When Words Get in the Way
By Katie Mattiuzzo
Teen Girl Specialist (NGM)
Teenage girls are stereotypically known for saying incredibly ditsy things. The following happens to be from the collective brilliance of my sister's friends. ?
She doesn't speak very well English.
What, does light make shadows?
Girl 1: I'd like a turkey burger.
Girl 2: Why? Are you a vegetarian?
Girl 1: We're coming over and bringing Friends.
Girl 2: What friends? I look awful!
Girl 1: Monica, Ross, Phoebe, Rachel, Joey, Chandler
While playing a game...
Girl 1: Give a number that has the letter "K" in it.
Girl 2: Sixteen!!
Girl 1: I made a Paris calendar...
Girl 2: As in Paris Hilton?
Girl 1: No, like the Eiffle Tower
Girl 2: Ooohh...as in Paris the state!
Girl 1: I'm gonna go tanning and whiten my teeth.
Girl 2: How do you do that? Just open your mouth?
Girl 1: We're looking for a black Ford Sephora.
Girl 2: Don't you mean a black Ford Explorer? Sephora is makeup...
Girl 1: We got in at midnight thirty.
Girl 2: You mean, 12:30?
Girl 1: Man, look at player number 88. He's pretty cute...
Girl 2: Umm, I think that's BB. He's the bat boy.
Girl 1: Oh...
Girl 1: What day of the week is Cinco de Mayo? What day is it today?
Girl 2: Today is cinco de dos.
Girl 1: You mean, dos de mayo?
After reading these priceless quotes, your impression of these girls is that they aren't very intelligent. The words they spoke (are not only immortalized on my sister's Facebook page and now in this article) reflect badly on these poor girls who might in all actuality lack "book smarts" or who might be genuinely intelligent but just suffered a momentary lapse of reason. I say this because one of these quotes is in fact mine!
As Christians, we can't afford to have momentary lapses from our godly character. The words we say give impressions to the people around us ... including children. If you spout words of negativity, gossip, point out your children's flaw, or suffer from momentary lapses from our godly character with exclamations of any intensity when getting upset, you will give others, as well as your children, the impression that you are bitter, mean, and even volatile and cause them to be tense around you. On the other hand, if you flood your children with encouragement, vocalize praise to God for the things He has done, and put other people in a good light when you speak about them your children will absorb and emulate that and have a good impression of you.
Here are some Scriptures to digest as you look at your own life and think about how to continue guiding your children:
• "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be" (James 3:9,10, NIV).
These verses are referring to those who use their mouth to bring praises to God but then use that same mouth to curse and/or speak against people. As you lead by example, teach your children healthy ways of handling their frustrations with other people and about how it hurts God when we cut others down.
• "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry" (James 1:19, NIV).
Those momentary lapses from our godly character, as I mentioned earlier, are what I think of when I read this verse. In regard to anger there are two marks of true maturity: being able to hold your tongue when it would be so much easier to just go off, and finding different ways to express frustration instead of crude or curse words. Especially in front of your kids. Growing up my mom had a laundry list of dirty words - it seemed like the only words left to use were, "Tree!," "Noodles!," and "Conflabit!" I try my hardest still to this day to eliminate any dirty words from my vocabulary. Explain to your children the damage they can cause by speaking too quickly when they are mad. I'm sure we all have stories of less than proud moments demonstrating this exact point.
• "When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise" (Proverbs 10:19, NIV).
This verse serves as a good reminder that sometimes it's better to just stop talking. Had the girls who were quoted above stopped talking sooner or had at least paused a moment to think their thought through, they would not have sounded so foolish. Not only can continuing to talk make you look foolish sometimes, but it can also lead you to sin. Sin resulting from talking too much doesn't have to just be gossip. What about arrogance and pride? What about inciting an argument with someone because you insist on sharing your opinions time and time again. What about spilling too much information and violating someone's confidence in you? Recognize any of these tendencies in your children as they are in conversation with you or with others at home so you can bring it to their attention.
Words have the power to glorify God or to curse God - to speak life or death - and in the quotes previously mentioned, to display ignorance or intelligence. What do your words say about you?
Katie Mattiuzzo is the Teen Girl Specialist with the national Girls Ministries Department. She and her sister love to laugh at the quirky things they and their friends say so they enjoyed every minute of their dorm room life at Evangel University where the graduated. Katie currently resides in Springfield, Missouri, with her husband, Nick, and maltipoo puppy, Luna.