While developing our communication and language skills, we often ponder the recesses of our minds to capture our thoughts with the right words. There are certain times in life where if we are unclear or uncertain of the impact, words can have monumental consequences.
Think about the power of a short speech such as Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address or Martin Luther King Jr. with his “I Have a Dream…” speech. Words can move people to action. Words can also tear apart a person’s self esteem or self worth, especially if they don’t understand the intent behind the series of sentences or phrases used around the words.
People may not get your tone, your inflection, your sense of humor, or any number of other non-verbal nuances that can take a sentence and make the meaning completely different or unique. We’ve had to be very careful when raising our girls to not only pay careful attention to our words, but also be very clear that we make sure if they aren’t sure of what we said to clarify what they thought they heard.
We’ve run into too many situations where one daughter or the other will shut down and withdraw from us, or becoming more verbally aggressive, upon their feelings being hurt by something that was said and misinterpreted to the negative. They will take an instance where we are unhappy with their behavior and they will internalize the comment to be a direct attack on their personal character. “So you think I’m stupid/ lazy/ bad/ etc.?” can be some examples when we point out one situation where they didn’t make the best choice in their lives.
You may not think your words have an impact, but you are the greatest role model for your children. How can you expect them not to curse out the world if you are readily doing it in traffic, in the community, or while around other friends in their presence? They watch, they take in, they see how you handle yourself in the public and private eye.
We all lose our cool from time to time. It’s important though to correct your wrongs as soon as possible, especially if you expect your family to learn the power of forgiveness. My youngest daughter is starting to understand that no matter how upset you may be at someone, it’s always important to leave the evening or the morning with “I Love You” because you don’t want that regret or guilt hanging in the air if something tragic happened to the person who you are frustrated with.
We are closing ranks in our home and devoting more time to improving our interaction and communication. If that means we cut ties with modern technology for a few evenings a week, so be it. I don’t want the television, a cell phone, or a computer to have a bigger impact on their lives than the love, care, comfort and support of our family.
So watch your words and remember people can be built up or torn down through the tone and delivery of even a simple “no” or “stop”. Stay strong, stay healthy and keep up the great work in delivering great future adults to the world.