Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.
How do you speak to your children?
How do your children speak to you?
I’m bringing this up after having one of the most frustrating conversations I’ve had in years.
The conversation was frustrating in part, after listening to an interview with a black rapper.
I have nothing to say about the person or the industry of rap.
At least not in this article.
I’m only interested in the English language used.
…or should I say lack thereof.
I had to look this crap up.
- Benji ($100 bill)
- Brass (money)
- Scrilla (cash)
- Scrappa (cash…what happened to Scrilla?)
- Dibs (money…I thought it was Brass?)
- Handbag (money…so now the handbag has Dibs??)
- Measures (money…because you stole the handbag???)
- Bag of Sand ($1000)
- Sheckles (money…oh for…could someone make up their $#@#! mind?!!)
- Ton ($100 ….I guess it got stollen from Benji.)
- Stack ($1000…stacking the sand, maybe?)
- Feddie (money…this has just gone beyond stupid, IMO)
- Rack ($1000…I give up)
I could not, for the life of me, figure out WHY someone would talk this way, especially when it pollutes the flow of communication.
Then again, maybe that’s the point?
The conversation I was having with one of my children was simple:
Please say what you mean, and in a clear, concise way that I can understand.
I’d asked a question, asking for a commitment to do something for their mother.
“Yep,” was all I got.
“Yep is not yes,” I replied calmly. “Yes, means yes. So will you do that for mom?”
“Sure is not yes,” I repeated myself, “Yes means yes. So will you do that for mom?”
“What’s the big deal?”
“The big deal is that I’m asking for a straightforward commitment from you. I’m asking for your word. I do not speak gibberish. Neither should you. This is yes or no….not yep, sure, uh-huh, kinda or you bet. When you’re asked to sign your name to something, what do you do?”
There was a pause.
“I sign my name, duh.”
I gasped. “What? You don’t sign it Spiderman? Superman? Batman?”
“I’m sorry,” I correct myself, “You’re an X-men fan. My mistake. You don’t sign Wolverine? Cyclops? Colossus? Nightcrawler?”
“Of course not!”
“Because those aren’t my names!”
I smile. “Exactly. And yep and sure are not yes. Yes means yes. So…will…you…do…that for mom?”
With a heavy sigh, “Yes.”
Being Extreme: Me For Caring or You For Not?
The world we have is largely our fault.
You realize that, don’t you?
No, I didn’t go out and teach that rapper how to talk the way he does.
I’m betting you didn’t either.
But do we hold our own kids to a standard?
Do we encourage others to change by our own example and expecting more from one another?
In my home, the older teens and young adults who come to visit don’t use that garbage slang in my presence.
Because I simply don’t acknowledge it.
I don’t encourage it, I don’t listen to it.
If they choose to communicate with me, or in my presence, they do so in English.
Now before you and I have a Barney [TRANSLATION: a loud or violent argument], let me explain something important.
This isn’t about rap.
This isn’t about someone wanting to create a new language.
I’m a fiction writer and created my own languages—so how is that any different than a rapper?
I’m not being a hypocrite here.
Youth LOVE coming to my home and there is a LOT of teasing and teaching going on when they do.
My only point here is that we have to be careful with the words we use with our children.
Because when we become lax, a rift opens.
Small problems can become extreme.
A divide can develop between generations.
Taking The Example Home
One of the struggles I have as a parent is pointing out common words which twist reality in a conversation.
Words that justify a falsehood.
‘You ALWAYS do that!’
‘I NEVER get what I want!’
‘You CAN’T do that!’
‘That’s not FAIR!’
Any of those words look or sound familiar in your own conversations?
Ever find yourself in a corner, with a child using those words, refusing to listen to what you have to say?
Diffuse those words first.
What about those words when you use them with your little ones?
“ALWAYS do [insert instruction here]!”
“NEVER do that again!”
“CAN’T you see [insert unintended insult here]?!?”
“It’s not FAIR of you to [insert accusation here]!”
TIPS For Better Communication
Take a deep breath.
All of this takes practice, but I promise you’ll get it.
What’s ever better, is that life will transform as you make this a habit.
Here are some simple tips to start improving your communications:
Get on your child’s level. That means if you have a 2 yr old, get down on your knees when you talk to them. It makes a HUGE difference in their acceptance.
Keep your tone peaceful, consistent and calm.
Be aware of your body language. Don’t loom, or encroach in the personal space of your child, unless they’re exceptionally little and have a hard time focusing. For my little boy, I get down on my knees, smile at him and lift his chin with a, “Hey, can you look at Daddy please?”
Speak with love and respect. This isn’t catering to your child, it’s teaching by example. I can come to ANY of my children when they’re snapping and say, “Woah there. How am I talking with you? Am I snapping at you? No, I’m not. Do me the courtesy and have some respect like I’m showing you, alright?” (works EVERY time for me)
Be clear in the words you use. Mean what you say, say what you mean. It doesn’t have to be loud, cruel or crude. If you speak English, use correct English. Spanish, French, German, the rule is the same.
If you’re going postal after this article, don’t be a fart-knocker, leave a comment below. Remember, I’m your Home-Skillett.
[TRANSLATION: If this extraordinary article has made you upset, avoid looking like a blazing idiot and leave a comment below. Remember, I’m your close friend and I care.]