Three Gates : Words of Wisdom

June 2, 2010

If you’ve read about me, you will know my Mother died, almost four years ago (she was only 51).  Sometimes it feels like yesterday and sometimes it feels like forever ago. Just last night, right before I went to sleep, I felt a sudden pain in my chest and a familiar panic: Mum’s not here anymore; I won’t see her in this life again.  It happens to me sometimes like that.  Although, I always have this indescribable ache, sometimes the pain hits me like a tonne of bricks and it’s hard to breathe.  When this happens, I think about some of the things my Mum taught me; she taught me to be careful with the words I spoke.  I think this verse it the Bible sums up the damage words can do: 

“It takes strong winds to move a large sailing ship, but the captain uses only a small rudder to make it go in any direction. Our tongues are small too, and yet they brag about big things. It takes only a spark to start a forest fire! The tongue is like a spark.” James 3: 4-6b.

My Mother taught me to be careful with what came out of my mouth by giving me strategies to put into practice (she was a proactive Mum).  I don’t always get it right though; I’ve hurt others with my words many times, unintentionally or otherwise.  As I seek to be a positive example for my children and in-turn, teach them to use self-control over their words, I am passing on my Mother’s wisdom.  It goes like this:

The idea is to put your words through these three gates before you speak: Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it true?

This gate can be tricky.  You see, sometimes kindness is not always niceness. Kindness can mean these things: helpful, agreeable, merciful, considerate and compassionate.  I think the word that represents this gate is — helpful.  Are the words going to be helpful to the person hearing them?  There are times when helpful words are hard to hear.

Necessity arises from an essential need. Does the person need to hear what you have to say? Is it essential?

Has the fact been verified? That is, not gossip or hearsay.

If the words don’t pass the three gate questions, then bite your lip hard and Hold it!

If the answers to the three gate questions are dubious, take time to think about what you want to say before you decide to Say it! or Hold it!

If your words pass all three questions, then feel free to Say it!


I love picturing the three gates in my mind’s eye. This pictorial lesson of using self-control with what I say, has stayed with me — closely. I don’t use the Three Gates method all the time in everyday conversation, although it does sit at the back of my mind.  If I have a tricky situation and am unsure whether to speak or not, I definitely use the Three Gates method — it has proved to be sound advice from Mother-mine.  Remembering her advice helps me feel, for a moment, that she is still here with me.

Related Posts:

Be Proactive NOT Reactive

Be Quiet!

Hands Behind Back

Parenting Shading

Vintage Mother Value

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

NicoleNo Gravatar June 2, 2010 at 9:33 pm

This is gold. I’m going to use it when I go back to teaching. Thank your mum for me next time you speak to her (if you do, I speak to people who have passed away). You are a very wise lady Kelly and the 51 years your mother spent hear on earth were not waisted. She left a wonderful legacy in you. :)


Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar June 5, 2010 at 6:47 pm

You are sweet Nicole


RobynNo Gravatar June 2, 2010 at 9:38 pm

I love that Kell – thank you.
I was thinking of you today, another friend’s mum passed away today. So hard :(


Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar June 5, 2010 at 6:48 pm

Thanks Robyn — I so wish we could catch up over a coffee like old days. It is hard… saying a prayer for your friend now.


The Lumberjack's WifeNo Gravatar June 2, 2010 at 11:49 pm

I love this! I am going to teach this to my girls . . . and myself. :)
Nice to meet you!

I am sorry to hear about your mom. It sounds like you were very close.


Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar June 5, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Thanks Lumberjack’s Wife. We were very close. Thanks for visiting my blog. I’ll be by soon to visit you again.


CarolyneNo Gravatar June 3, 2010 at 12:52 am

Hi Kelly, this is one of the best posts I’ve read on a blog. I am back at uni now doing primary teaching and can really relate to this theory and would love to share it with students during my prac. I think that not only would students benefit from this but their teachers too, to think about how they speak to their students. Thanks so much for sharing this. Your mum sounds like she was an inspiration woman.


Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar June 5, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Thank you so much for your kind words. Please share away.


CarolyneNo Gravatar June 3, 2010 at 1:11 am

Hi Kelly, I tried to send you a message about your post through your contact form but it wouldn’t work. Could you send me a message to so I can contact you? I just wanted to check with you about blogging about your post. Thanks a lot, Carolyne


Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar June 5, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Of course! I’ll fix the contact form. Thanks for letting me know.


MarlaNo Gravatar June 3, 2010 at 4:31 am

Your mother was obviously a very wise women. I absolutely love this advice and will try to remember it when I talk. I sometimes have problems with thinking about the words that are coming out of my mouth. Great advice.

Marla @


Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar June 5, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Thank you for leaving a comment Marla. I found your words comforting.


