The other day I was at a baby shower for a friend of mine. A guest shows up late and loudly exclaims
“I’m sorry I’m late, but my kids were being such assholes!”
She laughs and continues on about how her children just feel the need to be “needy little bastards”. As she’s saying this she’s laughing and encouraging the other women in the group to agree with her.
I’m standing there, with a fake smile on my face, trying not to seem shocked.
You see, I have a very hard time when parents speak so negatively about their kids.
Our Thoughts Become Our Actions
Throughout my time working as a therapist, I’ve learned how powerful our thoughts are. When we attach negative thoughts to things, we will treat those things worse than if we think positively about them. This is true for ourselves, our husbands, and our kids.
If we think that our kids are assholes and bastards, we will treat them as such. We will not have as much patience, we will not be as kind, and the relationship can easily be strained because of it.
Even though I know this Mom is struggling, I can’t help but think that if she was able to change her thought patterns that she might have an easier time with her children.
“My child is not giving me a hard time. My child is having a hard time.”
It’s About Respect
For me, I try very hard to respect the people in my life. This means that I speak about them in a respectful manner.
Calling anyone in my family an asshole or bastard to someone else is not respectful at all. If I wouldn’t say those things with them standing in front of me than I won’t say it to a group of people.
The last thing I want is for people to have negative impressions of my kids before they even meet them.
If I go around calling them names and telling everyone about how horrible they are, I’m setting them up to be disliked before they even have a chance.
Sometimes We Need to Vent
I know that this Mom was just trying to vent. I get that. Parenting is hard and sometimes we need to talk about it. However, I think that it’s important to look at a few things before we start talking negatively about our kids.
Who to vent to.
Venting to a bunch of people at a baby shower, some of which were strangers, may not be the best group to vent to. At this point, I didn’t know her, I didn’t know her kids. All I saw was a Mom calling her children terrible names and thinking about how horrible her kid’s behavior must be.
If you need to vent, find a safe person who knows your kids. Someone who won’t judge you and can be supportive of you.
Vent about the behaviors, not the child.
There is a big difference between talking negatively about a child’s behaviors and calling them names. “She’s just so bossy!” “He’s such a brat!” When we talk like this, we assign them character traits, and it changes our thoughts about them. We put them, as a person, in a negative light.
Venting can actually be productive if we focus on behaviors rather than character. It’s good to talk about the behaviors in our children that we don’t like. We can talk things through, we can get advice, we can make a plan, and we can change things.
We can work on deescalating tantrums, bedtime struggles, power struggles, nasty words, not picking up toys, and a myriad of other behaviors we don’t like.
We can’t change “bratty”.
Make sure your kids aren’t around
I’ve been around several parents who talk very poorly about their children on play dates, at the park, and other play spaces when their kids are around. Some even name calling, like the mother at the shower. Their children are there. Sure, they are “playing” but you never know what children overhear.
How would you feel if you heard the person you loved the most calling you names? It would probably crush you. So don’t do it to your kids. You never know when little ears are around.
Also, when children hear themselves being labeled as “bossy” “a brat” “stubborn” “lazy” “a liar” “strong-willed” they start to own that label. They start being the “stubborn kid” that their parent has labeled them.
The Way We Talk To Our Children Becomes Their Inner Voice” -Peggy O’Mara
So I guess what I’m trying to say is, as parents, we need to be careful about what we say about our children. There is power in our words and our thoughts.
Well, said. Thank you so much for sharing your experience … and your insights.
Thanks Laura…I thought you might agree.
Thanks so much for you’re thoughts I really I think I have lost how to parent!..my first son was just so easy because there was just him ..but now I have 2 more boys and have a career that’s pretty demanding so finding it really hard to do it all with a husband who well is not very souportive.
Mum of One
I don’t think I have ever called my children names, except perhaps occasionally to the husband, but I am guilty of telling the 3 year old not to be so bossy…a lot. I really must try and stop this. A really thought provoking post. Thanks so much for linking it up to the Monday parenting #pinitparty. Have pinned.
You’re welcome. I’m glad you got something from the post.
Very insightful and just basic common sense to me. My mother and father have called me just about every name in the book from the time I was 9, and still do till this day. I am a successful business man in the healthcare industry, but still get degradedand called names on a weekly basis by my mother, my father and I haven’t spoken in years for that reason. I know not everyone believes in God , Christ and the Holy Spirit, but if it wasn’t for the word of God telling me who I truly am at 14, I might have grown up believing and accepting those labels put on me by my parents. I would have never learned that no matter how cruel they can get, just to keep being polite nice and respectful. That seems to make them alot angrier even though I am trying to teach them how to treat me hoping it’s recipricated
Wonderful post! And you know I totally agree 😉 Respect begets respect!
