24 May 2006

Wild Card Wednesday

Today's idea came from The Mother Load. She suggested that I blog about the significance of my words on my children.

My father rarely got cross with us as children. My mother more than made up for it, so he remained pretty laid back most of my life. On the occasion that he did get upset, we didn't always know how to interpret it. I must have been about 5 years old when I somehow upset my father and he asked me "Do you want a lickin'?" I said, "Well, sure!" - not to be sassy, but because it didn't sound threatening at all, coming from him. I guess he thought it was a pretty cute reaction, because he sort of chuckled and then we sat down at the dinner table and ate caramels. Lol. So, I thought caramels were lickins'! And it was a while before I realized what the real meaning of the word was.

Words are indeed powerful. Especially in the English language. There are so many double meanings, alternative spellings/pronunciations, and slang - which is becoming its own entity.

Our words can cause a varitey of emotions, whether or not intended. The saying "Think before you speak" comes to mind. This past Sunday, I watched a recording of our church's last worldwide conference. I do not remember the speaker's name, but he remarked that we live in a society whose trend to "think before speaking" is turning around. Not only that, but depending on the source (not necessarily a reliable one), this is often applauded, heralded, even taken as doctrine.

When I think of the impact my words have on my children, I also consider the importance my words have on them. As in, do I set a good example for them? When somebody cuts me off on the road, do I use that as a teaching moment? When the children are naughty, how do I react?

I'm sure we are all aware of how easily our tone can affect the impact of our words as well - the not-so-heartfelt apology or sarcastic remark. We also live in a digital world where email and blogging and instant messaging have replaced phone calls and hand written letters; where we decreasingly take the time to converse sincerely and convey genuine sentiment to friends and family.

It goes without saying that depending on the attitude we have in saying something, it can be quite uplifting or leave others untouched. Our words can be invaluable in the impression they leave on a child. Words can be used to persuade, impress, give perspective.

As a proud member of the digital world :P I find the purpose of inspiring others to be most important to me. What about you?


Tigersue said...

What wonderful thoughts. I have enjoyed the benefits of media and how it has let me meet people I would have never known. (like you)

I also miss the art of conversation and writing letters. Not that I was ever a great writer, but I find myself on the odd occasion penning a note to a friend. I do it because I know how it feels to get that letter in the mail. I keep and cherish them. On the other hand I very rarely print off and save an email. Kind of sad isn't it.

The Mother Load said...

Great Post! I definitely believe in those teaching moments. Last school year, my son was bit by another boy in the classroom during a party with several parents there. Every parent screamed in horror and said they would be ranting and raving in the office that this child be punished. I chose to make it a teachable moment. I brought my son to the nurse (which should of course be the first concern) and then left the job of disciplining to the school administration. We (my son & I) then went to the office to talk it over with them. I was not going to start screaming for the child to be punished, all I thought of was what would that tell my child to do in situations like this. I chose to instead talk to the "biter", that things like that should not be done to anyone and especially friends. That he owed him an apology and had to serve his punishment that the principal saw fit, but it didn't mean that they couldn't make up and be friends. I felt like Donkey on Shrek "Because that's what friends do, they forgive each other!" I thought about the consequences of what may have happened had a overreacted. It could have led to ill feelings between my son and the boy and the mother and myself. It was just not worth it.

Gabriela said...

Hi Lei. I have been thinking a lot about this topic lately. There's a great article in the March Ensign about how we talk to our kids that has been weighing heavily on me. I'm going to find the talk that you mention, I can't remember who it was either. No words of wisdom here, only that I agree with you as to the importance of our words.

Maine Mom said...

I finally read your Two for Togetherness meme, thanks for playing! I thought it was a fun meme to do.

I envy people who have good communication skills and who can think of words to say at any moment. I have a hard time thinking of things to say, until after the moment has passed. I'm much better at writing. I do think our words have a big impact on others and I'm very careful about what my children hear around our home.

Jane said...

I loved your thoughts about this.

I have really been thinking about my thoughts and the things I say. I love the example of the Genie and the magic lamp, and when asked for a wish he would answer "As you wish" I remind myself and my dh when we are putting out negative thoughts of "as you wish". I am trying so hard to be positive and to create a positive enviroment just by my thoughts and the words I say to my family. It is amazing what you can create just by being positive.

You are a wonderful example of one with a positive attitude. You have overcome many trails in your life because of this.

Nettie said...

I think you do a great job of inspiring others! I am very grateful for words and the way they bless my life. I do think there are so many more words trying to get our attention now than ever before, and that we really do have to seek after good words, both in what we read and listen too, and in what we say.

Stephanie said...

I love your attitude.

I agree wholeheartedly. The part you wrote about our tone and thinking before you speak is something I need to pay attention to. I have a tendency to anger easily and I need to stop it. My tone is quick to rise.

I have learned that how you listen to those words is just as important as saying them. Listening intently to a child telling you about her day, or a tired husband after a long day at work, or a two-year old tell you a story that only the best of linguists can understand can only strengthen a relationship. I want them to be able to tell me those words forever. If I listen to them with out condescension or judgments, they can trust me with those words. I truly treasure that.

Zoe said...

Lei, I am such a loser. I am so sorry that I never did your tag. I have been so busy. :( I hope that you can forgive me! :)

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