Choosing Words Wisely

November 1, 2012

By Delaram Hakiman-Adyani

Being a Baha’i has helped me focus on the spiritual education of my children as well as their academic education.

My challenge started when my children started spending more time outside the home with their school friends and neighbors. The challenge was their use of words such as “I don’t care” and “idiot” all the time! The language they used with each other while playing was not always caring and kind.

At first I tried to get between them, interrupting their game, interjecting my views about their language and name calling. But this was not helpful. Instead it just escalated the situation. They did not enjoy nor care for my “speech” and I found little joy in being around them at these times.

Later I realized that they are in charge of their choice of words and eloquent speech. I stopped interfering when they were playing unless someone got upset or hurt. I would then explain that their words have great power – that they should think before speaking and choose their words carefully. I gave an example of what not caring looks like: not completing a task or being selfish. I also gave them other words to use in place of “I don’t care”. Things like: “I am flexible”, “That’s OK (or not OK) with me” or, “I am open to  possibilities”. I explained that “It doesn’t matter to me” is kinder than “I don’t care”.

I also made a house rule that we do not put each other down, that we are a caring family. There was also discussion about using clean language, and cleansing the air by apologizing and washing our mouths. It was a matter of expecting respect all the time, even when we are mad or upset. I modeled speaking this ‘language of the virtues’ as well, being careful not to criticize them as much.

Finally, I created some alone time for each child in order to give them a chance to think about their words and actions each day. I encouraged quiet reading, writing and drawing as well as journaling and expressing their  feelings through arts and music.

Today, I remember to focus on their positive qualities and not get so irritated by their choice of words. With a little reminder and forgiveness we can learn to get along and build a strong, caring family.

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