AshNo Gravatar June 3, 2010 at 5:58 am

I love this, my mum taught it to me too, but we didn’t have the last three which is just as helpful as the first three. Thank-you Kelly, it sounds like your mum was a beautiful person.


Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar June 5, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Thanks Ash. It’s very good advice isn’t it?


maryanneNo Gravatar June 3, 2010 at 9:56 am

Excellent advice.


Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar June 5, 2010 at 7:13 pm



MichelleNo Gravatar June 3, 2010 at 12:22 pm

You’ve said this in such a beautiful way. Can I linky you up with a post from my blog (not a real linky – I don’t know how to do that)


Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar June 5, 2010 at 7:14 pm

Sure Michelle. You want to link one of your posts? Email it to me.


Wonder MomNo Gravatar June 3, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Oh, this a beautiful way to train that pesky tongue of mine!


Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar June 5, 2010 at 7:15 pm

We ALL have pesky tounges lol


ReneeNo Gravatar June 3, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Kelly you really blow me away with your increadible insights…every time I read a post, not only is it really beautifully written, it’s also relevant and useful to my day to day life. I’ve actually brought this page up on my screen about 4 times before I got around to reading it with all my work & children (but welcome) interruptions, and am so glad I took the time to read through. Love the pictorial/visual element too, that really makes it even more useful to me as I’m sure that will stay in my mind for even longer than the words. THANKS!


Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar June 5, 2010 at 7:17 pm

Renee, you always say the nicest things — you lovely thing.


ChristinaNo Gravatar June 3, 2010 at 2:40 pm

I’m so glad I read this! I have said this to my kids before, but they don’t really get it. But the pictures might help! This is great. Thank you for sharing. I may be back to show them the visuals for this!
I also wanted to thank you for your comment on my blog-the foot post. :) I appreciated it very much!


Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar June 5, 2010 at 7:23 pm

:D I love taking photos of feet too.


Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot SpotNo Gravatar June 3, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Hi Kelly, so sorry you lost your mum. We are special and irreplaceable and I’m lucky that my mum is still going strong and able to fly over from the UK every year to visit us in Australia. Great words of wisdom your mum left you and a fine legacy you’re making for her and for yourself. Blogging’s brilliant for that. Most of all I like the idea of being a fun mum and having fun blogging too:) Lovely to meet you!


Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar June 5, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Lovely to meet you too Annabel. I’m so glad your Mum can visit you every year. Cherish the moments.


katepickleNo Gravatar June 3, 2010 at 5:11 pm

fabulous advice… your Mum was a wise and loving woman :)


Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar June 5, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Thanks Kate… yes she was.


CindyNo Gravatar June 3, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Words to live by…they remind me of the program my childrens school promotes: STOP,THINK,DO. My mum passed when I was 16yrs old(she was 38) and I still feel her absence everyday. My dad passed early last year …the loss of a parent is so indescribable, even more so when you are a parent yourself.The treasures your mum passed on to you will no doubt live on as you parent your children. Look forward to reading more. I am grateful having visited your blog.


Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar June 5, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Cindy! Must have been so hard for you, losing you Mum at that age… and then you Dad too. I’m so sorry. I’m glad to connect with you.


veronica leeNo Gravatar June 3, 2010 at 7:53 pm

I’m so sorry about your mom. It’s so nice to meet you. I totally love your blog.


Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar June 5, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Thanks Veronica! I was great to chat. And I totally love you for loving my blog ;)


veronica leeNo Gravatar June 4, 2010 at 8:24 am

Hi again!! Thanks for the follow. I’ve just subscribed to your lovely blog.

Have a nice day!!


JulieNo Gravatar June 4, 2010 at 10:28 am

I have to agree with everyone else Kelly – brilliant! I think I learnt a similar thing, but not put so eloquently (or visually). I will definitely put this in my memory for when my children are older.


Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar June 5, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Yes do Julie — it’s proved to be very good advice and easily understood by children.


EliseNo Gravatar June 4, 2010 at 2:10 pm

I will be taking your mum’s wisdom on board; putting it into practice for myself and teaching it to my children. A wonderful life lesson and way to live your life.

I have been clicking my way through the blogosphere and have stumbled across your blog – I am so grateful that i did. It’s wonderful to “meet” another Aussie mum and I look forward to following your blog.


Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar June 5, 2010 at 7:33 pm

Hi Elise. Welcome to Be A Fun Mum. I’m so very glad to have you here. I’ll hop over and check out your blog now. Talk soon.


AnnetteNo Gravatar June 5, 2010 at 9:07 am

What great advice!


Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar June 5, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Thanks Annette


KatherineNo Gravatar December 13, 2010 at 11:07 am

I love this idea, my son, who is 7, has a tendency to speak before he ever thinks about what he is saying… although the days of the embarrassing outbursts have passed he spends much time talking about silly things that no one needs to hear about. I am going to work on this lesson with him and see if it helps….

Thank you! :)


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