By Janet Lund
Kick off the new year with a resolution that will nurture your relationships forever. Commit to be putdown-free in 2020!
You may be thinking, “That’s impossible in my house!” This may feel like an unreachable goal. We are all sinful. We all make mistakes. But if you commit to this, your chances of nurturing your home into a healthy habitat will be much higher than just hoping.
Over the years, I have witnessed families where putdowns reigned in the home. It was painful to watch walls build up between family members. The family unit lacked warmth and care for each other. It was ruled by sarcasm and snide remarks, instead of love and laughter.
You are the grownup. You are the parent. You are in charge. So, lead your kids. Help them grow and mature into healthy individuals who are compassionate communicators. Together make a pact to speak and act with kindness.
4 Steps to Create a Putdown Covenant:
1) Get a piece of paper and pens. At the top of the paper, title it, “The [your name] Family Putdown Covenant of 2020.” Below the title, write down how you will act towards each other. Work on this together.
Here is an example:
“We commit to working together as a family to create a putdown-free environment in our home! We will strive to be mindful of the words we say, our body language, and our attitudes. If we break this covenant, we promise to apologize for our words and actions. We commit to discussing the situation with respect. We will do our best to listen well and calmly share what we are feeling so we can better understand each other.”
2) Take turns sharing an example of when you felt put down. Ask the following questions: “How did it make you feel?” Or “How did you feel about being with that person afterward?” It’s important for your kids to remember how it felt when they were put down. Doing so will make them more mindful of the words they use when speaking to each other.
Discuss how harsh words hurt and make it hard to trust and be open with each other. Ask your kids, “Wouldn’t it be great to know that we are not only family, but people who love and care about each other too?”
3) Explain that one of the best ways to avoid putting others down is by taking time to first understand what we are feeling. When we work at avoiding our own negative feelings, we often end up lashing out at others. Encourage your kids to ask themselves, “What am I feeling?” and “Why am I feeling this way?” Doing this will help them both understand themselves better and avoid hurting others.
4) Repeat this commitment every day in 2020!
Back in the Day
Back in my youth ministry days, I had the kids sign a putdown covenant at the beginning of each retreat. We would discuss what putdowns were, how they can hurt a person, and why they damage relationships. It was a great way to kick off a weekend together. It really helped the kids be more mindful of what they said throughout the weekend. When there was a putdown, we would pause and discuss it.
As a mom, it is important to set a good example for your kids. Your kids are always watching and listening even when you are sure they are not. (I know I was!)
Being putdown-free is an important thing to live out in every area of your life. Putdowns injure all relationships whether they are with family, friends, acquaintances, or co-workers.
Women and Words
Especially as women it is important to watch our tongues.
From the very first day on the playground, boys work through their arguments by yelling and punching each other. Girls, however, are more “discreet” in their fights. Hurtful words are spoken either face to face or spread through gossip. Nonverbal language like eye rolling, “circling the wagons” when a new girl wants to join the group, or ignoring another girl’s presence are other ways to put another girl down.
Boys are often reprimanded for getting into fights at school, but girls often get away with their more secretive behavior.
Unfortunately, as grownups some women continue to use these same techniques in the workplace, at social gatherings, on social media, in neighborhoods, and even in churches.
It’s important to be aware of our mindset before joining a group of women. Our “cat claws” often come out and swipe when we feel tired, overwhelmed, or unattractive. Crossing paths with someone who is younger, in better physical shape, or wealthier may also set us off.
If at any moment you feel inspired to say something negative, take time to reflect on why that is. The desire to say hurtful words most likely has more to do with how you are feeling about yourself or your situation than the person you are attacking.
Kick Off the Year Right
Lead your family into becoming the people God made you to be. Make positive words a habit in 2020 at home and beyond.
Lead. Listen. Love.
Janet Lund is a relationship coach who specializes in nurturing the bond between moms and their teen/pre-teen daughters. She leads moms through coaching, speaking, and songwriting. Janet has spoken and performed in Canada, the United States, and Norway. Follow her on facebook.com/momkeepcalm and visit her website at momkeepcalm.com for parenting tools and words of support to be a calm mom.