The words we use on our children matter a lot. We can use words to either delight or displease them; or use words to heal or hurt them. Sometimes we use words angrily, other times we use them quite innocently. Even when we use words in innocent ways, we may not know that such words could actually harm our sons and daughters in the long run.
Some words stay with a child as he or she grows up. Some words find a way into our children’s heads or minds, shaping the kind of adult they would become eventually. If one keeps telling a girl she is a fool, there’s a chance that she will grow up believing she is one. Or even acting like a fool, indeed.
Words are neither completely innocent nor empty. Words have meaning, and it’s very important we know what kind of words to use on our children, we learn to use the right words when addressing children – whether we are telling them off or speaking our mind whenever we feel upset or let down by their actions or errors.
I remember watching a father telling his son to stop crying like a girl. I also remember hearing a mother telling her son, ‘Don’t you know you’re a boy – so why are you crying like a girl?’
Words like these have a long-term damaging effect on boys. When we utter such words, three or four things happen:
One, we are telling boys that crying is for girls. Don’t do it.
Second, we are telling them that any boy crying is weak and soft. Be strong, be hard.
Third, we are saying that crying is shameful. Something every boy should be ashamed of.
Four, we are saying that boys are emotionally different from girls. Boys don’t have emotions, girls do.
But we cannot deny the truth that both girls and boys, men and women, do experience emotions. Emotions are part of our human make-up: sadness, joy, love, anger, depression, loss, we experience each of these at different times, etc.
Therefore, when we tell boys to stop crying, we are conditioning them to hide their emotions. In time, boys stop themselves from crying openly. They begin to develop thick skin. They harden themselves and by so doing, they begin to dislike any boy who can’t help but cry if he has to.
Sadly enough, these boys grow up with this terrible mindset, harming not only themselves but other boys as well. You hear them telling each other, ‘Be a man, man up, stop acting like a woman,’ because while growing up they have been made to see crying as something no boy should be found doing. Some of these boys end up becoming bullies, or brutes, having long been socialised to act not like a girl, but hard.
In fact, what is wrong with a boy crying?
I remember attending a health seminar and the medical doctor reported that out of every 10 women he had diagnosed only 2 usually suffered high blood pressure. As for men, he discovered that 8 out of 10 were nursing high blood pressure. I found it alarming, but he said women tend to cry if they have to, but men, well, they bottle up emotions, however damaging, and live with the dreadful consequences.
So words are packed with meaning, some positive, some negative. We cannot determine how our sons or daughters will turn out eventually, given the pull of peer pressure and social influence, but at least we can decide what words we use on them to help them grow well emotionally.