Thanks! Respect begets respect!
You could have been describing my oldest sister; she frequently spoke negatively of and to her daughters during their formative years. The result is that her daughters (now adults) have had to distance themselves from her. The upside is that my relationship with them has only grown stronger but she has lost the opportunity to bond with her two amazing daughters and their families.
I think one of the simplest ways to train your brain to be respectful of your children (because for some reason our society acts as if it’s acceptable to disrespect them) is to treat them the way your treat your adult friends. If you wouldn’t say something to or about your best friend you shouldn’t say it to or about your child. They are humans, equal to everyone else. In fact, for you they are not equal, they are greater than everyone else, because they came from you, they are innocent, and they are still so impressionable.
Children don’t deserve to be degraded and negated by their parents just because their parents are “having a hard time”. No. They deserve more love, gentleness and respect than anyone else in your lives. Calling them names just shows the world who the real assholes are.
Very well said, Megan! I could not agree more. We would not talk like this about our friend’s kids, so why talking like this about our kids?
It also goes too far the other way sometimes as well. When parents try to be “friends’ with their kids and lose sight of the fact that they are the parent. You can be both respectful and in charge.
I totally agree! Well said! Many need to read this. It upsets me when I hear parents disrespecting their kids by calling them a little bitch I’ve heard or bastard & yelling at them & the rude way they speak to them & I feel annoyed
Ann @ My Nearest and Dearest
Well said, Amanda. I’ll be sharing this post. As the reader above said, disrespecting our children seems to have become socially acceptable. That doesn’t sit well with me!
Well said. It’s backwards to think you have to train your brain in order not to be disrespectful to your kids. It’s all backwards, isn’t it? It seems like we treat strangers better than we do our family members.
I wonder why that is?
I know of a parent who said that their kid was just plain lazy. Can you imagine? Well, if the kid is lazy, it’s because you are telling him/her that she is lazy. Doh!
I just don’t get why parents cannot treat their kids with loving kindness. I understand that everybody has a bad day. Why should that be exclusive to adults? It’s crazy.
Thanks so much for this great post!
I really like this post. My husband and I went to a baby shower also and the late parents, brought their children but continued on about how horrible they were and had ruined their life – and the kids were there with us. We told them how much we loved our kids and were told it was because we had kids young and didn’t have time to have a life and career. Really? I was just shy of 30 so I figured it was meant as a compliment as I look so young an carefree despite having two kids at the time under 2. They aren’t the only ones though and it really saddens me as my 3 year old asks me why they say that or why the kids act that way. I swear I just don’t have an answer for them.
Thanks for your timely post.
“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” That quote, and all of this, so true. I love this post. I have little more to say than that. You are just really spot on and I appreciate your taking the time to write this. 🙂
I am a school nurse at an inner city school. I am upset when I hear parents make derogotory remarks to their children. They love their children, but seem to think it is okay or funny to call them a name. When I try to give a compliment about their child, they ask me if I want them! Of course I do! I just would love to teach these parents how to make their child feel loved and wanted. I would like to have a poster with Peggy O’Mara’s quote. I looked on her website, but did not find anything. I do not want just the words; the picture you have on the quote is adorable (without “boogers”) for my health clinic. I would also like to give them a handout of your article. This message is so needed by the disadvantaged in our communities. Let me know how I can get this message out to my parents.
I completely agree. I think we’re bound to lose our tempers more often with our kids then with adult friends, but we should at least be aware that it’s wrong when we do it and apologize. Or kids should learn how to treat other people respectfully from how we treat them.
Wow! Great advice.
I really love this! Great advise for all parents. Children learn respect from watching how their parents respect others including themselves.
I struggle with this from my husband and his family a lot and then it rubs off for sure on how I see situations when I’m frustrated. Thanks for the reminder and perspective.
Your words really spoke to me, not personally, but my sister has that problem with her children. She has three under three and another on the way. She really piled them up too close and I think that is one of the main reason she acts like this. I don’t like it, but then again they are not mine and there is only so much she will listen. Great post really. ☺
I think this is such good advice. I have one older child, 14 year old girl, and a 2 year old boy. I love them both equally, and they bring such joy to my life, and are such joys to our family. My daughter is always calling my little guy names like bratt, which I hate, she never gets called names so I am not sure where this is coming from. It is very difficult having children of such drasticlly different ages, but we manage. Any advice on how to make her understand how hurtful names can be.
