I took a page from Joy T’s blog and did some eavesdropping today. It wasn’t at a coffee shop like she so eloquently described but at a MacDonald’s Play Land. Not as romantic, of course. The people you get to eavesdrop on will most likely be parents of young children. That’s my world, though.
I was sitting there watching the kids…and freezing incidentally because they didn’t have heating in there for some reason! Beside me were two moms. They were talking about an incident at playschool. The first mom had overheard a child calling someone else stupid. As she was recounting this story, the second mom gasped. “How terrible! We don’t allow that word in our home”. The first mom agreed.
This exchange got me thinking of similar conversations I’ve had with my mom friends about “forbidden words”. Another one typically outlawed is “hate”. It’s not that I disagree with not allowing our children to use these words, but I wonder if forbidding them is a little…silly. I mean, does doing so magically make the words cease to exist? I guess it isn’t much different then swear words. I certainly don’t allow my children to say those.
I do think, though, that instead of focusing on a particular word said by our children we ought to find out what motivated them to say it in the first place. Validating their feelings of frustration, anger, or fear is more effective then having a knee jerk reaction of “We don’t allow that can’t of talk, mister”. It’s a sure way to cut off communication with our kids, I think. Of course, after we hear them out I think we can discuss more appropriate vocabulary for expressing ourselves.
Words are powerful, and there are plenty of negative words out there. Sometimes, we feel pretty negatively about things, though. Some things are stupid…some people can act stupidly. No, I don’t support name calling, by the way. I always talk about how our actions and words can effect how people around us feel. I don’t feel hatred very often, but sometimes I do. I hate tea bags being left in the sink and clogging up the drain, for instance. I really hate it when my internet is down or slow like it is right now…grrr! I wouldn’t appreciate someone stomping in and telling me that I can’t express that emotion. There is that whole issue of time and place, too, though.
In the end, I wonder if it’s that we’re uncomfortable with the negative language our children sometimes use or if we’re more uncomfortable with the negative emotions they sometimes feel.