The day after returning to Denver from the Philippines, I made my way down to Colorado Springs to attend a two-day conference. Jet lag was getting the best of me.

The cucumber and orange slices beckoned my weary self as they floated in the clear container of water. I grabbed a chocolate chip cookie from the refreshment table and then pulled the silver spigot toward me to fill my thermos in preparation for my hour and a half drive back home. I reasoned, “The water plus the caffeine from the chocolate would keep me alert.”

“Am I taking too long filling my water bottle?” I wondered. A beautifully put together woman, with perfectly manicured red nails and lips to match saddled up alongside me. I smiled, letting her know I saw her. Apparently that smile was an invitation to talk.

“Oh honey,” her voice dripped with southern charm.

“Don’t you wish you could take those cucumber slices and put them on the bags under your eyes?”

I released the spigot, dropped my smile, crinkled my puffy eyes, and stepped away from the table. I felt unbalanced and blindsided. Her gentle tone didn’t match her nasty comment. I had no words.

Her unkind comment physically separated us. This interaction was a good reminder that I can also wield unkind words.  I have said things that temporarily emotionally separate my children from me.

Whether unkindness comes in a southern drawl or a direct hit, the results are the same. Unkindness divides and constructs relational walls. Because I want a relationship with my kids that lasts a lifetime, I am choosing to dispose of these verbal weapons: (To read the rest article and discover the  5 ways to create an emotionally safe here. )



About the Author

Lori Wildenberg is a licensed parent and family educator and co-founder of, Lori's newest parenting book is available on Amazon or at your favorite bookstore. Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home. Contact Lori for your next event or for parent consulting or parent training courses. Lori can also be found mentoring over at the MOMS Together community on Facebook.