Don’t trip over your tongue

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In preparation for our overseas move, our family traveled to Austin to visit with my aunt and uncle. 


The drive, equivalent to the time that it takes to get through med school, ended with two exhausted parents ready to escape close quarters as well as our own preschoolers


My Aunt Ruby had prepared a Texas BBQ and we lingered around the table afterwards, enjoying the company of the empty-nest couple. 


Hannah, 4, and Hilary, 2, had eaten nicely and been excused from the table, to play with the toys Aunt Ruby had prepared. 


At this point, I seized the opportunity to begin a very interesting story (emphasis mine – not my family’s).


In the middle of the elaboration, I heard Hilary ask me for something. 


In typical “the-story-must-go-on-Kandy-fashion”, I ignored her and just increased my volume a bit. She did the same. 


Evidently, my story wasn’t as captivating as Hilary’s increasing persistence. 


Finally, all noise ceased as my Uncle Lawrence interrupted loudly, “FOR PETE’S SAKE GET THE CHILD WHAT SHE WANTS!”


I had not been quick to hear, nor slow to speak.


I would love to tell you that this changed immediately, I was instantaneously filled with the Spirit of patience, and my childhood habit was forever broken.


However, I still struggle with this command:


But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” (James 1:19). 


I don’t have complete authority to speak to you on this issue, but I have learned a few valuable lessons that ring true.


  • As much as possible, listen when your children are speaking. 


Yes, I know.


I had a non-stop talker from age 2 to age 13. It wasn’t easy. 


Even the little “Right, Mama? Right? Right, Mama? Right? Isn’t that right?” needed to be addressed.


Keep reminding yourself that the longer you listen to them now, the more willing they may be to talk to you as teenagers. It’s definitely worth the ear.


  • Learn the value of dealing with the situation quickly, but with as few words possible until your emotions are under control. 


Putting your children into time-out and then slipping away to talk to the Lord is often your best mode of action. Getting alone for a moment gives you time to pray over your next move rather than creating a punishment you can’t enforce.


  • Especially as your children move into the teen years, hear the whole story before flying off the handle.


I learned this one in mid-air, quite the distance from the proverbial handle. Many situations aren’t as they appear. 


As I learned to ask more questions, I found that my teenagers usually hadn’t thought through the situation completely and many of the “crises’” never happened at all. My second child enjoyed this quieter Kandy more than my first. (Sorry, Hannah….)


Here is the great response Mark taught me: 


“If you need an immediate answer, the answer is no. If you can wait till I think about it more, you’ll have a better chance of getting what you want. Can you give me till _______?”


This is a win/win situation. As a parent, you have time to formulate the best option. As a child, they learn the value of patient perseverance.


Your turn.


What lessons has the Father taught you about being quick to hear and slow to speak?