Tell Me True Things {Real Life Parenting Lessons}

Last week my youngest son had a melt down. (He’s had meltdowns this week too, it’s not that uncommon.)

I can’t remember what caused this particular fit. Maybe homework, which he doesn’t enjoy, especially if his brother doesn’t have any. Maybe it was because I was making him read (finishing first grade unable to read causes him great anxiety, plus “reading is dumb.”) Or maybe one of his brothers had done something to set him off. Who knows.

I also can’t remember if I stayed calm and helped him deescalate – it’s nice if one of us chooses to be the adult in a meltdown situation. But let’s be real, there’s just as much chance that I wasn’t in a place to be calm, and responded to the fire of his temper tantrum with the gasoline of my anger, leading to both of us needing to apologize. It happens. I can’t remember.

What I do remember is holding him in my arms afterwards, feeling the anger drain out of him and the remorse rush in. I think this is a cycle for lots of children, and even adults: anger, bad behavior, regret and remorse, self-loathing. But the pattern is clearer in this child than I’ve ever observed, you can practically see the changes marching through his little body.

I reminded him that in our family, we don’t love because we get it right, we love because we belong to each other. I kissed and hugged and cuddled, but I couldn’t love away his downcast heart. So I asked him to tell me 5 true things about himself.

And he whispered, “I am loved.”

I didn’t hear him at first, so I had to make him repeat it. “I am loved.” And then he continued, “I am a friend. I am kind. I am caring. I have a family.”

The clouds began to lift, and my mama heart smiled. We’ve been speaking these truths over him since he was 2 years old, and I think this might be the first time he’s been able to speak them back.

So much of parenting is hard and there’s no way to know if we’re succeeding or if we should be putting cash money away into a “future therapy” fund for each of our kids. But there are a few things I think we’re getting right.

Apologizing when we lose our tempers.

Greeting each other with physical affection and kind words first thing in the morning and when we come back together at the end of our days at work and in school.

And speaking words of truth over our children. My husband started this tradition at bedtime, and none of them like to go to bed without their “special things”. I say a blessing over each of them, and Matt says a verse with them and prays (they always complain because my special things are so much shorter than his. That’s a holdover from my years as a stay at home mom: By bedtime, I’m short and sweet.)

I know that words are not magic. And if our words of truth, value, and love aren’t met by loving, truthful actions, then our words mean nothing. But I do believe there is power in our spoken words, especially the words we speak onto our children.

And I am so glad we have made the small investment over all these years to speak truth and value and love over our children. To tell them that God is good, that they are loved, that being in a family means belonging forever. And if (when?) they test the limits of our love, and run right up against our humanity, frailty, and failure, I hope they can learn and remember that God is not frail, and His love is forever.

God is good. You are loved. You belong.

I want to hand them true things as weapons against the lies the world tells them, against their own discouragement, against their own remorse, regret, failure.

God is good. You are loved. You belong.

I want to give them the gift of this habit, to respond to discouragement, to failure, to self-loathing, remorse, guilt, with true things.

God is good. You are loved. You belong.

And as with all good parenting techniques, I want to learn this lesson myself. When I’ve had a meltdown, blown it, am feeling discouraged and like a big fat failure, I want to be able to tell myself true things.

God is good. I am loved. I belong.

Real Life Parenting Lessons: Speaking words of truth, love, and value over our kids

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