I passed by this quote the other day, and it resonated for me…
“The Way We Talk To Our Children Becomes Their Inner Voice.”
I recently took a road trip and at a rest stop, I saw a father really yelling at his son… It was not only the angry tone used, but the words, that alarmed me. I was really taken aback and noticed that I was actually staring (fortunately he didn’t notice!) I watched the child, who not only separated a distance from his father, in somewhat of a fear response, but also the way he slumped his shoulders and crossed his arms, as if to protect himself (not only physically…but also because the words HURT. It was obvious.)
I have certainly have my moments with my parents over the last three plus decades…but I grew up realizing that we all contribute to the equation – it’s never just them being upset with me, I have a role to play as well. That said, it was instilled in us that respect, care, kindness, and apologies when owed, are of vital importance. Support of one another, communication, accountability…those things matter.
We are going to make mistakes, and we will therefore have “moments” here and there – humans will always go head to head a times, whether because of a personal experience (bad day at work, someone cut us off etc) or because we disagree on something (it happens, we don’t all have to agree on everything!) etc, BUT…it is important how we speak to each other.
Sarcasm was always hard for me…maybe because I have had some ugly relationships where people used it FAR too often. A friend of mine recently posted an article about how sarcasm can injure a relationship (of any kind) – it can be hurtful even if not intended that way, so imagine a little one hearing it! With children it is especially tough because they definitely won’t understand the nuances, or the jest! Yelling is another toughie – we have all done it, but it can hurt…especially a child who probably already knows he or she did something wrong. We can express disappointment without yelling (in fact, it may impress the point more so without it!)
This quotation also falls in line with this, and I find it to be incredibly true much of the time…
I couldn’t speak to the nature of the conflict with this gentleman and his little one…but it was in a public place, it was loud, the tone was harsh, and the words were not appropriate for a child of maybe eight or so. It wasn’t my business, and still isn’t, but I felt sad because SO much was said in the body language. Consequences are important, no doubt…but we do have to be mindful of the words and tone we use because that can carry forward as the child grows older.
I was most definitely NOT perfect as a child…and I’m still far from it…but what I CAN say is that my parents were always incredibly supportive.
I may not have fit the mold (evident early on!), but they loved and supported me anyway – they always made me feel strong, beautiful and talented.
I may not have loved the same subjects, and have focused more on sports than school, but they would help me when I needed it, and encourage me when I was having a hard time – they made me believe I had the ability even when I doubted.
They would say how proud they were of my athletic accomplishments, and that it was okay not to like exactly the same things as everyone else, so long as I followed my heart…and my heart was happy.
When I was out of line, I also had consequences. We had as many tiffs as the next family…but I never, EVER questioned my safety, nor that I was loved. Never. To see a child respond in a way that suggests he or she might, breaks my heart. Not everyone realizes that words and tone can injure.
Words can ALSO give a child wings...and I hope that more air on the side of feeling encouraged, beautiful and safe, than not. It is possible for that to happen even with “learning as we go” and “timeouts.”