Thursday, May 9, 2019

#parentingtruth No. 17 - the danger of Can't

parenting truths, childhood, wise words, speak the truth in love

Oh parents, our words hold so much weight in the minds and hearts of our children. We ought to think more and talk less. One of the most dangerous words we may speak is can't.

First off, I have to say that this is a contraction that I have never liked. It sounds so harsh. The real word is cannot, which implies to me that while some of us cannot do a particular thing, others can. So let us agree to take can't out of our vocabulary, and when necessary, use the word cannot.

One of the biggest dangers  of can't is that we remember it for far too long. It is similar to saying "I love you, but..." 

Certain words stick in a child's heart and mind for much longer than others. For one of our daughters, the word but is understood to mean that everything I previously said has no value, only what comes after the but. For other children they struggle with cannot, or another qualifying word. Let me try to explain...

When I was growing up I was told "You can't do that, that's not how it works." Also, "you can't do that, you have to do this instead." Or one of the most discouraging "You cannot make any money at that, go into another field." Oy vey! How many times as a child, teen, or young adult did I believe the lies of the word can't? Way too many! If only more of the adults in my life had been encouraging with their words, instead of discouraging, I might have made much different choices.

Looking back I can see where God has made something good out of the choices I made, but I often wonder if there might have been a little less pain involved while learning the lessons I needed to learn if more of the adults in my life had pointed me to the God who CAN do all things, instead of focusing on the things I could or could not do on my own. I sincerely hope that I have learned enough of these lessons that I now choose my words carefully when speaking to our own daughters, and focus on what they may, can or should do, instead of what they cannot do on their own.

Can't was is the voices that told me I would never write for a newspaper again after high school Can't was in the message about which career paths to avoid. Can't was in the message that the only things available for me to do were in the activities the local public school offered. Can't told me to never take a picture straight into a mirror or a glass case. Can't told me I could be smart, but not liked. Can't told me that I had to settle for mediocrity or be ridiculed for using the brain God gave me. Can't told me that there was nothing to be done to bring joy to my life.

Can't is a liar.

God tells the truth, because He is truth.

Truth tells me that God has a plan for me to live an extraordinary life. God has blessed me with the opportunity to write a newspaper column every month for more than three years. God has blessed me with two co-mingled careers that allow me to serve and bless others. Truth reminds me to encourage my daughters to be just who God made then to be and to not hide their amazing brains just because it might make someone else feel uncomfortable. Truth shows me that there is a story worth telling in every single photo I take. Oh think of the stories I still have to tell!

Dear parent, there will be days when you need to tell your children they cannot do something, perhaps there is no money left in the budget, or they are too short for an amusement ride, or you have to be at work that day instead of on a field trip. Instead of filling their heads with a heavy burden of Can't's, choose instead to lovingly tell then that while they cannot do that activity today, you are sure that there is something even better that they can do soon. Then be on the lookout for God to reveal what they can, may and should do. Our words go from their ears to their brains and rest in their hearts. Fill then with daily reminders of what our amazing, loving God wants to do in and through them.

Speak the truth in love.

*I will be taking a break from this #parentingtruth series over the summer in order to bring you more fun road trip posts! Look for the #parentingtruths to return after Labor Day. In the meantime - let's get outdoors and explore!

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