“Mom, we need those band aids!” My four-year-old daughter rushed to the kitchen where I stood chopping lettuce for dinner.
“We need what?” I crinkled my eyebrows.
“Those band aids! On the TV! They’re waterproof, Mom. Waterproof!”
“Oh,” I nodded, “I see. You heard about these band aids on TV, huh?”
“Yes! We need them. Protection from germs, water and dirt. Always on the go!”
Yikes. In our house, we limit television to channels with kid-safe commercials, but lately I’m skeptical there is such a thing. My children can hear a message once and believe it’s true. Worse, they can recite it word-for-word and remember it. I’ve been told we must buy spill-proof snack cups, a Shark steam cleaner, something called Teddy Tanks and—my personal favorite—a home waxing kit “because then you don’t have to shave your legs, Mom! Less time in the shower, and smoother, silkier legs! You need that!”
This makes me wonder. What else are my children picking up with their eyes and ears, which sticks to their little heads like New! Super minty Bubble Ice gum—now in your local candy aisle!
Do they catch when I snap at their dad for leaving his socks on the floor?
Or the unmerciful words I mutter at pokey drivers in traffic.
How about venting to my husband about what an exhausting day I’ve had with these kids.
And those self-critical comments I let slip about my unruly hair or tummy flab—what does that teach my kids about true beauty?
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).
If a child’s mind is absorbent as a sponge, then I want to fill it with words that teach, edify and encourage. Words that define my children according to God’s point of view—which is the only real truth in a world dominated by ad copy.
You are smart.
You are brave.
God made you beautiful.
He is always with you.
Thank you—for using your manners, for sharing with your sister, for forgiving my outburst, for just being you.
Jesus loves you so, so much. No matter what, he will not take his love away. And neither will I.
So while that home waxing kit is awfully tempting, I think I’ll stick with what I know. Bic razors, the word of God, and commercial-free PBS Kids. Better yet, it might be time to switch to Netflix.
This reminds me of “The Help” when the nanny (can’t remember her name in the movie) always repeated to the little girl, “You is smart, you is kind, you is important!” Those words and the words you’ve mentioned have such a powerful impact on a child’s emerging and tender identity, Becky. And when it comes from their parent’s mouths, well, it’s like super-charged security juice being poured down on their heads! As always, I’m blessed and encouraged when I get to stop by your place, my friend!
Thanks so much for stopping by, Beth! Super-charged security juice… I love it!
Lisa Littlewood says
Great post Becky! With the ears of three little girls listening in our home I feel this burden and accountability to watch what I say and how I’m saying it. I love how you mention those off hand self-depreciating comments we can make about our own bodies or silly things like our husband’s socks….so very true that they are listening and that we need to watch what comes from our mouths!
Indeed, Lisa… I am trying to be more aware of what I say in casual conversation that creeps into their ears and minds. If I don’t want them to repeat it, then why am I saying it??
Julie V. SomebodysDinner says
You’re right. I had an niece that was very adept at repeating whatever she heard.
Sometimes she came home from kindergarten, which went from 9-12 snd would say, (obviously repeating her teacher) “If they were hungry, you should have eaten at home.” I know exactly what her kindergarten teacher told kids when they said they were hungry during class 🙂
While I took care of her, i did try to limit TV time, but I found it could really help to pay attention to shows and movies so right after the show we could discuss it a bit.
Take for example the witch, Ursula. She tells Ariel that men like a silent woman, “it’s she who holds her tongue who gets her man. . . And don’t underestimate the importance of body language.”
See how, even from a villain’s lips, that can be very confusing and terrible?