“sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
That saying was probably chanted by children on every playground across the country when I was a kid. But honestly, I couldn’t disagree more. Wait..is that a double negative? Is it “I could disagree more”? Dad? Anybody? Ugh, anyway, moving on…
I feel that words can actually hurt more than physical wounds. I mean, unless we’re talking about stoning on a biblical level, your body would heal if a stick and/or stone was thrown at you. Words, however, can stay with you forever. To this day, certain unpleasant conversations I’ve had with people or means things people have said to me randomly play on a reel in my head, making me relive the hurt, discomfort, anger, what have you, all over again. Harmful words at a young age though, I feel, are even more dangerous.
Let me backtrack and explain my inspiration for this post. Two events actually last week spurred me to write this post but I’m just now getting around to it. Incident number one occurred at “the happiest place on earth.” As you know, we spend a lot of time at Disney World. Much of the time you’re in pretty close quarters with people (which is quite unfortunate especially in the hot summer months-it’s called deodorant people!) and you hear a lot of conversations. Among those conversations I have heard some of the nastiest, most outrageously abusive and just downright mean things said to small children by their own parents. Now I will say, maybe these parents are extremely stressed and at their limit both emotionally and financially on what is supposed to be a “vacation”. Also, I grew up in a house without cursing and screaming, where I was treated with love and respect, so perhaps I’m somewhat naive in this area. However, those things being said, it’s still no excuse.
As a parent you are responsible for the good health of your child, mental health included. And as a grown up, you just don’t get to fly off the handle at a child. You just don’t, it’s unacceptable, no if’s and’s, or but’s about it. Recently I have seen a little boy, chatting excitedly as he waits to meet his favorite character, smacked across the mouth and inundated with expletives that no one should have to hear, let alone a child. I’ve also seen a little girl, one whom I love very much, sweet and innocent as can be, spoken to and treated like an animal by her father in a gymnasium full of people when she’d done absolutely nothing wrong. (That was the second incident.) What lesson is this teaching that child? What a vicious cycle to perpetuate as they may treat others the way they feel it is normal to be treated.
The bottom line is this- speak kindly to others, because words can be extremely hurtful. If you are a parent, or have any contact with children for that matter, choose your words carefully and keep your cool. You are shaping a little life, and no child deserves to be cursed or screamed at and should never be taught that it is acceptable for them to act that way.
And to conclude my rant on a positive note, shout out to my parents for setting such a great example and thus enabling me to be a beloved aunt who (although a firm disciplinarian) can proudly say has never uttered an unkind word to the children in my life and never plan to.