Saturday, April 14, 2007

‘And Words Will Never Hurt Me’?

In 1985 Bob Greene, a journalist with the Chicago Tribune, wrote an article in an American newspaper about a 12 year old boy who received a card from his classmates which said, “The most unpopular student award.” Bob wrote about the tremendous emotional damage it caused the boy.

That article set off an avalanche of mail from adults who told of the lasting hurts they were carrying around as a result of childhood incidents in the home and at school. Most of these people said they were still troubled by low self-esteem. Greene entitled his column, “The Pain that Never Goes Away.”

Those who engage in counselling are familiar with the variety of damaging statements that parents make to children that put them down and make them despise themselves. Do any of these sound familiar?

If there is a wrong way to do it, you’ll find it?
What makes you so clumsy?
I can’t believe you would so such a thing?
Why can’t you be more like your sister?
What does God think about you when you do that?
Don’t let anyone know what you are really like!
Why couldn’t you have been a boy?
You have been nothing but trouble since you were born!
Can’t you do anything right?
No wonder you don’t have any friends!

What hurtful lashings we can give with our tongues.

Happy the children who are valued and affirmed, whose parents, teachers and other carers take delight in them.

Geoff Pound

Image: Some children from South America.