When Words Are Harsh

Always thankful when Brad shares his words here…


Since the day the Lord blessed us with four baby boys, I feel like I have been on a parenting crash course.  There is no class each year to prepare you for the next phase of parenting, you know?  Have you ever woke up one morning and said, “Wait a minute, this parenting thing isn’t going so well right now, what happened?”

A while back, Jen and I were noticing that our children were not speaking kindly to one another.  Sometimes, they were being flat out hateful in their speech and actions.  Angry words, kicks, slaps, and screaming ARE NOT fruits of the spirit last time I checked.  We would sit down with them and have long talks about how the Lord expected them to treat one another.

No matter how many times we shared this Bible verse with them, it didn’t seem to carry any lasting impact.

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

So, I asked myself a few questions:
Am I demonstrating the things I am teaching?  Are the commands I am giving my children reasonable?  Am I treating them how I would want to be treated?  When you fly by the seat of your pants in parenting, you tend to react harshly rather than reasonably.

I suddenly realized that my own actions were probably at fault.  When I had asked them for the 5th time to do something, I was becoming irritated and spoke harshly to them.  Our God, in his infinite wisdom, was trying to give me the answer to our problem in the very verse I had been teaching my children.  Was it possible that my harsh words were stirring up the anger in our home?

The answer was yes.

I committed to keep a kind tone {“a soft answer“} when I rebuked my kids, and to actually lower my tone a bit to remind myself to maintain self-control.  I still disciplined and reproved them for their failure to obey, but I did so firmly in a kind and calm voice.  It’s amazing, they have been so much more sorry for their disobedience, and they reacted more often in sadness than anger to my rebukes. (Important: These results were not immediate, but after several days of practicing a softer tone.)

Sometimes doing this took great patience, and at times I have failed to maintain control.  The first few times, they continued to get angry at my rebukes. However, as I consistently remained calm, I saw a miraculous change in them.  They are calmer, kinder, and more willing to take a rebuke than ever.

We want to remember that our kids are human too, and while they MUST obey us as parents because the Lord says so, they are still primarily Gods children who are made in God’s likeness.  He has given them to us as a gift, but they are his children.  They deserve to be treated with respect and kindness.  Too often in the past I have treated them with such disdain in my speech.

Today is a new day, let us give our children every opportunity to please their Lord.

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Colossians 3:20

Have you ever, like me, suddenly realized it was your own problem manifesting itself in your kids?  Tell us about it in the comments. ~Brad


3 thoughts on "When Words Are Harsh"

  1. AC says:

    Yes, most definitely. Like you, I discovered this and decided to change my approach. It made a world of difference. I still struggle from time to time keeping my cool, but it has made a difference, particularly in our youngest son. He responds so much better to soft kind words, although he definitely still has his moments.

  2. Ang says:

    Wow! I needed to read this today. I see it in my four children (13,11,10,6) and realize it’s because of my own “tone”…thanks for sharing! I’m grateful God uses “strangers” to keep us in the right. 🙂

  3. Amy says:

    Not an accident I am reading this! Well written! Immediately an incident from this past weekend comes to mind. Will pass this on to husband to read because when we answer our kids harshly we feel terrible too! Thanks for the post. I cannot wait to share it. Tone is everything!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *