Whatchoo Talkin’ ‘Bout?
It occurred to me that perhaps I needed to clarify what I meant when I talk about raising children to be honoring in their speech. This is probably old hat to all of you, but just to make certain we’re all on the same page, I wanted to explain exactly what that means at our house.
At our house, dishonoring speech is the term that we use for any form of communication – both verbal and non – that does not match up with the Scriptural principle of considering others more important than yourself.
This means – whining, arguing, complaining, pestering and nagging are all dishonoring. Lying is a given, as is yelling. Having a cutting or harsh tone is dishonoring. Using terminology that would manipulate someone into doing what you want is not an honoring way of communicating. Rolling eyes, heaving sighs and or stomping feet are all covered by dishonoring speech. Interrupting – something that Clarks do in SPADES and are taking on as a major battle this year – is dishonoring. Making a joke at someone else’s expense is not honoring. (With the qualifier, if they find it funny as well, it could be okay.) Making a joke that is crude or offensive to anyone who is listening, is dishonoring. Gossip, as well as the Biblical definition of slander qualifies.
Being willing to speak (kindly), even when one is angry is honoring. Speaking truthfully, yet kindly, of woundedness received at the hand of a family member is, as well. “Please,” “thank you” and “excuse me” are considered not only honoring, but essential. Complimenting the cook for the meal they have just served, is a way to consider the other person more important than yourself. Commenting that you don’t like the food that is being served, is not. (A “Blech!” will get you a second helping) Asking to be excused from the dinner table is honoring.
Answering the phone with a smile on your face is honoring. Saying good-bye (or bye-bye, if you’re talking to me) when you’re done is honoring. Not yelling into the phone when calling someone else to the phone is honoring. Burping in the phone is not. Addressing an adult with Mr or Mrs until otherwise released by said adult is honoring. Continuing to address them as Mr or Mrs when they’ve told you they don’t like that is not.
As I write this, it just seems like the list goes on forever – but you see, when it all comes down to it, the issue is the heart attitude of the speaker. When #1 son was small, I brought breakfast out to him and set it before him. He took one look at it and said, “THIS is NOT what I ordered.” Whooosh….without so much as another word, it was gone. However, last week when I brought out some breakfast to the table, he, no longer being small, I might add, looked at breakfast and said, “Mom, I really don’t like eggs, would it be alright if I made something else, please?” To which I agreed.
He didn’t refuse to eat it. I know if I would have said, (and I know this because I have said it before) “No, I’m sorry Son, this is what I have planned for breakfast. I’m really sorry you don’t like it, please eat it.” I know he would have done so, without complaining. By my above list, this would qualify as dishonoring, as he is telling me he doesn’t like the food before him. Yet, because our goal as parents is to address the heart attitude, it did not.
As a general rule, arguing, complaining and whining will always be considered dishonoring. I have yet to run into a heart attitude that could allow for any of those and still be honoring. A distracted child who doesn’t answer when called, under the law that we disciplined with before, would have qualified for discipline – but under grace, does not. (We DO discuss the need to be attentive, with ears that are straining to hear the voice of our Lord – and therefore our parents – but no discipline is administered….unless it becomes a habit.)
What about your house? What kinds of things are considered dishonoring at your house? Do you find it easier or harder to discern the difference between the law and grace when it comes to speech patterns? Are you aware of your family’s weakest communication area/s?
Now, lest I give the impression in this post that we’ve attained to speech perfection, Jeff and I were at a meeting tonight that resulted in my needing to step outside and take a call regarding the speech behavior of our children. Furthermore, one of us (Jeff and I) pointed out to the other, while on the way to said meeting, that the way they addressed the children before leaving was not honoring. So, you see, we have perfected dishonoring speech. Maybe that’s why I can identify it so easily. 🙄