It’s easy to forget the power and importance of words. Regretfully, I’m most often reminded of their effect after feeling remorseful over poorly chosen words. But words can have a deeply positive impact as well. As a relatively new father, I’m just beginning to see glimpses of the effect my words and demeanor have, and will continue to have, on my 16-month-old son. How I long to be more intentional about the words and phrases I use with him.
That’s why I’m thankful to have read Words Kids Need to Hear: To Help Them Be Who God Made Them to Be (Zondervan, 2008) by David Staal. Staal packs this concise book with seven statements he believes are important to share with children and teens alike. Going beyond an explanation of why they’re important for kids to hear, he explores different ways to say them and the importance of backing those words and phrases with our everyday actions. As a children’s ministry director at Willow Creek Community Church, Staal is able to reference many helpful examples from the lives of families at his church. He also shares his own trials and triumphs in regards to sharing these statements with his own children.
It’s not as though these seven statements are new, formerly-hidden-to-parents, catch-phrases. Rather, Staal reminds us that deliberately using these words will help children realize, in healthy and biblical ways, their value, self-worth and the importance of boundaries as they learn to view themselves as not only our children, but as a child of God. Though using these words with younger children is important, let’s remember that our teens, regardless of whether they’ve heard us say them before or not, also need to be shaped by these significant words.
-- Chris Wagner