Memos from the Middle

Smack-Dab in the Middle of Motherhood

Speak Good

Remember when that school bully used to taunt you for wearing glasses, being super-duper skinny, or having Payless gym shoes? Remember running home from the bus stop with tears in your eyes? Remember complaining to some parent or equally influential adult? Remember that person saying, “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words should never hurt you”? Well, I do, but I also remember feeling totally invalidated, at least momentarily, because, frankly, words did hurt. They hurt a lot. And they seemed to hurt even more when there was an audience hearing that bully say those hurtful things to me.

I’m so, grateful, though, that I had people in my life whom I could call up, cry on, and vent to in an attempt to relieve stress and bolster my self-esteem. I’m so glad that for every bully in my life, there were at least ten supporters. I’m so honored that God’s grace landed so squarely on my life that I had parents who weren’t the ones tearing me down at every turn, taking the place of the school bully right there in the home.

There’s some good speaking going on here! (from http://www.askkissy.com)

Almost every time I’m out with my girls, people say things like, “I love the way you interact with your kids,” or “It’s so nice to see a mother talking to her children, not screaming at them,” and I wonder why this is such a rare sight that people are compelled to comment on it. Then I get angry because I realize that a lot of what we see in our community can be directly attributed to the language kids hear in the home from “loved” ones. Then I become sad because I realize that not every child has what I had or what my children have. I want to smack that mother at McDonald’s who called her son a “punk ass bitch” because he cried and that mother in the grocery store who called her daughter a “dummy or something” because she got the wrong box of cereal. More than that, though, I want to say…

I speak good unto my children because if I don’t no one else will.

I speak good unto my children because I want them to speak good unto others.

I speak good unto my children because there is power and words, and I want their power to come from a good place.

I speak good unto my children because they didn’t ask to be here, and it’s my job to provide a loving, safe atmosphere for them.

I speak good unto my children because people spoke good unto me, and that model has made me the hard-working, self-sufficient woman I am today.

I speak good unto my children because they need to know how people should treat them, refusing to settle for mates, friends, or associates who berate or abuse them.

I speak good unto my children because I honor them as people, not as possessions here to do my bidding.

I speak good unto my children because they posses intellect that I must cultivate to ensure that they are successful in life.

I speak good unto my children because God has blessed me with children when so many other women can’t have any.

I speak good unto my children because I want them to feel valuable.

I speak good unto my children because when a child is cursed, he tends to curse others.

I speak good unto my children because I refuse to be responsible for their doom.

I speak good unto my children because a mother’s love is a most significant love.

I speak good unto my children because they’ll realize that their character and personal strength is most important in life.

I speak good unto my children because too many babies are killed and kill because they don’t feel good about themselves.

I speak good unto my children because I want them to value human life.

I speak good unto my children because it will make it easier for them to steer clear of phonies and manipulators.

I speak good unto my children because I love them too much to hurt them.

I speak good unto my children even when others aren’t watching because it’s the quietest moments that people remember the most.

I speak good unto my children because it’s the right thing to do.

But I don’t actually say any of this. Instead, I smile politely to those who compliment me and shake my head sadly at those who frustrate me. I grab my babies hands and give a little squeeze, letting them know that I love them more than words could ever express, and I whisper, “Mommy is so proud of the wonderful little ladies you both are becoming.”

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4 thoughts on “Speak Good

  1. The worst for me was seeing a black woman tell her crying son “Man the fuck up” followed by “Niggas don’t cry”. It was painful to witness the kind of man she was turning him into. I would also like to add that some people think it’s good parenting to say this to children; “Do as i say not as i do”. That’s really smart considering that about 90% of what children learn is through sight. If some of us only knew what we were turning our children into.

    • A speaker said at an educational conference that children learn the most before age four and that even if they learn trauma or neglect or abuse at those ages, that’s how they tend to deal with the world outside their homes. It seems like a lot of kids are stepping foot out of the house with this “knowledge,” huh?

  2. Well said! Over the past year I have been focused on trying to be a better parent. I have not been extreme and screaming certain things at my kids but I have a lifetime of old fashioned parenting to get out of my system. In other words, not speak to my kids the way my mom spoke to me. It’s true that if I/we don’t “speak good to them” no one else will.

    • Parenting is a process, and children are quite forgiving. The key, I think, is to consciously make that effort to do good by the little ones we love, especially when we (or our rearing and examples) aren’t necessarily kid-centered. I’m sure you’re doing a wonderful job as a parent because you are reflective about the task.

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