This weekend while standing outside of the supermarket, I observed a woman (who I assumed was the mother) speaking to another lady, in the presence of a young teenage girl. As the parking lot was full of people and cars (typical Saturday scene), I am not quite sure what caught my attention first. It could have been the words and sounds coming from the mother or the desperate cry for help screaming to me from the daughter’s eyes. The mother was taking her dear time, I mean she was putting real effort into it; to explain to the next lady how “useless” her daughter was…. and how she would not amount to anything (much stronger words were used but you get the point).
This “mother” somehow thought that this method of parenting made sense. I was not even that close to her, and I could feel the need to take cover. Woman are you serious. I am a mother too, I know there are times when you need to discipline your child in public, as kids do not always reserve their act up moments for home, I understand that there are also times when you are exhausted and frustrated and your child does something to touch that last nerve. That one special nerve that you save in case of emergency, it is the one that your sanity swings on keeping you out of jail. As a previous child myself, I know there are times when your teenagers can do something so shattering that you are disappointed and feel broken. But woman what is freaking wrong with you.
I think as humans we really have no clue about the power of our words, but as parents we just have to do better. Words can form emotional blankets around our children, shielding them from society and the harsh reality that it brings with it. Words can form ladders under our kids, allowing them to gradually climb towards their goals. Words enforce their backbone, it tells them that they are beautiful, it tells them that they are talented and that they can achieve any dream. Yes it is our responsibility to guide and discipline when necessary that is just part of our job as parents, and the method used all depends on the child and the situation.
But there is no reason that allows your frustration or fear to justify you ripping the child apart as if the two of you are two grown women fighting over a man (even that is classless in a supermarket parking lot btw). What goal could you have for telling that woman that your child is a useless so and so, and that she just like her so and so. Hello….what do you think you are accomplishing? You are in fact breaking that child’s spirit down. Society already tells her that because of her color, size, economic upbringing and gender that she will never be enough…. But no you think it is okay to bring that energy home/parking lot. You think that by throwing verbal blocks at your child’s energy that you are going to make her come “good”?
Or is it that this is the only way you know. Did your mother do this to you? Did your parents tell you that you aren’t shit and won’t be shit? How did that work for you? Did it help you develop into a positive citizen, with a strong self-esteem? I may be wrong, but I believe there are less children who survive verbal abuse than those who are able to rise up above it; especially when there aren’t enough external forces to support and motivate them.
Now I am far from being a perfect parent (girl I am so far on some days), there are times I want to go off on my kids. They are my kids, so clearly they have strong minded, adventurous and powerful personalities see that, I could have used much different words to describe them, but if I am going to ask you to be better, I have to do better myself. Unfortunately I was not strong enough in myself to reach out to that child as I stood there. I have thought of her many times since, I will continue to pray for life. But not just hers but for mother’s as well. I hope that her mother’s brokenness will be healed and allow her to reach her daughter before it is too late. I also hope that her daughter will be able to take the energy that has been thrown at her and redirect it in a way that will motivate her through life. Not to be the same as those before her but better.
How are you using your words, are they used to build or destroy?