Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Power of Words

Several years ago, I saw something at my son's school that was extremely disturbing to me.

A man was berating his wife on the phone while is son stood there, looking as belittled as his mother must have felt.

He stood there screaming at her for being "so stupid", "dumb", etc.

I nearly started crying as I looked at the boy, wondering what to do.

I left my son in the car and went to the boy. I could hear all of his side of the conversation so I knew he was angry because she had not planned for childcare for the boy while they attended his parent-teacher conference.

I gave him some affection and interrupted the father to tell him I could take the boy with me. We had an extra car seat and were headed to the mall and lunch before heading to a class birthday party.

He agreed with little fanfare. I took the boy and got him into the car. I gave him a hug and asked him if he was OK. He looked shaken.

This boy was always the "problem child" in class, and this day confirmed something for me that I have always felt. When children act out, something is going on at home.

I had never seen this side of the boy. I had always seen him as the boy who got into trouble, who often did and said things I did not like.

While he was with me that afternoon, however, he was such a sweet little darling. He took my hand at the mall and seemed to blossom with the attention and kindness.

As soon as his mother joined us for lunch, the boy returned back to his rambunctious self. I was sad to see the other boy leave.

I found out later that the man was a counselor who deals with abused women. I found that extremely ironic.

This morning I got a sweet message from that woman on Facebook. I went to her page, which I had not visited yet. In the "About Me" section, she had written, "I am not very smart, but..."

Some of us as women know our worth and words do not affect us. They may sting when they are voiced by someone we love, but we know they are not true.

It was clear to me this morning that this woman had internalized everything and now believes she is stupid.

I believe we evolve (hopefully) into strong beings that will not tolerate abuse. Eventually we do not attract it anymore, it does not even come into our realm.

But I was also reminded this morning of the importance of words and the importance of using them wisely.


  1. The world is a better place because of mothers like you. My girls would be thrilled to go to lunch with you.

  2. I feel for that woman and her child. I can't imagine how her husband, in his line of work, can behave that way towards them. My mother would say similar disparaging things about herself...well, no, make that she does say disparaging things about herself, all the time. And she hasn't had a husband berating her, nor a parent. It's a very hard thing to grow up with (I mirrored her for years) and now, as an adult who (almost) never does that to myself anymore, it's very hard to hear her still doing it to herself.

  3. Laurie in ColoradoApril 22, 2010 at 7:09 PM

    The world is a better place because of mothers like you. My girls would have loved to go with you and enjoy lunch and your kiddos.

  4. I'd love to have lunch with your girls Laurie - and you!

  5. I think as a woman, it is hard to hear other women put themselves down like that, especially your mother. It's like a collective insult.