How you talk about your family really does matter.One of the best things I’m involved in is a small group for dads. Around a dozen men meet weekly, juggling life and work and family, trying hard to do our very best, looking for a little support, accountability, and encouragement. In our group, honesty matters. We trust each other and it is important that we tell the truth, even when we don’t look so good. Most of the time, we find a helpful balance between giving encouragement and asking for help. But sometimes, if we’re not careful, it’s easy to fall into the trap of complaining, via one “You’ll never believe what my kid or wife did!” after another. The fact is, how you talk about your family really does matter.
Life can be challenging. But it’s a privilege to be a dad, even when things are difficult. We all tend to live and to lead our families as much in response to the ongoing narrative we craft as in response to what actually happens. How we think and what we say matters. Here are 6 reasons it matters how you talk to and about your family.
1. Positive talk helps build a positive family culture.
Are you an encourager, or someone who constantly sets yourself up for failure by being so negative? Positive thinking has a proven track record of being of benefit in business and education. Thinking positively can do nothing but help at home.
2. Self-fulfilling prophecies are real.
Any expectation we have, positive or negative, affects behavior and events to the extent that we can cause that expectation to be fulfilled.
3. Betrayal of confidence has no age limit.
Have you ever seen “over-sharing” on social media that makes you cringe? Just because they have a great story doesn’t mean we can ignore our children’s rights to privacy. When we talk our family down, we set our children or our wives up for failure.
4. Being harsh is ineffective.
Berating family members is an ineffective intervention. Rather than resulting in improved behavior, being harsh increases the likelihood that your relationship will deteriorate. How we talk to family matters.
5. Mutual encouragement works via building one another up.
Encouragement is associated with improved outcomes. This is true regardless of a child’s age. Plus, encouragement works with your spouse!
6. There is a time and a place.
We all need to have places where we can be honest and receive support regarding disturbing family issues. This is where counseling, faith-based support groups, and trusted confidants come in. But it’s important to put guardrails around those experiences and avoid creating a negative or hostile narrative that takes on a life of its own.
Sound off: How has being an encourager helped your family when things were tough?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “How do you describe our family to others?”