As a parent of three girls, I often think about how my words are affecting them, especially when they were younger. I remember those days when one child’s disobedience, my own work or life stress, or even simple exhaustion caused me to outburst with something that caused me to hurt one my girls.
My mother taught me (when I was the cause of similar outbursts from her) that an apology and an age-appropriate explanation go a long long way to heal the hurt caused. I used this technique with my own girls. As soon as I was calm and able to think about my words and the real reason for the outburst, I would pull the child to me and explain to her as best I could why I yelled. My girls are now 25, 22, and 18. So far, they all seem to have forgiven me for any hurts I’ve caused.
I think it’s harder to see when my speech has caused positive changes or influence in their lives. How often do we tell others that something they have said was a powerful influence? Or offer an explanation and an apology for an ugly outburst? Perhaps something for me to work on this Lent.