“Wow, you’ve got your hands full.”
It’s a comment most parents have heard at some point or other. But, do we enjoy hearing it (again and again)? Most strangers probably don’t mean anything derogatory by it; in fact, they are most likely heartened at the sight of lively, active children. Yet, comments like that and others like it (“they keep you busy!”) don’t really leave parents feeling encouraged. They just leave us, well, flat.
Anytime we walk past someone trying to corral their kids down the sidewalk or line up behind a family with three busy children in the grocery store, we can resonate with them. Our gut instinct tells us to help in some way, or at least to empathize. Can we offer a kind, encouraging word without falling prey to the typical “small-talk” parenting comments and without coming on too strongly?
King Solomon understood the power of a few kind words. Proverbs 16:24 says: “gracious words are a honeycomb; sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Words can go a long way. As parents, we’re frequently told how tough our job is and how busy we must be and how tired we look. But honey is better!
Here are a few sweet comments.
“You have such a beautiful family.”
“You are doing a great job.”
“Your children are blessed to have you as their parent.”
“That was such a great way to communicate with your kids.”
“Your family is so well-behaved.”
“You’re a great role-model for your children.”
These are just a few examples. There are plenty of other helpful, encouraging, appropriate, and kind compliments to offer. And there are times when no words may be best, too (jutting in right in the middle of a discipline session wouldn’t be good timing). But parenting truly is tough, and receiving some kind words truly does wonders for our mental stamina (sweet to the soul) and physical well-being (healing to the bones).
The next time you find yourself alongside a frantic or stressed parent, know that thoughtful words may do a lot of good. Resist the urge to share a “common” parenting phrase and offer some sincere, encouraging words. They are sweet!