Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Quieting Myself for the Good of Others

Hermann Pohle painting, 1901.

It is always important to know when to speak and when to be quiet.  We are often having casual conversation with family members or friends and we may end up saying something that harms rather than helps.

The biggest and most common example of this is when we offer a contrary opinion, without thinking, or give overbearing advice as an instant reflex when we should have kept quiet.

This causes harm because it discourages others.  It makes them second guess themselves. It drags them down instead of lifting them up.  Many parents do this to their children without thinking.

I first heard of this method of keeping quiet, years ago, when I read the book "Emma: A Widow Among the Amish" by Ervin R. Stutzman.  Emma gave her growing children the space to make their own mistakes and make their own decisions as they were becoming young adults. There were certainly rules in her house but she knew they had to learn how to make their own choices. She spent a lot of time in prayer and stood back as she watched God work in their lives.

I have sometimes found myself saying to my grown children, "You should do this," or "You shouldn't do that." These are choices that are not really my business such as what they were planning to do that day or what job they were thinking of taking.   I was giving my opinion as a reflex instead of sitting back and being grateful, knowing that God loves them so much and He is in control.  I am not to be bossy or controlling of the lives of adults. My opinion does not matter. My ideas will not always work for them. We have different tastes and skills. We are from different generations.   They are on their own path and God has a plan for their lives that I do not need to understand.  I must remember that God's ways and thoughts are higher than mine. The Lord does not need my help or ideas. I cannot comprehend His wonderful plan. That is how little I should be thinking of my opinions. 

In other ways, we might even tell young children what they should like or dislike.  It is too easy to interfere with their precious lives by saying something foolish that doesn't matter. For a more positive example: If I don't like broccoli, for instance, I might say, "I don't like that vegetable, but it's okay if you do." This is because they look up to us. They want to please us.  They must be reassured that it is okay to have different tastes.

How can children learn to listen to the Holy Spirit, strengthen their conscience, reach out to God in prayer if all they ever hear is a nagging mother or grandmother in the background?  We ought to have confidence in them. We should be understanding and patient as they grow and learn. It is a joy for them to have the opportunity to peacefully live their daily lives. They should be reassured by a mother who smiles at them, as they go about their day, with her heart full of love and compassion.

It is too easy to misunderstand our children. Their intentions are often good. Our humble opinions are not needed. It might be best to give general advice only when asked. They really only need for us to listen and to love them. We are already teaching them the Bible, leading them to God in prayer, and being an example of depending on God in our Christian lives. We need to trust our children and have faith that God is taking care of everything. We have no need to worry.  We could pray for wisdom before we speak. Our words should be carefully selected to uplift and encourage.  

When genuine counsel is asked of us by our grown children, it might be best to guide them in the process of deciding for themselves. This will help form maturity and dependability in their characters.  A suggestion for doing this is to ask some questions such as:

"What are the options you are thinking of?" 

"What will be the long term consequences or benefits of this choice?"

"Have you researched this or asked questions?" 

"Would this be in line with the principles of Scripture?"

"Have you prayed about it? Do you feel peace about it?"

We really cannot make decisions for other adults even if they are our own children. They have to live out the consequences of those choices whether they be positive or negative. This is part of their growth. We have to remember that we will not always be here. 

Most of the time, we mothers may tend to jump in with our opinions. This is a habit that must be overcome.  We need to be more peaceful and trusting. The most beautiful words we can share are those of hymns and precious verses of Scripture.  "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."  Speak words of blessings. This will cheer them along and brighten their path.

Be quiet, meek, and gentle.  Live a cheerful, peaceful life. This will benefit our children and grandchildren more than any idle words we could ever say. 

A quiet spirit, a sweet nature, a kind look, are all for the good of those around us.  We can do all these loving things without saying very much.  We must live by faith and trust, knowing that God's plans are far better than ours could ever be.

Mrs. White

From the Archives - 

Encouragement from 2012 - The Virtue of Silence.

It is all I ever want to be - Secretary to the Master

Peaceful, quiet Living - Sunday Driver

Ration Books from 1942 and helpful advice - Adapting to the High Cost of Living.


 - To find out more about this blog, or Mrs. White, please visit our About page. -

  For Encouragement in Christian Homemaking, order Mrs. White's book, "Homemaking For Happiness: Wonderful Days at Home."

In this book, you will find essays, articles, and diary entries about life in a Christian home.

Entries are arranged by season, and include:  "Keeping a Frugal Kitchen;" "Missing the Lilacs;" "An Evening Walk in the Garden;" "At Grandmother's House;" and "Chores for Grandchildren."

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Paperback, 307 pages. 






Vicki said...

There is so much wisdom in what you have shared! Thank you.

Debbie said...

This is a valuable piece of advice, Mrs. White. Having grown children (adults) is tough, because we never stop being mothers. We still feel like it's our job to guide and direct, but really, a blessing or kind affirmation is much better put to use, than one more set of instructions.

Thank you for this reminder.

Marilyn said...

