Whoever coined the phrase “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me,” must never have loved anyone…or had anyone love them.
When it comes to criticism by our peers, just acquaintances or people we interact with as ‘ships that pass in the night’ carry only fleeting influence on us. Oh, we may question ourselves, our actions or our motives if we hear some stranger “hating on us”, but unless it’s a glaring observation of a shortcoming, their words really don’t hit us where it hurts.
If, on the other hand, someone whom we love dearly even hesitantly brings up an issue, past or present, that they have with us…well, now…that’s an entirely different story.
Parents get this a lot, once their children are grown. I will hold myself up as a prime example.
I have always tried to watch my words and would never hurt someone’s feelings on purpose (it has happened, but only a few times in 60 years…I’m not saying that makes it acceptable), but apparently I have failed more times than I thought, and not with just one or two of my kids, but with all of them. And not just intermittently, but often enough to warrant them bringing it to my attention.
It hurt for them to bring this to bear, but my pain was nothing but just a faucet drip compared to the downpour of horror…the awful feeling I had that I’d hurt my own childrens’ feelings, whether it was when they were young or now that they are grown. I mean, I’ve never tried to convince my kids I was perfect…that would have been foolish…and I’m well aware that I’ve made some pretty bad mistakes. I had just hoped the ones I made were not bad enough to turn them into awful people.
I always felt so blessed with the children I had that the few times they gave me grief are hidden behind the cobwebs of time. As a matter of fact, between the ages of 5 and about 13-14 years old (each) I really don’t recall any issues. And each child only gave a year, if that, of rebellion!
It often bewilders me how my many children grew up to be such great men and women. I always credit God for giving them better sense than me…or even their daddy. I just hope that the few really good things I did will one day be remembered more so than the bad.
My children know that I love them and I know that they love me and that’s important. But more important is for the younger generation to always be aware that once a word is spoken, especially to those who love you, it can never be retrieved. Trust me, sticks and stones may break your bones but words can certainly harm you.
My family and I can vouch for that.