Saying Too Much?

A ‘Your Mother’s Guidance’ post by Rebecca Masinter

As mothers, we sometimes talk from morning till night, whether we are saying, “Look at that beautiful butterfly,” to a two-year-old or, “Be back by ten,” to our teenager. Leviticus 25:7 provides a word of advice no matter what age group we’re dealing with. The Hebrew, via ancient Jewish wisdom translates as, “You shall not cause pain to your fellow with hurtful speech, and you shall fear your God, for I am Hashem your God.”

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that this means that we are not allowed to speak to someone in ways that will cause him or her pain because of the tremendous value of Shalom, peace, between people.  Here is my rough translation of one oral tradition transmitter’s comments:

And this mitzvah (commandment) also applies to children, and to one’s sons and daughters, that one should be careful to not cause them too much pain with our words, except for what they greatly need for their development, and one who is lenient with them so as not to cause them pain in this way, will find life, blessing, and honor.

Wow!  This sage is giving an immense blessing specifically to parents who are cautious not to speak hurtfully to their children!

Now of course he is not saying that this commandment negates the obligation of raising our children properly, or that we don’t have to sometimes speak to our children in ways that will be painful for them.  However, I think it is a fascinating reminder to us to be careful in what we say and how we say, it especially when correcting our children.

I don’t know how this will apply to each of you, but I’d like to share what I practically took out of this idea today.  Sometimes when I rebuke or speak harshly to my children I find that I say more than I need to.  Maybe this sounds familiar?  We might use three sentences where one would have been adequate.  Or bring an issue up again a few hours later after the situation is over and finished?  Sometimes, especially when we’re emotionally riled up by whatever is going on we say more than necessary or say it more frequently than needed.  For today, this is what I’d like to share with you:

“Don’t cause pain with hurtful speech.”

Within our families, with our children, let’s try today to focus on this mitzvah, to bite our tongues. Even when it is necessary to point out something that needs correction, we can make an effort to do so in a manner that is short and sweet.

2 thoughts on “Saying Too Much?”

  1. Janet McIntosh

    Wow! This is right on time for me. I’m in the midst of a spiritual battle with my adult daughter. Whom has been treading just a bit close to the line of disrespect. I have bitten my tongue so hard that it has caused me much pain because I love my daughter who continues to call me as if there’s no problem between us. I have hesitated to address her attitude because I don’t want to argue. Also as a parent I know it is better to keep quiet if possible. She doesn’t live with me so it’s easy not to fight however as I’ve stated she continues to call for casual talk and I don’t want to talk with her under these circumstances. In my heart I know to remain quiet for fear of talking too much. I recently asked her if we could keep a healthy distance from each other in order to keep the peace she agreed but responded angrily. Thank you for your advice it is a welcome and confirms for me that I’m thinking along the right lines by not wanting to cause her harm even when she is hurting me.

    1. I’m so sorry for your pain, Janet. One of the difficult life transitions is accepting that our adult children must make their own decisions and fight their own battles. It sounds like your daughter may be craving your love even while she knows she doesn’t have your acceptance.

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