Cutting Out Cutting Remarks

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    I was becoming increasingly concerned with the mean comments and name-calling that my children seemed to be using more and more frequently. I had tried several approaches to stop the negative talk without much success.

    Then one Sunday my oldest son mentioned that his Primary lesson had been about the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. I knew the story: the Lamanites, who had been converted by the Spirit through the teachings of Ammon and his brothers, repented and buried their weapons of war, covenanting with God that they would never use them again (see Alma 24:15–19).

    Suddenly an idea came to me. If they could bury their weapons, or swords, then why couldn’t we bury our weapons—our words? An idea for a family home evening lesson began to take shape.

    First, I asked my son who had mentioned the story to be prepared to tell it to the family and to read verses 17–18 from Alma 24 [Alma 24:17–18]. Next, I prepared some small slips of paper on which to write the words and phrases that needed to be buried. As a visual aid, I used a “Mormonad” poster showing a boy with knives flying out of his mouth and captioned, “Cutting remarks are really hurting” (available in distribution centers, item no. 35420, $1.00 U.S.). For our songs, I chose “Kindness Begins with Me” (Children’s Songbook, 145) and “Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words” (Hymns, no. 232).

    When Monday night came, I had the children write down on little slips of paper the objectionable words and phrases they had been using. Because it was pouring rain, I had to abandon my original idea of burying our words in the backyard and instead used the trash can. Still, the kids’ enthusiasm was remarkable. We made a ceremony out of burying our word “weapons” by promising not to use them again.

    Since that time my children have found new and better ways to express themselves. And the Mormonad hangs in a prominent place as a reminder to speak kindly to one another. On rare occasions when someone forgets and uses unkind words, it is enough to say, “We buried that, remember?”—Alice E. Workman, Vancouver, Washington

    Illustrated by Julianne Allen