When my 3 girls were very little and started attending school, I would be brutally faced by the harsh reality, that the world was not always a happy or fair place. Yes, young and naive, I was. I would rather say; hopeful. Hopeful of the dream that no one would hurt or harm them, that they would be well-liked and loved by all and no harsh words would ever enter their tiny little ears. Yes, okay, naive is an understatement! There would be days, difficult days that caused sleepless nights. Days that they would come home, in tears, because someone had called them a name and had bullied them. Then as any "good" mom would do, damage control would ensue. I would try to pump them up with compliments and accolades, but as you and I both know, mom's opinion carries little weight to the kids in class. And as with anything in this world, including bullying and name-calling, there is nothing new under the sun. Some things unfortunately will never change.
However in our household, even prior to having children, my husband and I, though we would fight, we had this unspoken agreement that we would never "punch below the belt," meaning, no matter how heated the argument, we would never call names. Now let me preface with, even though we have been married for 25 years this year, our marriage has been far from perfect. Those 25 years have been filled with a multitude of ups and downs, laughter and tears, births, sicknesses and deaths and struggles galore. I won't tell you how many kitchen cabinets I have slammed in my fits of "silent treatments" to him. Oh how awful! Cabinet slamming and silent treatments, thank goodness, are now a thing of the past. I think our fighting style has evolved as he understands what I need and vice versa. Maybe we have just come to realize, understanding is the goal, more the goal, than being "right." Being "right" is ego and ego never wins. Maybe it's also the old adage, "older and wiser."
Someone once asked us the secret to our marriage and this was one of my true core beliefs: no name calling. It all boils down to keeping and maintaining respect, even within, especially within, the perimeters of an argument.
Plus, minimizing the loopholes, which my children, while growing up, tried to pull. "No mom, I said, she was acting like a jerk. I didn't actually call her a jerk."
Also, know this is not just a lateral abuse, as peer to peer or adult to adult, issue. To me, the very worse case scenario, is one of parent, adult, teacher name-calling to a child or a child verbally abusing a parent or grandparent. I have unfortunately witnessed this numerous times and have, upon occasion, interjected in a non-evasive or offensive way. I could not witness something so sad and foul and remain silent. And though I may stop this one incident, my mind can't help but wonder, if this is their best behavior in public, what must life be like for them behind closed doors?
We all know that, words hurt. Once they're spoken, the seem to resonate deep within us and no amount of remorseful apologies, gifts or compliments can negate them. Hurtful words, in the heat of the moment, can divide and destroy. They will be remembered at the next argument and will affect and infect us to an even deeper level. Time may heal, but the mind never forgets. The remedy? As far as it depends on you, never speak hurtful words at all, and all the while, you will be leading your kids by example, teaching them an invaluable lesson and skill. Words do hurt; so please, choose them wisely.
"Sticks and stones may break your bones, but your words, really will, hurt me."