For the past month it seems our three children have fallen into a very bad habit of fighting, griping, nit-picking and generally speaking to each other in very rude ways. It has become an almost daily occurrence for one, two or all three of them to be in serious trouble for the way they have chosen to speak to their brother or sister. Last night was the last straw. I had told all three of the children to work together as a team to wash and put away the dinner dishes. I told them I did not want to hear any arguing.
Unfortunately, five minutes into the task, my son was heard grumbling under his breath rather rudely to his older sister who was trying to explain to him that he had not fully washed a dish and it needed to go back into the dish water.
After sending him to his room, along with grounding him from his PSP privileges for a week, I turned to a Google search to help find some scriptures that could better illustrate how wrong it is to constantly tear each other down with words spoken in anger. I know this is a common problem for many families, so I thought it would be helpful to share the ones we've decided to use in our home:
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret it leads only to the evil (Ps. 37:8)
A wise man fears for the Lord and shuns evil, but a fool is hot headed and reckless. A quick-tempered man does foolish things, and a crafty man is hated (Pr 14:16-17)
A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control (Pr. 29:11)
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Pr. 15:1)
Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. (Pr. 21:23)
Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out (Pr. 17:14)
It is to a man's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel (Pr. 20:3)
Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful (2 Tim. 2:23-24)
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Eph. 4:31)
Do everything without complaining or arguing (Ph. 2:14)
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother which is the first commandment with a promise that it may go well with your and that you may enjoy long life on the earth (Eph. 6:1-3)
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord (Col. 3:20)
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it (Heb. 12:11)
My son and I discussed these verses and we talked about what it means to be pleasing to God and how important it is to be very careful with the way we speak to each other. It is a hard lesson to learn not just for a child, but for anyone. Today during our lessons we talked as a family about these scriptures and we assigned Proverbs 21:23 Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. as our memory verse for the week. My children have a weekly verse to memorize by Friday or they will not be able to play on the computer or the Wii on Saturday. In addition to his grounding, my son will have to choose three of the above listed verses to memorize as well.
Of course, after laying out the punishment and the tears from my son, I myself cried. Parenting is not for the faint-hearted, and as a weaker vessel I do tend to leak quite often around the eyes. But I am praying these verses will take seed in my children's hearts (and my own) and help us to cultivate a more pleasant way of speaking to each other.