Three Gates : Words of Wisdom

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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Kelly loves life at both ends of the spectrum: wearing high heel shoes one day and hiking boots the next; sipping tea out of a pretty cup and slurping hot coffee from a camping mug; challenging herself physically and stopping for quiet unhurried moments to feel the wind on her face. Kelly and her husband Matthew seek to live a fun and adventurous life with their four children and pet bird.

Latest posts by Kelly - Be A Fun Mum (see all)


  1. Nicole says

    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. :)

  2. says

    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.

  3. says

    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.

  4. says

    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)

  5. says

    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!

  6. says

    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!

  7. says

    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!

  8. says

    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.

  9. says

    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.

  10. says

    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.

  11. says

    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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