Heather, I can imagine how hurtful to hear that the big sister saying names to her younger brother, I think in her mind grows jealousy, the thought of the younger brother getting full attention and care makes her angry. I would suggest you spend some time to talk to her and show your affection to her, not only parental love but on a more like counseling tune, you may like to ask her if someone calls her names like she calls names on her own brother, would she like it? I have a kid did that just this past Sunday, and immediately I asked him,” if I say to you:”XXX(the kid’s name), you are stinky! how do you feel? Do you like it?” He looked at me and seriously shake his head, I reminded him, ” If you do not like it, others do not like it too, so don’t do that to others.” Your daughter is 12, she knows very well what reasoning means to you and her, it is called parenting, parents are the one who guide them to think and behave reasonably.
Theres Just One Mommy
Powerful post — and a great reminder to us all.
I can’t imagine saying my kids were a – holes or anything even close to that. But I know I have said my daughter is “bossy” a few times…going to work on that!
Ash - Creating tomorrow's leaders
Great article, and I would add that the intensity of our language matters too. For example, saying that a child is “being needy” versus “being extra cuddly” makes a massive difference to how we view the child and how we respond.
Very good point!
Thank you. You are so right. Some of us didn’t have great parenting examples growing up so when it’s spelled out for us like that God shows us gentle parenting. I’m not all trying to be mean when I say that. I’m just very greatful! Thanks for showing me the right way to think about how to handle my children lovingly.
You’re welcome. I’m glad that this was helpful to you!
As a retired first grade teacher, I know from experience teachers often discuss a child with behavior or personality issues and then meet the parent and later say, “Well, now I understand everything”. When I hear a mother use those phrases mentioned to describe their child, I always want to say, “Hmm, where do you think s/he picked up that behavior?”
I think you’re being pretty judgemental to someone you admittedly don’t know. She could be a single Mom who does it all on her own and never gets out alone. Or maybe she is a horrible Mom. You dont know. I’d never call my kids names to their faces and I don’t assign them titles like bossy. Just as I dont judge others based on something from one day, I dont judge my kids off of how they act on a bad day. One of the best moms I know has admitted that some days she wants to sell her kids. And some of the “nicest” church women I know, hit their kids. And anyone who says their kids were never acting like a holes is a liar or one of those women who feel the need to make their life/kids/marriage seem perfect…esp on social media.
I hear you, but I promise that I’m not a judgmental person overall, but I am human and we all have pet peeves. I have worked with children for years and have heard many, many parents do this to their children and the effects can be devastating for the child and the parent/child relationship. It bothers me a lot. I do not think that this woman is a horrible parent, I actually wrote how she was probably having a hard time at the moment and was struggling. But that doesn’t mean that I think she is terrible all the time. I know she was having a moment…but that doesn’t mean that I still wasn’t shocked by her statements.
I also think we need to be careful not to swing in the other direction and elevate our children to royal status, praising everything they do, ignoring human foibles, and constantly referring to them as little angels. I think a really useful skill is being able to laugh at oneself and although ‘asshole’ seems a little harsh, we could be safe using words like ‘little tyrant’ or ‘monsters’ without feeling like we’re child abusers.
While I agree with most of what you say in your article, I find the name of your site odd. Yes, I know you might say it is all in fun and no where near as degrading as calling a child an a hole, but surely you can think of something more respectful than “boogers ” when you think of a child.
Oh I’m sorry you don’t like my blog’s name but it was made because my son had dirt and boogers on his face, and I thought “Man, this is what motherhood is made of…Dirt and Boogers”. It’s wonderful and amazing, but still quite dirty. I’m not the type to sugar coat motherhood, even though I do talk a lot about how wonderful it is.
Well-written and clearly comes from a good place — but at the same time, your post seems to miss the opportunity of actively replacing those “negative behaviors” and negative thinking, with positive ones. I’m a mom who struggles for sure, and I know some of the things I say or think or do are not good — but sometimes I’m at a loss at what I can I do to better myself. Just thinking that, while I appreciate seeing this for the perspective you provide, a great follow up could be *how* to change — not just, “You should change. But figure it out on our own.” It doesn’t help just to have more flaws pointed out, you know? Even something as simple as, “Rather than think, “She’s so bossy!”, try to think, “She wants X her way, but I want it this way. Can we compromise?” or “Is there a way to show her why it cannot be done her way? Can I let her do it herself, letting go of knowing my way is faster, or zyx?” I don’t even know what to say or think or react! Sounds like you have a good base to help out mamas like me :)!
