“Sticks and stones can break your bones but names can never hurt me”!!
I don’t know how many of you have heard that phrase, but it was a common one when I was growing up. If a child was being taunted by someone, like being called ‘stupid or ugly’ or any number of other mean things, an answer commonly given by the one being unkindly treated, was this phrase. It was supposed to infer that you can call me anything but it won’t matter. That was to supposedly show that you weren’t hurt and so hopefully you would be then left alone.
We all know though, that words do matter. If kind words are said it can encourage, lift up and give a person a feeling of well-being and self-worth.
On the other hand, a harsh or unkind word, can deflate, demean and generally make a person feel down-hearted, embarrassed or worse. Of course we know that in the extreme such as bullying or constant verbal abuse, there can be dire consequences. Mainly today I’m talking about the everyday kind of occurrence that often happens without thought or necessarily an intention to hurt.
Sometimes it can be from someone who loves you, and you know doesn’t mean it. It can be as casual as contradicting you in front of someone else, or of making fun or light of something you said. It can be teasing that while not intending to hurt you, nonetheless does. It can be something said about something you’re wearing or the way your hair looks, again not intending to sound critical but by saying an off-hand comment, can all of a sudden make you doubt yourself. Instead of feeling good, instead you now feel unattractive and deflated.
This not only relates to adults, but to our children as well. Sometimes we think that children don’t take in the times we correct them in public to the extent that it is embarrassing to them. Of course from time to time, in teaching them to be polite etc. we may gently remind them about their ‘please and thank you’ manners, but what I’m talking about is something that makes a child feel humiliated and especially if it is pointed out in front of someone else. Some things are meant to be discussed in private.
I watched in dismay one day in a store, when a small child of about 4 or so, asked her mother to buy something for her. Instead of just saying no to the child, and moving on; the mother started yelling and saying how selfish the child was for asking, and all the reasons she shouldn’t have asked. One might say that she didn’t really mean it, and maybe was just under pressure, and maybe that could have been the case, even though I felt it not to be….. but whatever the reason, I felt so sorry for that little one looking and listening to her ‘mommy’, and not understanding why she was so upset.
I think that we forget that some people are perhaps sensitive, and may even be insecure in some areas of their life, and to try and just remember, ‘words can and do hurt’; and to attempt to catch ourselves before we ever utter any that could crush a person’s spirit…!
Forgiveness though I must add is a wonderful trait, and we do need to try and do so, and children for the most part are very forgiving too, especially to ‘mommy and daddy’ !