You probably read this title and thought, “of course I watch my language around my children!”, but that’s not exactly what I mean. I’m not cautioning you from using profanity (although please don’t!). I’m cautioning you from using language and phrases that your children may misinterpret; language that could be damaging to their self-esteem.
For instance, in our home, we don’t use the phrase “gave you away” when speaking about adoption. To my children, that phrase implies their biological family did not want them and it carries a very negative association. I want my children to know they were deeply loved by their biological family and I certainly don’t want them to carry the burden of thinking they were discarded.
Likewise, it pains me when people will look at my troop of children and ask “are any of them your real kids?”. It’s almost as if people don’t know the word biological or don’t understand the magnitude of what they are saying in front of little ears. They are all my real kids! Although I did not birth them and they did not grow in my belly, they are my real kids. I woke up for 2am feedings, I cleaned skinned knees, I continue to worry about who they’ll be and what they’ll do in life – it doesn’t get much more real than that.
Often times, people don’t recognize the power of the words coming out of their mouths. I realize no harm is meant, but good intentions don’t lessen the blow of a poorly spoken word or question. Focus on the words you are saying and think twice before speaking about your children, even jokingly, especially in front of them.
Children may have little ears, but they are always listening. Even when you think you are being discreet, or even when those you are talking to know you’re kidding, your children are listening. Be respectful of their feelings and always speak kindly.
Bond with your child by never having to explain that you didn’t actually mean what you said. Show you respect them and their feelings by thinking before speaking.
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