Hurting Your Children With Words

I‘ve been having trouble finding time to sit down and write a blog post.  It isn’t because I don’t know what to write about, heaven knows my mind is just whirling with ideas; I just didn’t know where to start.

While waiting at the airport on our way to our vacation in Ireland, I happened to hear a mother talking to her young son.  The boy must have been around 3 or 4 and very active.  The mother was trying to keep an eye on their luggage as the father waited in line to get whatever information they needed and she was getting frustrated with trying to get her son to sit still.  Finally, out of desperation, I heard her say rather loudly to this young child – IF YOU DON’T SIT DOWN AND BE QUIET, MOMMY AND DADDY ARE GOING TO GET ON THE PLANE BY OURSELVES AND LEAVE YOU ALL ALONE AT THE AIRPORT – DO YOU WANT TO BE LEFT ALONE.  Needless to say, his response was a series of cries and whimpers about not wanting to be left alone including a meltdown on the floor, and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him.

I watched the scene and thought of the old saying – It’s not what you say, It’s how you say it, and I thought about my own life growing up and how now, as an adult,  I have been affected by things said to me over the years.  I grew up hearing things like – If I could do it all over again, I would have gotten a dog – they would have been easier to take care of or get out of my sight, I can’t stand to look at your face. I think the worst comment, which affected me the most, was one made by a family friend.  Now they didn’t say this to my face, but I was told they had said it.  They said I wasn’t a pretty girl, but I had a beautiful smile.  That one little comment did more damage to me as a person than anyone could imagine.  I have spent my entire life thinking I was unattractive, not thinking I was pretty, hating the way I looked.  I never felt like I belonged and even though I managed to hide my sadness with a smile or a joke, inside I hated myself.  I felt like I didn’t matter, I was worthless.  Going through High School was painful, and I spent many a day crying inside.

As I grew older and started thinking about my future, every career choice I wanted to pursue was put down and I was basically told I couldn’t do them.  I wanted to go into Advertising but never got any support.  I wanted to go into Social Work and help people but was talked out of that.  I was expected to follow in another family member’s footsteps.  I didn’t want to, so I went into the only thing I thought I could do – Secretarial.  Although it has been good as a career, it was never my passion.

What is my passion?  Sadly at 58, I am still trying to figure that out.  I have begun writing, something I have always been interested in and it has helped me tremendously in my daily life.  I might not be very good at it, but I enjoy it and right now that is more important to me.

I am sure some of you are thinking, why didn’t you make a change when you grew up.  Well, not as easy as it sounds.    Lacking confidence in myself has been a significant hindrance.  I got married, not really out of love.  There may have been love at the beginning, but I soon realized we were different, but  I wanted the house and white picket fence, and I figured no one else would want to marry me, so I got married.  After that, I wanted to be the best wife possible.  I thought a good wife stood behind her husband and supported him.  So I did. My dreams took a back seat to his career.  I had my children, and that seemed to be the only thing I was good at, so again my dreams and aspirations took a back seat to motherhood.  After that, divorce got in the way and by the time I remarried a man who supported me and believed in me, I felt it was too late.  My husband constantly has to remind me that I am beautiful and that I am smart and I am important.  I fight a battle inside myself every day, trying to convince myself I am worth something.

I look back on my life now, and I get angry. Why didn’t I take a stand, why didn’t I make a difference – Well, when you lack confidence and self-esteem – you just can’t.  You are always second-guessing yourself.

I made sure I didn’t make the same mistake with my children.  They are now in their twenties, and I have continually told them, throughout their lives, that I love them, that they are worth something, that they can do anything they want.  I have told them that  I would never stand in their way of a career, regardless of what they want to do, (within reason of course), and I have told them to reach for the stars and never stop trying and that they are beautiful, and they are special.

As for me, I cope.  Some days are better than others but the words are still in my mind after all these years, and they still hurt, some days more than others.

So parents, think twice before you blurt something out, even though at times it is hard because you are frustrated, exhausted or angry. Words that you say today will leave in imprint for years to come.  They may be just words, but they can cause a lot of damage.

Children don’t ask to be born; we bring them into this world.  So, therefore, they deserve the best that we can give them.  They deserve to feel loved, to feel beautiful, to feel like they are wanted and most of all to feel that no matter what they do, they will never be left alone in an Airport.

It's not what you say; It's how you say it

16 Replies to “Hurting Your Children With Words”

  1. I always thought of you as an attractive girl, Karen and above all friendly and intelligent. You’re right we don’t know what words can do to hurt as a child and I was also on the end of unkind and hurtful words by a family member years ago. Those words stuck with me all my life until I finally realized I wasn’t the person they said I was and they were wrong. You are so lucky to have found a passion in your writing – an expression of you and from your blog’s and fb posts – shows you to be a happy and grateful woman. I am glad to know you!

  2. Words can hurt more than anything as they stay in our mind for a very long time. Even though I’m a grown up now I still remember things said to me when I was younger and it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever forget.

  3. Oh how I understand u… unfortunatelly I’m going through what u were going too but I see it now and I want to change… I’m glad u now have a husband who supports u!

  4. I can relate to this so much, the words that our parents say to us as children and even into our teens can affect our adult life, luckily for me I’ve decided that when I have children I’ll treat the opposite of how I was treated because I know how it feels to not feel loved or important.

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