I enjoy spending what little free moments I have throughout the day perusing Pinterest, discovering how I should be doing my life better. Pinterest knows it all. But lately it seems like I keep finding all of these articles about what you shouldn’t say to your kid. And not obvious things you’d think, like using graphic descriptions of where babies come from, swearing at your kids, talking about how tornadoes can fall from the clouds when it storms, how everyone is going to die someday, and that if you completely seal off the toilet seat when you sit on it your intestines will be sucked out when you flush (thanks dad). I’m talking about articles that explain why you shouldn’t tell your kid “good job” because it can [allegedly]damage their psyche.

While perusing one night, I stumbled upon one such article entitled “5 Things You Tell Your Kid (But You Probably Shouldn’t)”. I thought it would be something like, “you shouldn’t talk about your personal finances around your kid” and that kind of thing, but again, it was suggesting we stop telling our kid that they’re awesome at whatever particular activity, stop telling them to stop crying, stop telling them that they’re okay when they get hurt, stop telling them to say “sorry”, etc. You know, all things I say multiple times a day, sometimes even to myself, ahem. I was flabbergasted. (Look it up and read the author’s rationale for each point. You might completely agree with her.)

It’s hard enough knowing what to say in the middle of a situation when tensions are running high and the juice boxes are running low without having to second-guess every word that comes out of our mouths. We started watching Daniel Tiger around the time my son turned one (yah yah yah, no screen time till they’re 2, blah blah blah, I know — do the members of the APA have children?) and as pathetic as it sounds, I learned so much about what to say to say to him in various circumstances. Mom Tiger is quite the mentor to young moms.
    “When you’re feeling frustrated, take a step back, and ask for help…”
    “You can take a turn, and then I’ll get it back…”
    “When you’re sick, rest is best, rest is best…”
    “Say ‘I’m sorry’ is the first step, then ‘how can I help?’”

I’m pretty sure Mom Tiger wouldn’t spazz out if she told Daniel he was so creative. Too many kids these days don’t know what their giftings are because they’ve not had anyone point out their natural abilities and help them develop them. So excuse me if I think it’s okay to tell my son that he’s a good runner or a good singer. There will always be people who are better than him at those things, and that’s fine — we’ll talk about that when the time comes and about how practicing enhances our natural abilities. If having told him he’s good at something is what damages his psyche, then I have a larger problem on my hands.

And all parents understand that new world you enter when you yell “crap” out of frustration or call someone a “freaking idiot” while you’re driving (tell me I’m not the only one…) and you realize it’s in the presence of the impressionable, parroting little people you created. I’ve had so many moments when I’ve been like, “Crap, dang it, freak, shoot, GOSH!”, tripping from one bad exclamation to another in search of something less PG-13 to use around my kids. If I don’t want it coming out of their mouths, it doesn’t need to come out of my mouth, but it can be a challenge to reprogram yourself if you’ve not been aware of your language before! Fortunately, if you slip up that can be a great [and vulnerable, humbling]moment where you talk to your kids about how mommies and daddies make mistakes too, and how sometimes we need to say sorry as well. Not to mention tying in the Scriptural lessons of “…for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45, ESV).

Engage in real conversations with your kids. That’ll leave way more of a lasting impact on them then a canned, insincere, or insecure response. Say what comes naturally — Pinterest doesn’t know your kids or the situations you deal with (gasp!). Tell them good job, awesome job…shoot…tell them they’re freaking fabulously fantastic! Don’t drive yourself nuts trying to be the perfect parent. Not everything you do will warp your kids. Take advantage of the learning moments you’re presented with throughout your day to coach your kids, but don’t put so much emphasis on whether you’re saying the right or the wrong words.

Can we all agree that we need to just calm the crap…I mean, the crud down a bit? 🙂