I mentioned in my Few Favorites Friday that I loved reading "The Help". One of my favorite characters was, Aibileen, a wise and patient woman. In the book, she is responsible for taking care of a little girl, Mae Mobley. This little girl's mother, Miss Elizabeth is not very interested in fulfilling her role as a mom. She runs errands, talks on the phone, works on sewing projects, entertains her friends...whatever she can do to avoid caring for her daughter (a character I could, unfortunately, relate to a little bit).
Once in the book Aibileen asks Mae Mobley: "How come you not in there with your mama?" Aibileen then thinks to herself, "I know why. She rather be setting out here with the help than in there watching her mama look anywhere but at her. She like one a them baby chickens that get confused and follow the ducks around instead."
When her mom realizes that Mae Mobley is not in the kitchen with her she storms outside and says, "I told you to eat in your high chair, Mae Mobley. How I ended up with you when all my friends have angels I just do not know..." A perfect example of how our uncontrolled tongues can reveal our pride and self-centeredness.
photo credit: thehelpmovie.com
Aibileen notices how these harsh, critical words wound the sweet little girl and she asks her if she's alright. Mae Mobley says, "Mae Mo bad." Aibileen thinks, "The way she said it, like it's a fact, make my insides hurt." So she decides to use words of encouragement. She asks Mae Mobley, "You a smart girl?" She just looks at Aibileen like she doesn't know if she is. So Aibileen says it as fact, "You a smart girl." She responds with, "Mae Mo Smart." Then Aibileen comes up with a wise plan:
"What would happen if I told her something good, every day?"
What would happen if I told my boys at least once a day, if not several times a day, something good about their character, their talents, etc. Instead of reminding them that they are "crazy", "wild", "hurtful"...
What would happen?
Perhaps they would grow up to be men who are confident in themselves. Who seek to encourage others. Who are free to love because they have been loved. Who know who they truly are and do not have to believe the lies of others.
photo credit: buzz focus
There is another section of the book where the main character, Skeeter, is telling her nanny, Constantine, that a mean boy had called her ugly. Constantine responds with, "Well? Is You?... Ugly live up on the inside. Ugly be a hurtful, mean person. Is you one a them peoples?" Skeeter responds with, "I don't know. I don't think so." Constantine provides a profound statement, "Ever morning, until you dead in the ground, you gone have to make this decision. You gone have to ask yourself, Am I gone believe what them fools say about me today?"
As moms we have the opportunity to be the voice of encouragement to our children, to speak life into their souls. The world is going to try to tear them down with words. If we build a strong enough tower of defense through our positive words then when someone says, "you are dumb!", he/she can confidently say, "no I'm not!".
What words of encouragement do you give to your children? What qualities do you encourage with words?