Robins sauntered on the lawn, and I couldn’t wait to get the kids outside for the first warm day in months. Our tender-hearted six-year-old had a rare Monday without school, and she was excited for different reasons. She had plans to create a kingdom of make-believe characters and play in her pajamas until at least noon.

When I suggested we head outside to enjoy the sunshine, she clenched her fists and simply refused. “It’s not a choice,” I declared. “We are going outside.” My two-year-old back-up stood behind me and nodded his little head in agreement with his mama. He had plans that included chasing the robins until on the lawn and throwing sticks in the creek with his sister.

The argument lasted longer than it should have. I finally threatened to take away computer time, and she consented to join us outside, but it came at the cost of an enormous emotional breakdown. I was exasperated.

“I was so looking forward to this day at home together! And now . . .” I caught myself before the words slipped out. But it was too late. She knew what I was going to say, and she collapsed onto the floor, wailing.

I chided myself for not biting my tongue and gathered her in my arms. “I’m so sorry, honey,” I said. “I got frustrated, and I didn’t mean what I was going to say. I absolutely love spending time with you.”

She forgave me, and we managed to redeem the day. But the whole mess got me thinking about the words I use with my kids. Too often, my words are frustrated and exasperated. What if I only spoke words that breathe life into my kids? From that day forward, I committed to regularly build my kids up as often as possible. Here are 25 of my favorite life-giving phrases to speak to them:

  1. I enjoy you so much.
  2. I love you, just because you’re mine.
  3. This mistake doesn’t define you.
  4. I’m so proud of how hard you’re working on this.
  5. I believe in you.
  6. I’m not disappointed in you. We all mess up.
  7. I’m so sorry.
  8. You are such a precious gift to me.
  9. I never imagined I’d have so much fun being your parent.
  10. Nothing will ever take my love away from you.
  11. You can do this.
  12. Thank you for your kindness.
  13. Let’s go on a date.
  14. I’ve got your back.
  15. We’re in this together.
  16. I don’t love you less when you make a mistake.
  17. I believe you can overcome this.
  18. I trust you.
  19. I will give you a second chance.
  20. Don’t let the brokenness of others break you.
  21. I know I don’t understand, but I see that you’re hurting.
  22. How can I help you through this?
  23. What can I do to make this easier?
  24. Your honesty is such a gift to me.
  25. You have nothing to prove.

The world speaks countless lies into the lives of our kids. The world tells them they’re defined by their success, popularity, talents, and productivity. They fear their failures might just define them, and they walk in a deep kind of shame that tells them to erect false walls and wear masks. They build their identities on shifting sands, and when the success wears off, the popularity wanes, and the talent doesn’t measure up in the big leagues, they’re completely shaken.

We hold the power to speak life-giving truth into the hearts and minds of our kids. We hold the power to teach them that they are unconditionally loved and accepted. Let’s step into our ordained roles and be deliberate about speaking words that bring life.

Stacey Pardoe

Stacey Pardoe lives with her husband Darrell and two children in western Pennsylvania. In addition to being a wife and mother, she is a writer, mentor, and teacher. She is passionate about encouraging others to pursue their passions and make an impact in the culture. She enjoys hiking, camping, running, and spending time outside with her family.