Here’s What Really Determines The Quality Of Your Parenting

Date: August 3, 2020

Speaker: Bonnie Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living | “The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart….” (Matthew 18:15).

A husband picked up a call from his wife.  “Michael got his first tooth and took his first step!” she excitedly told him.  “That’s so great!” he answered. “No, there’s more,” continued the wife. “He also had his first fall and cut his lip, and when he did, he said his first bad word!”

Without thinking too hard about where Michael heard that first “bad word,” we may smile at that humor, but there is really nothing funny about the situation which a Guidelines’ listener described, who wrote the following:  “I am experiencing a terrible, terrible temper.  I can get very violent and I do curse and yell very loudly.  What makes this behavior even worse is that I have a two-year-old who now says curse words, and a month-old baby who will learn them if I can’t stop this behavior.”

Out of the mouths of babes may come words that shock, words which innocent children neither understand nor mean.  By our examples, we, parents, are the greatest teachers of our children.  But it is both unfair and difficult for a parent to discipline a child for using words which he learned from the vocabulary of the parent.

Dorothy Law Nolte said it so clearly:  “If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn. If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.  If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.  If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty.  If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.  If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence.  If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate.  If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.  If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.  If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.  If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, he learns to find love in the world.”[1]

We may condemn our schools for failing to keep kids safe or to provide a wholesome environment for learning.  We may condemn the media for a steady diet of values we do not share.  But the real failure which confronts children today is the failure of parents to model godly lives and provide examples for children to follow in living out a life in relationship with God.

Yes, there is the crush of the stress and frustration of life, especially for the single parent who is pressed by inadequate finances, weary and lonely from going it alone.  But the real problem confronting our children today is our problem.  It is us.  When we parents live out what we say we believe, our kids are more secure.  When we learn to discipline ourselves, our children require less discipline.  When we learn how to make peace with the circumstances of our lives, our children learn to cope with the frustrations that surround them.

When Jesus talked about the issues of life, He always spoke of the heart.  He stressed the fact that what we say and what we do are an extension of what we think in our hearts.  In doing verbal combat with His detractors who wanted to observe the legalism of washing their hands when their hearts were impure, Jesus said, “The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart….  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.  These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean'” (Matthew 15:18-20).

If you, as a parent, are struggling with your own personal life, get help in coping with the pressures which confront you.  Remember, it is the heart, not the mouth, that is the real issue.

Resource reading:  Matthew 15:10-20

[1] Excerpted from, McCall, Catherine. “Children Learn What They Live.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, December 30, 2011.