I really needed this today. My grandson 21, is making some choices that I believe are against everything his parents have taught him. He does not live with me by the way, but still I really try and bite my tongue on occasion. My brother used to say, never offer advice because if they follow the advice and things go wrong, they will say they shouldn't have listened to us. That makes communication difficult in the future. God bless you Mrs. White, your subjects are always timely for me.

Darla Mae said...

Dear Mrs. White,

I wanted to thank you for the wise, wonderful words of this post. I saw myself in the words and it wasn't pretty. I know I need to keep my opinions to myself, unless asked for them, but I didn't realize how my words sounded to others. Now I will doubly keep my mouth closed and my opinions to myself and the only words I should speak, should be uplifting and kind. The person you described at the end is the person I want to be.

Best Wishes~

Homemaker' said...

Oh my goodness. I have been praying about this and thinking about this so much lately. I really am the kind of person who does jump in with what I think and know immediately that I shouldn't. Every day I pray for wisdom and discernment - what to say, what not to say; how to act, how to react; what to do, and what not to do. Just waiting for others to ASK for my opinions and help instead of just diving in. It's SO difficult though! LOL Thank you for your post, Mrs. White!

Marsha said...

EXCELLENT WISDOM! The last paragraph says it all.
"A quiet spirit, a sweet nature, a kind look, are all for the good of those around us. We can do all these loving things without saying very much. We must live by faith and trust, knowing that God's plans are far better than ours could ever be."
Blessings dear one! THANKS!

Jean | said...

Beautiful post, Mrs White. I've jumped in with my opinion and regretted it more than once. Now each time I try to catch myself before speaking, I'll think of it as "Quieting Myself."

GrammaGrits said...

What wise words that I wish I'd had and lived by raising my children. I think my learning began when my first child married, and I had to apologize for something I said that was none of my business. Oh, I wanted it to be but it truly wasn't. With older grandchildren now making what I believe are unwise choices, I've learned prayer does far more than speaking; but I do believe we have to continue to let the Holy Spirit guide when we should speak and what to say. One of my daughters told me, "Love them, Mom. That's what they need." Blessings to you and your family!

Sue said...

What a wonderful post, such wisdom you have imparted, I so needed to read this, thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post, Mrs. White.
I really needed to hear it and thank God my heart was open to your wise message.
God bless you!

Anonymous said...

This was probably the best column you’ve ever posted. I need to learn this. I’m sure my “helpful “ suggestions are not received in the manner they are offered and it’s best that I learn to stay quiet and let experience be the teacher. Sherri Killion 🙂

Anonymous said...

Thank you, dear lady. I've tried for years to moderate my talk just this way, and it's hard! Some people I cannot talk with as they have all the solutions for my life. Superficial chat is safest with them. I want my family to feel secure talking with me, not threatened or browbeaten.


Marianne said...

Dear Mrs White, how I needed to read and reread this timely article! It is truly full of wisdom .As the mother of 3 grown sons I continue to learn daily how much I need to just be quiet unless I am encouraging them or admiring them in some way. Just last evening I spoke with our youngest to say happy birthday and the longer we chatted the more i " put my foot in it". Help me , LORD to learn and to obey.
Your friend,
Marianne in Alabama

Connie said...

I believe in not interfering in the lives of our adult children, but I also believe that we need to be in prayer always for wisdom and discernment in our speaking with them. Sometimes they need a wise word to put them back on track, the same as I do at different times in my life.
There are seasons to speak up and seasons to keep quiet. We just need to have the wisdom to know the difference. There are times when we all need a strong friend that will have the courage to speak up when we need it. That goes the same for our children at every age.
It's our responsibility to raise them up in the way there should go and God honors this. The world was designed to lead them astray and Satan is always at work, night and day. Peace isn't made my never speaking up, sometimes speaking up can hurt both parties for a time, but also wake us up to seeing that we are making bad choices. We should have the wisdom to gently guide our children no matter their age and when the season presents it's self, sometimes we might have to speak in a way that is not gentle but always in love.

Wanda said...

Dear Mrs. White ~ I was so pleased to see your visit and comment on my blog! I was anxious to come and meet you and I'm so glad I did. Your post is so relavant to my life too. 4 adult children, 8 adult grandchildren and 1 grandchild age 10. 3 great grandsons, ages 14, 13, and 6 months.
Some are following the Lord, some not so close. I love that you agree we cannot change adults and should not, but pray and give loving advice when ask.
Your profile was so wonderful to read and encouraging. So glad you came by my blog and I surely will enjoy visiting yours.

Patti said...

I haven't visited in a very long time. Have been taking a long break from the internet, due to time constraints. But I am trying to tweak my schedule a bit so that I have time for the blogs I always found so encouraging and inspiring, yours being one of them.

My children are now in their 30's, and the way you have described is exactly how I try to be with them. Beginning in their mid-twenties, when they had either married or moved out of our house, I took the attitude that "if an opinion wasn't asked for, no opinion would be given." I try to treat my children as I treat all adults, and I certainly don't tell other adults what I think they should be doing. My time of "parenting" them is over. Now I have to entrust their decisions to the Lord.

Blessings to you,

Linda said...

So gentle and wise, thank you Mrs White