Punctuation Parenting

Family Matters - December 2013

Tool #4: Quotation Marks

You find them on plaques. You find them on posters. You find them all over the Internet. You read them on Facebook. There are famous ones from famous people, and there are famous ones from anonymous people. We even have some that are

homegrown within our families.

What are they? They are quotations. They are those memorable phrases that often speak indelible truths. When we hear them, we love to pass them along to

others and often wish we had said them in the first place.

To acknowledge these significant words, we use “quotation marks.” These marks note the exact words of speech of a person. They are precise and also reference the source. It gives credit to the originator of the phrase and allows for the words to live on indefinitely. Good quotes — as well as bad ones — get passed on from one

generation to the next. In this digital and media-driven world, they abound and confuse as well as inspire and comfort.

There are but a few of us who will utter famous lines that will catch the public eye, wind up on TV or get printed in the newspaper. But as a parent, every single word you speak has the potential for a long-term effect in the life of your child and even the lives of their children.

This is a great opportunity for us to have a positive influence in the life of a child, through intentionally planned comments as well as our off-the-cuff remarks. The big question for us to consider is: Is what I’m saying to my child something that I would want printed in tomorrow’s newspaper or broadcast on the evening news or spoken back to me by my child sometime in the future?

If we said something helpful or inspirational, if we spoke words of care and support to our child, then we’d be OK with others hearing or reading it. What about those

others moments? What about when we lose our temper or when we say things we later regret? Would we want this on a poster, in a booklet or on TV? Probably not.

How can we manage our selves and our words so that our “quotable quotes” are affirming rather than infirming? Here are two suggestions:

1) Know the moment. Pay close attention to what is going on, where you are, who is watching, what preceded things and what will be the most helpful thing to say. Let

the context help you find the context for your message and choice of words.

2) Limit your words. As parents, we love teachable moments and want to make the most of them, but we also must realize that teachable moments don’t have to

be long. Young children have a short attention span, so the most helpful statement might be a short statement, a single sentence or even just a few words.

We might not think that our words have such an impact, but they do! Children will remember what was said and how it was said for years and years. As parents, our

children will quote us. When they do, we will want those words to be memorable, but more importantly, we want them to be helpful, supportive and loving.

FAMILY LINKS: Activities for families to reinforce Bible story truths in the home.


Begin with a prayer spoken out loud by an adult.

Family Quotes

Take some time to share sayings and quotes spoken in your family. Think about what people in your family say …

■ in the morning?

■ when it is time to eat?

■ when you need to clean up your room?

■ when it is time for a bath?

■ when it is time to go to school or church?

■ when you watch TV?

■ when you go out shopping?

■ when you go to the house of a friend or relative?

■ at bedtime?

Great Christmas Quotes

It is now the Christmas season. Take a moment for family members to share quotes they have heard others say about Christmas.

The great Christmas Quote:

Look up Luke 2:8–15, and read it aloud.

1. What is the great quote spoken by the angel? (Read verses 10–12 again.)

2. Why is this such a wonderful statement? (It tells us that Jesus, our Savior, has been born!)

3. What do the shepherds say when they hear this news from the angel? (They say they will go to Bethlehem to see Jesus!)

Family Christmas Quote

There are many Christmas quotes that you already talked about — some religious and some not. Take a moment to write a few sayings that you want your family to remember this Christmas. Put them on different pieces of paper, decorate and color them. Then hang them in your home as part of your Christmas decorations.

Closing Prayer

Quote the prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray. Do it as an echo prayer if children are too young and don’t yet know the words.

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

For Parents

Take time this week to make a list of 3-5 “new quotes” that you would like to start using as part of your intentional communication process within your immediate and

extended family.

Family Matters Vol. 18 / No. 4 / November 2013

Family Matters is an LCMS School Ministry newsletter.

Reprinted with permission of LCMS School Ministry.