Words matter. The best words stick and stay in your mind for a lifetime. Aibileen Clark, the black maid unjustly fired by her racist white employer in The Help, set in 1963 Mississippi, believed in the power of words. You probably know the nine words she planted like seeds in the mind of Mae Mobley, the two-year-old daughter of her employer: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” She believed her words would matter.
Words still matter today. But important words, especially for children, can easily get washed away in the modern flood of media and Internet content. Words in those fast-moving waters barely have time to stick, much less stay, in the mind. The wise parent, though, knows that their words to their children are different. They can be lifegiving words. Like seeds planted in fertile soil, their words can take root, grow, and shape a child’s life.
Enlightenment thinker John Locke (1632–1704) believed every human comes into the world as a tabula rasa, a “blank slate.” In contrast, Scripture assumes that children arrive already prepared by God. To use a modern analogy, the hard drive of a child’s mind is not empty, but already formatted and even programmed. Children bear the imago Dei, the image of God, and they are spiritually preconditioned to respond to their parents.
The biblical reality is that God has prepared the ground of your children’s hearts. If you water and cultivate that soil, the seed-words you plant there will take root and grow (Luke 8:15). But here’s the important part—you must choose good seeds to grow good children. With the words comprising the following five truths, you can tell your children who they are. There are countless other good seed-words you will speak, but these, like Aibileen’s simple words, can shape your children’s perceptions. Here are five life-giving truths to plant in your children.