Listen Here You Spoiled Little…

I was one of those people who waited in line at Honey Baked Ham the day before Thanksgiving. You’ve seen the line before, it funnels into the store after wrapping around the block. Then when you actually make it into the establishment, you switch-back-and-forth for 15 minutes to pick up your ham. Lengthy, yes. C’est la vie.

Photo credit: Saitor (Creative Commons)

After picking up the ham, we had to wait in yet another line to pay for it. While waiting something caught my ear — a well-dressed gentleman, maybe 40, speaking on his cell phone. My immediate thought, “Wow, he is laying out on one of his customers.” Cuss words were flying and the conversation we getting heated. He wasn’t terribly loud and demonstrative, but I’m certain that those nearby could hear his most of the things he was saying. What he said next broke my heart.

Listen here you spoiled little f***: if you don’t listen to me, I am going to take away your Xbox for a week.

I was appalled. Didn’t even know what to say. Possibly shame on me for not saying something, I don’t know. But in the end, I was floored. Who would speak that way to a child–let alone your own child? What sort of life do those words speak into this child’s life?

It got me thinking: what words do I use around my children? How do I speak life into these young, impressionable girls right now? Are they being edified by the things I say?

Most of the time, I would say so. But there are moments of frustration that cause me to overheat a little. Those moments need to be brought before the Lord and counter-balanced with forgiveness, healing and, in the end–life-giving speech toward one another.

::

Have you ever been convicted by the words you’ve said?
What can you do to speak life into your child’s life?

31 Comments

  • Jim F

    December 7, 2011

    Man – that was rough to hear for sure.

    As far as your questions – I have many times been convicted when I have spoken out of anger.

    Funny thing – I was just texting my 16 year old to let her know I love her and believe in her – she is having a rough week with two major assignments due. Those are the sort of things I try to do with my kids – speak positive words of affirmation into their lives.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      December 9, 2011

      A quick text saying that you believe in your daughter is huge. Even the small things, tiny affirmations, go a long way. Thanks for sharing, Jim.

      Reply
  • Arny

    December 7, 2011

    Wow…uh…kinda speechless after that Dustin…

    I tuck my kids in to bed everynight…give them, “sqeeze” hugs (as my little 3 year old calls them)…

    Caleb says: i gotta tell you something….i love you too…

    i like to think we are doing something right…

    Reply
    • Dustin

      December 9, 2011

      When they tell you they love you, doesn’t that just make your day?

      Reply
    • kristinherdy

      December 9, 2011

      Wendy totally gives “squeezy” hugs, too. She’s really good at loving me and cutting off my oxygen supply, simultaneously

      Reply
  • bill (cycleguy)

    December 7, 2011

    Man, that hurts my heart. I can only imagine the kid on the other end and how he is cringing on the inside and curling into a ball emotionally. I have no doubt that is not your modus operandi Dustin. I have this sneaking suspicion your kids KNOW you love them in words and actions. But you do make a great point about our words.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      December 9, 2011

      Thanks for your affirmation Bill – I know what you mean about the child on the other end of the phone… Felt bad for sure.

      Reply
  • Tony J. Alicea

    December 7, 2011

    Yikes! That’s heart-breaking. And honestly, I don’t think anything you could have said would have been productive.

    It’s sobering to know how much power is in my words. Even more so to know that one day I’ll be raising my own little ones. I know I have to cultivate the habit of speaking life into people’s lives now because it won’t be something I can just “turn on” when I need it in my own family.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      December 9, 2011

      It’s amazing how a small word can speak volumes into someone’s life. And when you think about that person’s life being your own child… that much more important and valuable.

      Reply
  • Jason Vana

    December 7, 2011

    It amazes me how some people talk to their kids. I hear a lot of the same stuff here at work, when students bring their kids in for a meeting. It breaks my heart.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      December 9, 2011

      Sad I know- your perspective shows shows how it’s not just young kids, but that speaking into your child’s life is just as important as they are college-aged as well.

      Reply
  • Jon

    December 7, 2011

    Ugh…that makes me sad.

    There have definitely been moments where I’ve been convicted of my words. I know the power that words have, and do my best to speak life into others.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      December 9, 2011

      What about intentionally speaking into someone’s life? If we know that a word of affirmation will speak life/truth/etc, what happens if we don’t do it? (Believe me… I’m guilty as charged!)

      Reply
  • jbussell

    December 7, 2011

    Wow, I’m not sure I even know what to say about this. I overheard a guy talking horribly to his wife the other day at a Christmas tree lot. I thought (even tweeted) “I am amazed at how some guys talk to their wife. If they’ll do that in front of people…”

    There have been a few times I have been really convicted, not usually by what I say, but by the tone I used. Cooper often doesn’t want to go to sleep. One night after going back and forth with him I was getting pretty frustrated. After closing his door, he immediately called my name. I opened the door and frustratedly said “What?!?” His response: “Daddy I love you, good night.” I wanted to crawl under the bed. Lesson learned.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      December 9, 2011

      Ouch! I’ve had a few ‘lessons’ like those…. it’s easy to be humbled and reminded when you hear a small voice say that to you after you’ve been testy… :)

      Reply
  • Adam

    December 7, 2011

    There has been a few times when I had to ask my 6 yr old for forgiveness for how I have responded to her. And I remember have the discussion in my head and saying to myself.. “you can either just walk away from this… or you can do that right thing and apologize to your daughter”

    I try to do little special things with my girls through out the day. I may text my wife and the text will be for Madi.. or Ill email her specifically cause I know that she can read it now. its the little things ..

