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Words are Categorical - Issue 251
June 01, 2012
Hi there! ....


This week is full on for our local community. We have two weeks of events each year, known as The Kimberley Muster. Though we don’t participate in many events this week we have done more than we usually do. Naomi was asked to help out doing some screen printing at the Street Party. She had a ball but from an educational perspective this was an amazing opportunity – she learnt in one evening the screen printing process and for an arty person like Naomi that was just excellent! Then we went to a concert called “Music Under the Stars”. It was a lovely evening (though the locals felt the cold!!) we sat outdoors, in a natural amphitheatre and enjoyed the music by the two school choirs and the adults community choir. This event always has a community feel to it – it is the highlight for us. Then we went to the Gospel Festival which featured Steve Grace – a favourite Australian country/gospel singer. Tonight we head off to the main concert which has both local talent and some big ticket names. So we have certainly had our fill of music this week.

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Words are Categorical

What type of words do you speak?

We know that words can be gentle and kind, or harsh and angry. Words can be encouraging or disheartening, joyful or gloomy. Words can be truthful or false. Our words express every emotion, motivation, thought, feeling.

We may be very familiar with this Bible verse:

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits.
Proverbs 18:21

We know we need to watch our tongue. I don’t think that is a particularly new encouragement, though one we may often need to hear.

Words can be categorised in another way though:

  • Instruction words
  • Direction words
  • Correction words
  • Praise and encouragement words
  • Conversation words

If you were to categorise the times you speak to your children, which category would be the most often used? Which ‘type’ of words take up most of your time when interacting with your children?

Instruction Words: We are to teach and train our children and that will mean we need to talk to them. Deut 6:7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up. Instruction words are spoken to our children’s hearts – based on who God is, what God has done and what God says - we instruct their belief system, their character, their will, their emotions and their understandings.

Direction Words: these are the ‘do this’, ‘do that’ type of words. These words get things done.

Correction words: Correction words should help our children get back on track. Unfortunately we often think this means a verbal bashing – but we can use gentle words, words that get along side of our children, that encourage them to think about what is in their heart, how that is affecting their actions, and what they need to do about it.

Praise and Encouragement words: I think it is well known that for every negative word we say we should say three positive. This is not a little check list we keep in our heads always making sure we keep it balanced, but rather it should be a statistic that makes us check our attitude towards our children. Do we see the good they do, do we see the good choices, the right heart that they have at times. Do we give them encouragement?

Conversation words: Do you spend time getting to know your kids? Do you spend time giving of yourself so your kids can get to know you? Or do you sit at home, pining for some ‘real’ conversation? Our children are people, they are unique and interesting and we can spend delightful conversation getting to know what makes them tick and living life together.

If we are always giving direction and correction to our children the balance of our words is out of whack. The other three categories, instruction, praise, conversation should take up most of our time. If we do well in these three the other two, direction and correction, will be needed less. I’m not saying we don’t need to give direction and correction (and in some seasons, like toddler and preschool years, we may need to give a lot) but we to check to see if we have a healthy balance.

I find this verse very challenging when I consider my role as a parent

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths,
but only such as is good for building up,
as fits the occasion,
that it may give grace to those who hear.
Ephesians 4:29

Am I using my words to build up, and empower my children to do what is right?


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Until next week

Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!


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Live life with your Kids newsletter is about being a deliberate parent, about enjoying family life and using the opportunities that happen to teach and train your children in righteousness (right living with God). I hope that you will find regular encouragement as you live life with your kids!

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