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Words Can Hurt

When we first started having children, like most people, we realized quickly how they often work as a mirror to our own actions. Letting a swear word slip here or there was not uncommon in our home, yet, when our first child was about 18 months or so, and hearing my swear word echo in the house for several days from her little lips, well, it was enough to curb my speech, dramatically.

And now, swear words are never spoken in front of the children, and we have adopted a few more words that are unacceptable in the house, even though common place in the world. Just another example at how, as parents, we truly are the domestic church. The world may be on the path of negativity, but the home is where we make the difference.

My four year old the other day, said, "I hate tomatoes!" Not the worst thing to hear from her mouth, granted, however, the word 'hate' bothers me a lot. 'Hate' is a very strong word, opposite of 'Love'. Think of how strong that word, 'love' is, and you have the opposite, being just as filled with emotion, just negative emotions: anger, frustration, dislike etc...

My nine year old the other day, said, "Oh, geez, don't be so stupid. That joke wasn't funny." That's another one: 'stupid'. I have never allowed my kids to call anything or anyone stupid. It just invokes such negative emotion, judgement on others, as well as condemnation.

My 6 year old the other day, said, "This drawing is ugly." 'Ugly'. I can't even think, right now, as I type, what I legitimately can say is ugly. Certainly some crimes I have heard from the news can be described as ugly, however, using that word in describing anything else seems harsh. I never would approve of my children saying someone or something is ugly. There can be good, just, pleasant, something positive in just about everything, with the exception of crime and sin, I suppose.

There are probably more that we watch for in our home, however, the last and probably the most important speech we quickly curtail would be SARCASM. I can not tolerate sarcasm. It's the ultimate lie. You are saying something with such disdain, that the truth is buried beneath defenses and disrespect. Our home should be an open place to be honest, even painfully honest if necessary. I'd rather have the hard, painful truth not the sting of sarcasm. Sarcasm often denotes defense mechanisms at work in the protection of self. It hurts sometimes to be honest. I hurts, sometimes, to be open, vulnerable, at the mercy of others' judgements. Sarcasm can mask insecurities, pain, issues not dealt with. Thankfully, my kids haven't hit the teens years, when I fear I'll hear sarcasm.....but hopefully, if we instill in them, that freedom to be open and honest now, those teen years will also be a time of hearing painful truths and not the harshness of sarcasm.

How words can hurt! I think, as a society we need to remember, there are more words outside of swear words that can hurt just as badly.

Also, as I write this, something else comes to mind...the distinct separation of good and bad....even in the words we choose. In the secular world, sometimes it's difficult to tell the good from the bad. Even in movies, you'll see the devil, evil character is dressed well, handsome, well-mannered etc. For children to be formed in this most important character development: namely, the skill to determine good from evil, it comes down to even these simple word choices. Are they allowed to name something ugly or stupid, and condemn someone, which we know to be sinful? Are they allowed to use words that express the same emotions that rage from evil? Are they allowed to use deception in their speech, ultimately lying in the form of sarcasm?

Children, from a young age, can be surrounded by wholesome language, in the effort that, when the time comes, that they hear such negative words out in the world, they'll quickly know something is wrong here. That is forming that delicate conscious, it is forming them in such a way, that when the day comes, that they have to make decisions for themselves, they will be open to hear not only the Holy Spirit guiding them, but their own little voice inside, that says, this is wrong.

Fast forward to one of my little girls being old enough to date. Picture all is well, he seems like a decent guy, and then he uses words like stupid, ugly, hate or the ultimate weapon: sarcasm. Now, he's not swearing, he's using words we all have heard a thousand times. But, it's a big but, she'll know, like a rock, there is something wrong.

And truthfully, I'd rather she detect a problem earlier than later. It takes work on our part, as SAHMoms, to form these delicate consciouses, but one day, I honestly, believe, giving her this most delicate conscious will serve her greatly in her future, whatever that may be.

There are countless ways to form a delicate conscious in children...teaching them words can hurt, is just the beginning.


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