    Reply
    • Dustin

      December 9, 2011

      Oh man, asking for forgiveness = yes. I’ve had to do that plenty of times – and I think that sets the right example, as I want them to see that they aren’t perfect either and will need to ask for it. Thanks for sharing, Adam.

      Reply
  • Ally Garner

    December 7, 2011

    Gracious. Well I’m glad you didn’t confront that guy. That likely would’ve only sent him home to his son even angrier. I pray that was just one awful, isolated event. And I pray that he spent his Thanksgiving repenting for his abusive treatment towards his child and grateful God entrusted that precious little one to his care.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      December 9, 2011

      Me too – hate hearing stuff like that. I tend to have pretty thick skin–not many things get to me. But this happened, and I had to tell Jen about it later on. Ugh.

      Reply
  • Bryan Thompson

    December 7, 2011

    Dustin, I regret to say I have probably caught myself saying things I wished my daughters hadn’t heard from me. No, I haven’t cursed at them (or anyone else), but I have said things out of impatience to them and others. I have said negative things about someone in front of them. Not that I’m a negative person (I’m not.). But sometimes it takes hearing it from others to put things in perspective. Sounds like this was your moment. I want my kids to hear uplifting words from their dad and know it’s REAL, not just a facade. Thanks for this teaching moment, my friend.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      December 9, 2011

      Absolutely – our words need to be real, and not pretentious or out of obligation. I think that, in the end, when we’re transparent with our kids, they’ll grow so much more.

      Reply
  • Koach

    December 8, 2011

    I’m not advocating for the use of foul language under any circumstance, but the “child” he was talking to may well have been a 20 year old loser living in his basement. Oftentimes we only have one side of a story.

    Reply
    • Moe

      December 8, 2011

      That’s a great point. That changes my perspective in the situation. I’m not having no slacker, scratching his armpit playing Xbox all day when he should be getting a job.

      Reply
      • Dustin

        December 9, 2011

        True- thanks for the perspective, Koach. But still…. I can imagine those being tough words for even a 20 yo to swallow.

        And Moe? What’s wrong with scratching armpits!?

        Reply
  • Moe

    December 8, 2011

    Discipline is a big part of my parenting. Not the cuss at your child and unleash the wrath of Moe_NYC type of discipline. But, always, and I mean, always, I make it sure that they know I love them. Even if they have been reprimended, I’ll go to them and whisper in their ear, “I love you so much”. Love has to be the foundation in all things, even in discipline.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      December 9, 2011

      >>” Love has to be the foundation in all things, even in discipline.”

      Well said. We try and make it a point to say “I love you” even after the times we have to discipline our kids as well!

      Reply
  • Joseph

    December 8, 2011

    Have I ever been convicted by the words I’ve said? Two words… I’m human. That guy needs someone to show him some grace, right after they get done knocking his teeth out. Jk Jk… but seriously…

    I hope that I speak life in to my son’s life. I hope I never speak to him in any way like this.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      December 9, 2011

      Speak life, even now… even as an infant! :)

      Reply
  • kristinherdy

    December 9, 2011

    I’ve felt shamed when I replay something I’ve said to my children, especially in frustration, especially since I’m the reflection of their worth right now — what I say is what they think of themselves.

    I can only imagine if my heavenly father had said those things to me and I get another dose of shame. My goal, with God’s help is to speak living words to my daughters.

    Reply
  • Cindy Holman

    December 10, 2011

    Ouch. Powerful reminder how important every word is that comes out of our mouths! I have witnessed scenes similar to this and thought the same thing. First of all – how sad for them.

    Reply
  • rachelle

    December 28, 2011

    Wow. Upon reading this post, so many things flooded to my mind:

    i grew up in a home where my dad spoke like that to my brother and I. Fortunately, all my other family members spoke meaningful words into our lives. A lot has since changed, but I’m so thankful that at a young age I knew God wasn’t going to allow such words to really happen.

    I worked at Chuck E. Cheese during high school and college. An inner city Chuck E. Cheese, where most customers took the bus to get there. The things I saw and heard would break my heart. Because of this job, I learned what it truly was to pray for these children and parents that I didn’t know and begin to pray about my words towards other people.

    I once had to stand in line at Honey Baked Ham… only for my nanny to then find out how much I hated eating ham. The words that then flew out of her mouth weren’t as bad as that dad’s, but she wasn’t happy to find out that she’s buying this ham, standing in line, and her granddaughter hates ham.

    sorry for the long comment!

    Reply

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