I had a very wise man say to me one time,
“When your child comes to you in crisis, they will always remember the first words you speak.”
I have never forgotten those words. My husband and I have both been very cognizant of the moment when our boys have had to tell us bad news, or a mistake they made. We want to always err on the side of love when it comes to our kids. When we don’t know what to say we just speak love until we find an answer together. Words are very important. They can speak life into a situation or they can speak death.
My friend who spoke those words to me was explaining the moment his unmarried daughter came to him with the news of her pregnancy. He knew whatever words spoken first would be what she always remembered. He could have completely broken down the relationship with harsh words, or he could become her hero, all in those first few seconds. He easily became her hero, and she turned to him throughout her pregnancy. He loved her during that difficult time in her life, assuring her life was going to work out just fine. Because of that love and acceptance he may have easily saved his own grandchild’s life.
Becoming the hero is not always the goal in some households. Take my friend for instance who got pregnant at 22, was unmarried, and making some pretty bad choices for her life in those days. When she told her father of the pregnancy he said three things to her that she will never forget…we can learn many things from this father’s response.
1. “You are an embarrassment to me.”
Now I don’t know about you, but even on my best day I would not want anyone saying these hurtful words to me, much less a parent! At the moment she needed to feel loved and accepted by the one person who was supposed to be her hero; he turned against her for the mistake she had made. I’m not glossing over her actions, but there she was, trying to make a good decision finally after years of poor choices, and it wasn’t recognized. She may have very well been an embarrassment to him, but how much of a difference could he have made in her life with a positive remark instead of further degrading her?
2. “I don’t want you at my church because I’m so embarrassed.”
If you are like me, your mouth is hanging open. I can’t believe a parent would say these words either. My friend wasn’t breaking down the doors of any church in those days, but at this point she sure wasn’t going to now. To hear her tell the story, she felt so dirty and it backed up the lie in her head that even God didn’t want her. At a point in her life when the doors of the church, and back to God, could have been flung open for her return to Him, they were sealed tighter than ever by these painful words. Don’t ever send the message that your child has to “straighten up” before he or she is welcome in God’s house.
3. “You are no longer my daughter.”
There is never a time in a child’s life when they should hear these words. Our kids deal with so many mixed messages in society, their family should be the one place they can always turn to no matter what. Our kids have to know that as parents they hurt us with their mistakes at times, but not one action they ever take can make us love them less. My friend was shown conditional love. That statement told her as long as she stayed in step, met her father’s expectations, then she will still be able to receive love from him. What message did these words send this young girl about God’s love? A father has a great responsibility to model God’s unconditional love to his children.
These 3 statements may never cross your lips. Your heart may be hurting for this young girl too, thinking about what kind of parent would speak these words. Allow your mind to think about where you may be showing conditional love to your child; or wanting him/her to hurt like they hurt you; or saying those things that hurt instead of heal your child’s perceptions of God.
We have to lay the groundwork before the crisis to make sure our child turns to us at that moment. In the case of an unplanned pregnancy, how many of our sons and daughters have had abortions because they know, “my dad would kill me” or “it would crush my mother to know I did this”. So our children are continuing on in the mistake by choosing abortion, instead of knowing they can turn to a parent who will be their hero in that moment of crisis.
Don’t wait for your child’s crisis and respond out of hurt and anger like this father did. Start today being the hero in your child’s life. You just may be saving the life of a future grandchild in the process.
Do you have an example of the first words spoken to you in crisis; good or bad? Are they words you have always remembered? Comment below with your example and how you responded to it. You just may help others along the way.