28 April 2011

Who Said Words Will Never Hurt?

I never baby talked my earthlings.  I speak to them the same way I speak to any other person, no matter how young or old they are.  I always have and I am proud of it.  The only difference is that I try to censor all the bleepable words I say too much of.  I don't sugar coat things and I don't use ridiculous made-up words.  They may be children but I strive to treat them with the utmost respect I would give any other human being and part of that is never talking down to them. 

I see it too often, parents and adults talking down to children and it kills me.  Not yelling at the child doesn't necessarily mean you are communicating non violently.  The essence of what you are saying is  a hell of a lot more important and gives a more profound message.  Words are powerful tools that can also be used as weapons, we should wield them cautiously.  Putting care and thought to what you have to say should be resonated when dealing with young children.  A nasty remark would hurt a child more than a slap on the face.  The sting on his cheek will fade but that ugly thought will remain with him forever.

Some adults think it's funny or endearing but they couldn't be more wrong.  There is no amusement in shaming, ridiculing, insulting or bullying anyone.  I am embarrassed to admit that I was one of those that did the shaming, ridiculing, insulting and bullying when I was in school.  Now that I have children of my own, I am the one shamed by younger self.         

So I try.  I try to respect my children.  But too often I catch myself saying things like that's what you get, what the hell, goddammit, what were you thinking and much more.  I would need a few more posts to tell you all about it.  At least a few more.  I think we are all guilty of this, unfortunately it is one of those universal human flaws.  It must be our own insecurities as adults that lead us to pick on the most defenseless to make us feel bigger and better about ourselves.

Why, why, why in heaven's name would you call a child stupid or tanga, worthless or walang kwenta, fat  or ugly.  Why imply that they are downright stupid and create insecurities?  As parents, aunts and grandparents we should be rooting for our kids to succeed and not pulling them down.  Why insinuate that they are acting like the opposite sex and teach them malice and homophobia.  Is it so wrong for a little boy to like pink or dance like a ballerina?  I  have gay uncles who didn't exactly have it easy growing up, I would never wish that for my sons.  Why laugh about their roundness and tell them they have to go on a diet?  That's like inviting an eating disorder into your young daughter's life.  Try teaching them to eat healthy instead, ditch the junk food.  Or better yet learn together, they must have learned the not so great eating habits from you in the first place.  Why label their ideas as ridiculous and step all over their sense of self-worth?  Rejoice that they have the smarts to think up original ideas. 

This is only the beginning of a vicious cycle.  If you talk to your kids wanting of respect then they will grow up believing this is perfectly acceptable.  They will end up using the same tone, the same terms and give the same message to others.  This is how they will assert themselves to their friends, classmates, teachers and family.  The best part of all is that it will all go back to you.  If you call your child stupid, don't be surprised if they call you stupid one day.  Frankly, you deserve it.

This post was written for the Blog & Twitter Carnival: Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness.