Parents have been encouraged to have “the talk” with their kids for several generations now. But that isn’t the “talk” I’m writing about today. There is another important discussion that all parents need to have, but this “talk” is one you need to have with yourself too, especially before the next school year cranks up.
I’m reading a book by C. J. Mahaney right now titled Humility. I’m having to consume it slowly because it is one of those books that can’t be skimmed. The author has said several things that have been food for thought, but this statement made me pause my reading and write this article instead. I wish I had known to have this talk earlier in my life. But I’m glad I can share it with you now.
Mahaney wrote, “Take a moment to examine your pattern of thinking from yesterday. Did you spend more time speaking truth to yourself, or was most of your time spent listening to yourself?” He then gives a lot of examples of the kinds of things we say to ourselves that we would never say to another person. He suggests that, rather than listening to those thoughts, take the time to tell yourself the truth instead.
Why does this “talk” matter to you, not just as a person, but as a parent?
You can’t teach your kids what you haven’t learned yourself. Kids will say things to themselves that they have heard you say. What things do you say in the heat of the moment about your abilities and mistakes? Your appearance or your achievements? Develop a habit of listening carefully to those words for the next few months. It’s important because that is what your children think you really believe—about yourself and possibly about them. Learning to have this “talk” with yourself will change the way you parent. Most importantly, this will help your children change the way they talk to themselves as well.
So, what is the “talk” that every parent should have with themselves and their kids? It really boils down to one very biblical concept.
Make sure that whatever you say to yourself is truth from God’s perspective.
For everyone who struggles with low self-esteem or arrogance:
“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Romans 12:3).
We should always remind ourselves and our kids that if God is pleased and impressed with our lives, we are popular in all the ways that matter.
For everyone who never feels attractive or those who are conceited:
“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:3–4).
Parents and kids need to tell themselves that the quality of a person’s character matters more than the “cute” of our clothes. It isn’t wrong to want to be attractive unless the focus is more on our exterior appearance than our hearts and minds.
For everyone who feels like a failure, or a huge success:
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:6–8).
The biblical way to measure failure and success is not by looking around at all we have or have accomplished. Instead, we should look around at what we have given.
For every Christian who wonders if they are good enough for God or every unbeliever who thinks they are good enough without Jesus:
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
The biblical way to view all people’s worth is clear. God loved us enough to give us his Son, Jesus (John 3:16). Everyone is either a child of God or a prodigal whom God wishes would come home. We should be kind and respectful and honor the children of the King—and that begins by treating ourselves like his beloved child.
I used to tell my kids that they should never say anything to themselves or each other that they wouldn’t say to their best friend. Yet, what things do we say that our kids hear and believe as truth?
Listen for the next few months to the words you say about yourself. Analyze your thoughts about yourself and others. Are you thinking and speaking biblical truth? If not, believe what God has said instead. If you will think truth, then you will speak truth. Your self-esteem, and the self-esteem you are teaching your kids to have, should be based on biblical truth.
Quick question: What did you just think about when you read this article? Were your thoughts truth?
Take time to have the “talk” with yourself. Then, you can have it with your kids as well.