ mouths. Words, phrases, whole sentences. Funny things, and weird things, and mean things, and scary things. Statements that express ideas that I’m not ready for them to be thinking. And I wonder where they heard these words because — by golly — it wasn’t from us!

    So where do they hear it? Where are the words my children hear and say coming from? And how do I make sure they are responsible with the words they choose to use? And how do I protect them from words that will break their hearts? How can the words I use as a parent give them strength and resilience, kindness and joy?

    Words have power. From playgrounds to social media, from TV shows to little league fields, from friends’ houses to church sanctuaries, our kids hear a lot of words. Those words have power over our children in a way that we parents sometimes aren’t aware of, and then aren’t sure what to do about. 

    We’ve all heard the phrases, “Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” and “I am rubber, you are glue; whatever you say bounces off me, and sticks to you.” 

    While these are some of the best classic comebacks (along with “I know you are, but what am I?”), these statements are about resisting the power of words. But that’s nearly impossible for us mortals, and thus, far too often, neither statement is true. Most of us really CAN’T resist the power of words. We are not rubber, we are usually, in fact, glue. And the words we hear can deeply, deeply impact not only how we feel in the moment, but also how we see ourselves and the world around us. 

    While we can’t resist the power of words, I believe we CAN figure out how to deal with them, and how to use them well. I’m glad our church is hosting former Dallas Police Chief, David Brown, as well as a panel of four other people, most of whom are from our community, on Monday, November 18 at 7:00 pm in Wesley Hall to discuss the power of words and how they are influencing and impacting our children. 

    Through Chief Brown’s powerful personal story, the event will help parents of all ages think more critically about what words are impacting their kids and where those words are coming from, as well as what they can do about it. It’s free, open to everyone, and co-sponsored by the HPISD Parent Education Committee. You can register here

    Words have power. And I really want my three-year old to tap into that power to communicate better with her confused parents (I promise, we are just trying to help, baby girl!). But I also want all of my kids to appreciate the power that they already have. I want them to be thoughtful and careful with what they do with their words. And maybe, just maybe, be a tad bit less sticky when someone uses hurtful or careless words towards them.  


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