Four kinds of words that all parents should say to their children

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits (Proverbs 18:21, ESV).

How many adults still feel the sting of angry words they heard as children? And how many of us have said words we later regret? The tongue has the power to destroy. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21a). A few words can do vast damage. “So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire” (James 3:5)!

Yet the tongue also has the power to enrich and edify. Our words can build up and bless those we love. Consider the kinds of words that should flow from the mouths of Christ-followers.

1. Words of affection. Over and over in our homes, the words “I love you” should be spoken—from husband to wife, from wife to husband, from parents to children, from children to parents. Giving voice to our appreciation for those we love is a powerful way to encourage.

Read this: Three attitudes of a faithful parent 

2. Words of reconciliation. Our planet is home to zero perfect people. We are all fallen, not just in principle but also in practice. Those closest to us know our flaws most clearly. Thus we can’t fail to say these life-giving words: “I’m sorry. I was wrong. Please forgive me.”

3. Words of vision. When we speak words of vision over our children, we give them a glimpse of how effective their lives can be. “You will do something great with your life,” and “God is going to use your life in a cool way,” and “You can make a difference in this world.” Words of vision build hope and confidence.

4. Words of security. Children in particular need to hear they are loved and accepted unconditionally—regardless of what they do. We speak truths over them that communicate their absolute belonging, such as “I love you always, always, always,” and “You will be mine forever!” With our words, we can imprint on our children’s hearts a sense of how God loves them.

Let’s not choose silence when our words can make an enriching difference. As Proverbs 3:27 nudges, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” Your words have power, so speak up!

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This post originally appeared on Dr. James MacDonald’s daily devotional Our Journey and was republished with permission. 

James MacDonald (D. Min. Phoenix Seminary) is the founding senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel, leads the church-planting ministry of Harvest Bible Fellowship, teaches the practical application of God’s Word on the Walk in the Word radio and television programs, and is a gifted author and speaker. You can find out more about James and his ministries at


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