It’s All in the Tone

We’re at the neighborhood pool on a Saturday. Littlest guy, who is not scared of the water at all, jumped and dog paddled all morning. I look over as he swims to his Daddy, face down in the water. Suddenly, he comes up coughing and sputtering. Calmly, Daddy says, “You’re ok. Cough it out now. Good job on the swimming!” Littlest guy smiles at his Daddy.

How would our three-year-old have acted had we all jumped at him, scooped him up and frantically asked if he was ok? He likely would have been scared.

A few nights later, I awake to booming, rattling thunder, bright flashes of lightning and weather alert alarms going off. We, as parents, can set the tone, model the reaction.

God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

If we, as parents, have these truths from the Bible tucked in our hearts, they will naturally set the tone in our homes.

We can talk about The One in control when four out of our five are gathered around on our bedroom floor at 3:23 a.m. It can be a learning opportunity. We wonder about the one
child still resting peacefully. How can she sleep? This verse comes to mind:

…I’ll put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with my hand…Exodus 33:21

“God is taking care of us,” I tell littlest one as I pull him close. He then asks, “Where is God?” Daddy answers, “Why, He’s on His throne in heaven as He always is. He’s King of the universe. And He’s taking care of us.”

Singing also breaks the tension of a frightening moment, no matter what your child’s age.

…His eye is on the sparrow and I know He’s watching me.

…All day long, I’ve been with Jesus, it has been a glorious day. I’ve just moved up one step higher and I’m walking on the King’s highway.

…Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world…

Laughing at the situation. That’s right, in an extra tense moment, burst out in laughter. Or share a funny story from your childhood. “So, when I’m lying in my bed and the furniture starts creeping. I’ll just laugh and say, hey cut that out and get back to my sleeping…”

Trusting at all times. But setting the tone in our homes applies not only when the spiders or scary bugs show up. But also…

…when the financially challenging times come.

…after your child is hurt by a friend.

…whatever challenge or storm looms then booms on every side.

Parents set the tone in the home. Isn’t it best for our children to learn the way to react from us? at home? See, often it’s not the words we say but the tone of voice that conveys our love and care. Daily, daily, daily we are the example of how to live in this world. Ouch! That means admitting to our children when are wrong. Asking, “will you please forgive me for…” Modeling forgiveness so our children will know just how to ask for forgiveness too. But also so the children will know from the day-to-day goings on in our homes the freedoms that exist with a life in Christ.

…but of power and love and discipline.

…and forgiveness.

…and loving care.

So, teach them as you lie down and as you walk on the road…Yes, through His strength we can be purposeful in our parenting. Even when a child comes up for air and is sputtering.
Even in the middle of the night, in the thick of the storm.

What is the tone in your home?

Next Week’s Author:  Tyler Robbins

Tricia Hodges and her husband, Steve, are homeschooling parents to two boys and three girls. Tricia’s bachelor of arts in journalism wasn’t what prepared her for the biggest lesson she’s learned. She found out at the end of the day – when the dishes are put away and the children are tucked in bed – truly what matters is each child’s relationship with the Lord. Raising children is a God-given privilege and, folks, the time is short. Tricia writes about her daily dose of chaos at Hodgepodge.
Tricia Hodges
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Tricia’s website


  1. Passionate Purposeful Parenting says:

    Tricia, this was such a good reminder to me — thank you so much! I so much want to set the right tone in my home, but, to be honest, it can be a struggle sometimes. Daily I need to be abiding in Him and allowing the Spirit to work in and through me always remembering to ask forgiveness when need be. The way we impact our children the most is through our example, not words! :)

    • Melanie, thank you for your encouraging, honest words. Yes, it is a daily asking for wisdom and grace. I like Jesus’ words I found just yesterday, quoted in a Henry Blackaby study…”By myself I can do nothing” John 5:30. Praise the Lord He gives us just what we need, just when we need it.

  2. Powerful message!

  3. So true, Tricia! What an excellent reminder that we have much, much more influence over our children than we think! I can remember many times my tone calming children who would have been otherwise frightened, embarrassed, etc. I can also remember a few times my tone was not good, and did not help them. Thankfully, we can learn from our mistakes!

  4. Oh I love this. I just read about how we set the tone for our young children, called “social referencing” in a textbook, but I prefer your Biblical perspective!

  5. Angie Bannister says:

    Beautiful and so true!!! Thanks for this reminder, I needed it!!

  6. Thank you friends. Yes, we surely can learn from mistakes. And, often, it is hard to remember to react positively. I think the hardest for me is the busting out laughing part. But it’s amazing how quickly the tone is changed!!


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