Saturday, March 22, 2014

How Our Words Affect Others


By James Dobson

"Words are so easy to utter, often tumbling out without much reason or forethought. Those who hurl criticism or hostility at others may not even mean or believe what they have said. Their comments may reflect momentary jealousy, resentment, depression, fatigue, or revenge. Regardless of the intent, harsh words sting like killer bees. Almost all of us, including you and me, have lived through moments when a parent, a teacher, a friend, a colleague, a husband, or a wife said something that cut to the quick. That hurt is now sealed forever in the memory bank. It stays alive year after year. Even though a person forgets most of his or her experiences, a particularly painful comment may be remembered for decades. By contrast, the individual who did the damage may have no memory of the encounter a few days later. What you say to your children, especially, has incredible staying power.

...Here's something else to remember. The circumstances that precipitate a hurtful comment for a child or teen are irrelevant to their impact. Let me explain. Even though a child pushes you to the limit, frustrating and angering you to the point of exasperation, you will nevertheless pay a price for overreacting. Let's suppose you lose your poise and shout, 'I can't stand you! I wish you belonged to someone else.' Or 'I can't believe you failed another test. How could a son of mine be so stupid!' Even if every normal parent would also have been agitated in the same situation, your child will not focus on his misbehavior or failure in the future. He is likely to forget what he did to cause your outburst, but he will recall the day you said you didn't want him or that he was stupid. It isn't fair, but neither is life."


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