When you're a mom, every word counts

May 12, 2006|by LISA PREJEAN

Mother's Day is a time when mothers are honored for the love they give and the sacrifices they make. A dinner out, flowers, a box of candy all are welcomed gestures. As we mothers thank those who honor us on Sunday, we should take time to reflect.

Who are we? What are our goals? Where do we want to be? With whom do we want to share our time? What do we want our children to learn from us? How do we want to be remembered?

We know our children will follow in our footsteps. They mimic our actions and hang on to our words.

If we're not careful, we can send the wrong message.

In honor of Mother's Day, here are my "five worst things you can say to your children" and "five best things you can say to your children."

Perhaps you can think of others. If so, e-mail me. I'd love to hear from you.


The worst things you can say to your children

"Welcome to my world."

Each time I hear someone say this, I cringe. In essence, the speaker is saying, "You don't have it nearly as difficult as I do. I don't care about your discomfort because I am too wrapped up in my own." This teaches children that they don't have to care about the needs of others.

"Why do you always ...."

The word "always" means "at all times." Rarely is there a situation or behavior for which there are no exceptions. A child who hears this phrase often learns to overreact and exaggerate.

"Why can't you be more like ...."

Comparisons are never a good thing when it comes to personality, talents or appearance. Asking a child to be like someone else sends a message that he is substandard and must change in order to be loved.

"Shut up!"

This not only sends the message that quiet is desired, it also makes a child feel unwanted and demeaned. It teaches children that it is OK to be disrespectful to the people we love.

"It doesn't matter."

If a child is telling you something, it matters to her. Listen to her little concerns now, and one day she will share things that really do matter. You won't want your mind to be in neutral then.

The best things you can say to your children

"What's this word?"

If a parent is asking this question, it usually means the parent and child are reading together. Not only is this vital for the child's academic development, shared reading time is one of the best ways for a parent and a child to connect.

"Did you practice?"

This one can apply to sports, music or any other activity in which your child is involved. Practice might not make perfect, but it does improve performance and make the overall experience richer. Children need to learn that hard work is beneficial.

"What should I quiz you on tonight?"

Yes, it is our responsibility to know what our children are learning and to help them master this knowledge at home. Concepts are introduced at school. They should be practiced at school and home.

"Keep it up."

Your child will experience his share of disappointment in life. Be a faithful cheerleader.

"I love you."

This one can't be said often enough, and your child will never be too old to hear those words from your lips. Make them a part of Mother's Day and every day.

Have a truly wonderful day, Moms. Remember, every word counts.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page.

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