Parenting Skills 101: Speak Life!

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue” Proverbs 18:21 (KJV).

Jamaica (like many other countries) is an ‘oral’ society. Much of what we know came from what we heard someone say. And, like it or not, our greatest, primary and most fundamental teachers are our parents!

Long before we entered a classroom or learnt to read … we were learning from our parents. The lessons were fundamental and taught us about respect for ourselves, sharing with and caring for others, valuing and caring for the things that we have, and determination – the drive to succeed! We also learnt about tolerance, prejudices and respect for others. Yes, some things are innate – but so many were learnt from what we heard our parents say (and what we saw/see them do).

Pronouncing A Curse

We may argue from vantage points of class and socio-economic status; but very few would deny that these are difficult economic times in Jamaica. Even more so for single parents and dysfunctional families. As the pressure mounts – the bills, the deadlines, the anger, the frustration – we sometimes say things that are hurtful. Often times, we say them to those who cannot lash back out at us … those who are dependent on us … our children.

“Yuh black like!”; “Gwaan man, yuh will never amount to nuttn!”; “Yuh dunce like!”; “Yuh come een just like yuh no-good, wukliss puppa”; “Is airite, mi nuh expect yuh fi tek care ah mi inna mi ole age!”

Sounds familiar? Maybe you never said it to your child(ren); but perhaps you heard a mother or father say it to theirs.

Or, how about the mother, who recently (and innocently) said of her daughter (in her hearing) – “yes, she move fast, fi someone who fah foot nuh whola”. This against the background that the child had been born with a hereditary deformity and diagnosed as never to have the ability to walk, but now – miraculously – she not only walks; but she runs!

The examples may be in our Jamaican vernacular; but they span across the divides of class and social status.

Unfortunately, the pronouncements often times come from the (single) mothers, who themselves have inherent and unresolved issues with absentee fathers. Sometimes it’s born from unrealised dreams that were aborted with the advent of an unplanned pregnancy, and no paternal support.

Whatever the genesis, we need to know and remember that our words are like seeds planted in the lives of our children. When we speak ill of and to them, we are, indeed, pronouncing a curse upon them that will yet bear those very fruits. Many, who have heard it often enough, have simply self-actualized it.

Sowing Good Seeds

On the flip side, there are parents who consistently speak good things into the lives of their children; but somehow the seeds seem to fall on infertile grounds. They pray, fast and beg … but nothing seems to grow.

My mother was one such parent! She lived through the challenges of the ’70s and watched my brother get caught up in unsavoury company. She watched also as so many of his friends died in varying ways as a direct result of their ‘involvements’. She wept, as a mother would, on the death of each one; because she knew them and even fed them. And she wept even more, as she feared the same demise for her son.

Today (some 30 years later), my brother is the Pastor of an inner-city church: working in the vineyard and ushering souls into the Kingdom.

Keep speaking life into the lives of your children!

Harvest Time

For those who keep speaking life into the lives of your children, but seemingly see no results: here’s another tip.

Have you ever been in a situation where you keep saying the same thing over and over and over again to your children and they just don’t seem to hear or care? Then, a stranger or a family friend comes by and says THE SAME THING and finally – eureka – they get it!

No, it was not just what the third party said: rest assured – you already planted the seed – and just then was harvest time!

Yes – food, clothing and shelter are necessary ingredients for bringing up our children; but guard your words – for they will ultimately determine the structure and quality of their lives.

Walk good, ’til next time …


About Counselor77

A pretty good listener; occasionally I actually have something worthwhile to say ... it may be on religion, politics, love, public affairs (you name it) ... let's talk - we CAN make a difference.
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2 Responses to Parenting Skills 101: Speak Life!

  1. Petry says:

    True word!

    Yes, it sounds very familiar. I just have one word for those who have never said it to their child(ren); but have heard a mother or father say it to theirs. Whether you are a neighbour, friend or relative, I think you should encourage that mother or father to speak life and positive things to their child(ren). I still believe it takes a village to raise a child, so we all have a part to play in the socialization process.

    I guess some parents don’t even realize how much of an impact their words have on their child or children.

    May you continue to be inspired to write!

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