You’re worthless, you won’t amount to anything. I wish you were pretty. How can you be so stupid? Don’t be so lazy. You’re so weak. If you had a brain in your head…
Words that hurt. Words that tear down. Do any of these words ring a bell? How do words affect us? How do they affect our children?
We cannot stop other people’s destructive words toward our children, but we can guard our own. Before we speak, we should measure our words with “how would this make me feel?” Many people that struggle with a poor self image have carried destructive words from their parents into adulthood. In Christian Social Graces, I approach the subject of self and social image in more detail helping us realize where poor self image has its root.
“The concepts that were programmed in us as children many times carry through into our adult lives. A child who was neglected, or consistently told he was worthless, has a very difficult time believing otherwise as an adult. On the other hand, a child who is secure in his parent’s love and told how special he is will be more confident and sure, believing he has value” (Pg.12).
Why are parent’s words so powerful? Because our children love us. They trust us. In the formative years they don’t have a grasp on how fallible we really are. They think we are perfect. They want to be like us. So our words are like gospel to them. They take them to heart. They are stamped on their minds forever. Good words stay with them, but if mean and harsh words outweigh the good ones, they will remember the negative.
What words should we leave with our children and grandchildren? Think about it. If we could create a memory right now, what image would we want our grandchild to remember years down the road when we are gone? Wouldn’t we like to give them hope, courage, and self worth? They need our good words. They need words that edify rather than nullify.