Yet again, here we sat at the kitchen table, tears streaming down her face. Regardless of how many times we went over the math rule, my daughter simply could not grasp what she was to do. I would show her a problem, work it with her and then ask her to try the next equation alone. The more I attempted to explain the concept to her, the more aggravated we both became.
Why was this so hard?
Instead of taking a moment and stepping away from the math lesson, I continued to try and explain what she needed to do. My daughter placed her head on the kitchen table and began sobbing. The harder she cried, the harsher my tone turned. Before I realized it, I was yelling.
Pointing at her textbook, I harshly asked, "Why are you making this so hard? It's a simple rule. I know you can do it. Try harder."
I am not proud of that particular mom/teacher moment I just shared but I believe it is a moment many of us parents have experienced in some form. Maybe your temper do not flare during a math lesson, but your child does something he/she knows is not right yet they do it anyway. Many times instead of tempering the stressful situation with grace and love, our flesh comes out and we tear them down instead of build them up.
Our tongue is a powerful thing- used for construction or destruction.
When I calmed down, I went to my daughter and tried to justify why I had raised my voice. "I push you because I know what you are capable of. That is why I get so aggravated." Even as I write my words, I see that it was such a lame excuse.
I half-heartedly apologized to my daughter, still feeling justified in why the situation escalated in the first place. My daughter turned to me and said, "Mom, your words are so harsh sometimes. It makes my heart sad."
God humbled me that day
As parents, we can justify what we say as motivation or tough love, but it is simply a matter of life and death.
In parenting, we can speak life over our families or we can speak death. On that particular homeschool day, I spoke death. I crushed her confidence. God used that momentous moment to remind me of a time that something very similar was spoken over me - in a 7th grade math class of all places...
I struggle with numbers. No one has ever been able to explain the why behind certain math rules and it drives me crazy. I am a question asker. If something does not make sense, I question it. If I want to know something, I ask it. I have found in my later years that really annoys certain types of people. My 7th grade math teacher was no exception.
In a room full of thirty or more students, my teacher was explaining a math concept that was simply over my head. I was trying really hard not to ask her anymore questions but I could not figure out a problem. Instead of asking her, I leaned over to my friend in class and asked her to explain it. In my 12-year-old brain, I was being a good student by not disturbing teacher. Apparently, I had annoyed her. Standing up, my teacher walked over to my desk. Looming over me, she asked, "Can you do nothing on your own? Are you stupid?"
I felt the crimson rising in my cheeks. I wanted to cry and hide under my desk. The room was silent and everyone was looking at me. Thank goodness the bell rang and it was time to go home. The words are you stupid played over and over in my head on the bus ride home.
Death was spoken over me that day and my spirit was broken. For a long time, I stopped asking questions out of fear that the person I was asking would retaliate. It takes me feeling safe with an individual, even to this day, to ask a question without having concern that I will be attacked.
Now, here I am with my daughter, desiring to foster an environment that welcomes questions and struggles and I did exactly what my math teacher did to me. For the second time that day, I went to my daughter and asked her to forgive me. I cried over my transgressions and explained, not in an attempt to excuse, but the personal thorn I had when it came to math.
What we speak into our children is very important and often times what we speak is laced with fear due to our own shortcomings. I am still not confident in math and it is a large reason why I want my daughter to be. I want her confident just as any parent would want their child, but the way we do it is very important.
We build confident children by speaking life into them, not death.
We speak life in their achievements.
We speak life into their friendships and relationships.
We speak life into their surroundings.
We speak life into their futures.
We speak life into their character.
We speak life into them by teaching God's truth and not our own.
Father God, help me be a speaker of life and not death. Show me the beauty in all situations and help me teach my children to do the same. Guard our minds and our tongues so that we are builders and not destructors.
Editor's note: This article was published on Heartskeeper. It has been republished here with permission.
Sarah is a Christian Author and Speaker. She wrote the parenting book, "Walking the Talk: A Parent's Guide to Intimacy and Healthy Relationships" and maintains the blog A Life Inspired. Her passion is to equip the next generation of families to speak boldly and walk confidently in their faith and charge as parents. You can stay up to date with Sarah on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.