Bite Your Tongue

Let’s face it; we aren’t going to like everyone we meet. In fact, there are some people we are going to dislike. We don’t agree with everyone’s choices, some people flat-out confuse us, and others are just obnoxious. When possible, it might be best to keep our opinions to ourselves and bite our tongues.

There are times when someone’s actions or habits demand a response. Someone says something or acts in such a way and we feel the need to explain to our children, sharing the worldview or character traits which brought about such behavior. However, generally speaking, when we make comments on how others live their lives, what we are really doing is gossiping. We don’t like how someone did something and feel the need to give our own opinions. We can’t believe so-and-so had the nerve to do thus and so; so we spo ut off about their actions. We aren’t looking to make moral evaluations and warn our children of future dangers, we are being mean and unkind.

Silly Girls

Our children learn from watching us; what they see us do and say. If we are being unkind toward others, they will begin to copy the model set before them and develop the bad habit of gossiping about others. They will learn to be critical, judgemental, unkind, bitter, and lack grace. While I highly advise using life experiences as teaching tools, we need to be sure we are evaluating for the sake of character training and not merely being critical. Pointing out unwise decisions helps our children make sound future choices. Condemning people with our words teaches nothing except unkindness.

Let us be careful with the way we choose to speak about people, both in private and in front of our kids. Let us speak with grace and mercy, dealing with others as Christ has dealt with us.

Time to Chime In: We were always taught, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Do you agree with the sentiment? Please share your thoughts.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” – Ephesians 4:29


11 thoughts on “Bite Your Tongue

  1. I do agree with the adage of, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Even if I am sure something is wrong with what someone is saying or doing, I may need to bite my tongue until I can articulate it in a positive way (or at least try to). Sometimes, after some thought, I find that what is wrong are my own views and perceptions. Sometimes I find that what seemed so wrong in the moment was wrong, but it wasn’t so awful that it needs to be pursued. And generally speaking, simply attacking someone isn’t going to get them to change their ways no matter how wrong their ways are. So, it’s wasted energy on my part.

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  2. My aunt always told me that if I couldn’t say anything nice or if I knew i was going to be around someone I found unpleasant to chew gum. This was supposed to help me stay polite and not say anything I might regret. I still do it to this day.

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  3. “Pointing out unwise decisions helps our children make sound future choices. Condemning people with our words teaches nothing except unkindness.” Excellent distinction here. I am an analyzer. I ponder everything to death! I have been convicted more than once that my tendency to voice my analytical thoughts can so easily come across as mean-spirited. Sometimes (if I’m honest) it IS mean-spirited and sometimes not, but HOW I word things can make all the difference in whether it actually teaches my children or simply smears someone else’s character. What a fine line it can be sometimes!

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  4. What a great post! I’m one of those kids who didn’t get wonderful advice or the benefit of “the golden rule” teaching when I was growing up. But I have started to use these wise words with my children, even though they are teenagers. These words are timeless!

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  5. I don’t see discussing (privately to avoid rudeness) talking about choices others have made in their lives for the education and well being of my children as gossip. To me gossip is idle talk or rumors- talking about what is not true or having no benefit in what I’m saying other than to talk down or slander the person. I can discuss with my kids why something is sinful or a poor choice and still find kind things to say about the person. It doesn’t have to be gossip to share with them and educate them on the better choices to make in their lives should they ever happen upon such circumstances. One just has to be careful in how we are talking about the person as a whole. Are we criticizing them as PEOPLE (which is always wrong as they are made in the image of God) or are we teaching our child how to make better choices and think through problems if they find themselves in similar situations? As for ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’- I find that can backfire on me…. If I say nothing my kids know I have nothing good to say! And that can be a hard one too! LOL

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