Thanks for the suggestion! It’s a bit too much for this post, but I can certainly write another post all about that!
My children are… me. Well, they are a combination of me, my husband and of course three is their own unique personality. To call your own children aholes! Even to call them brats, who facilitates their behaviors? They are indeed children, and not equals like other adults, but they are the most precious thing in a parents life (aren’t they?). As parents it is our responsibility to help them become fine, ethical adults. Their flaws are our flaws! Thank you for your article. I hope your wisdom can touch more people… our future depends on it!
This is something that had been bothering me, but I hadn’t fully articulated it, not even in my own mind. I have something of a mental cringe when I hear parents do this. I think some of it is our speech patterns in general. People enjoy cussing and use it to express strong emotion. And boy do our kids bring out strong emotions. Hence the popularity of the book, Go the F to Sleep. In short, our general habits intensify when we are highly emotional.
That is why we have the positive negative in my household. Back up a negative word with a positive adjective. I tend to describe my daughters as “charmingly obnoxious” bc as adorable as they are that constant chatter of theirs is enough to zap you of your cognitive thinking. Sometimes as a mom you need to laugh to keep from crying especially on a tough day. Joking about your children (when you are around friends and away from said offspring) is a lighthearted way to ease stress.
I totally agree. I am all for venting and taking with friends to let off some steam, because you’re right, if we don’t laugh well probably cry. Parenting is tough. I just hope that we are aware of our thoughts about our kids and how and where we vent.
I would feel so uncomfortable in that situation you described at the baby shower. Kids can be so hard to deal with so much of the time, but, really, they are still just kids!
I recently I called my kids “spoiled brats” to my husband and I totally felt guilty. My husband and I do a pretty good job about reminding each other how sweet and amazing our kids are when one of us is feeling fed up with them. Lately we’ve been looking at their sweet baby/toddler pictures and can’t believe how fast they’ve grown. I need to print, frame, and hang some of those pictures on our walls as a reminder of how tender these little ones are and how fleeting the moments are.
Everyday Life Mother and Wife
My oldest daughter is grown now, and a major @$$hole. She’s my first great love. I’ll take anyone’s head off over her, but she is the worst sister on the planet. She torments my autistic son by sitting on him, waking him when he is sick, making lunch for everyone but him. Touching/hiding his things [if you have an aspie, you know this is BAD]. She isn’t kind to him. The other day after a nasty fight they were having, I called her an immature a-hole. I never acted that way at 18. She laughed when I told her the behavior (slamming her weight on him) was unacceptable and he could have choked. She is completely loving to everyone else, but those to are like gas and a match. I wouldn’t recommend calling your little kids out of their names, but once you are an adult, it’s time to grow up or be called what you are.
That behavior isn’t immature; it’s abusive. And as an 18 year-old, she is now a legal adult. For her brother’s sake and her own, she needs to stop.
This is a great article. I would like to continue telling that there is a signtist from asia who did an experiment about the power of our thoughts or words. It’s called the rice experiment – search for it on youtube you will find it easely.
Also it’s important that when you are mad at your child to tell the child that you are angry of what it did and do not tell them that they are bad it is their behaivior that is not correct and not the child.
Kids are more emotional and even more because the closest relation they have to there parents or the person who take care about them the most time.
Also we should never forget how happy kids make us and send them the right messages at the right time and never forget to tell them how important they are and how much we love them. Feel positive about your child and it will be your mirror and give the feeling back to you.
Thank you so much for this post ! I have (thankfully!) not heard so much of this in real life but I see it A LOT on-line. So many good reminders here. I shared this with my husband and I think it really struck him too. He grew up in a home where the language (and/or the tone) was frequently not kind (I hear it with the way they talk to the dog!) and so as often happens, we find ourselves repeating that language that we ourselves heard. Sometimes it is hard to develope new patterns, but it is an effort we both make. It just is nice when I can point him to a post like this (because it totally related to how I was telling him how uncomfortable I am with a certain blog because of the language she uses about her children) and then you write something that hits home for him.
I needed to hear this.
I really love your perspective. It’s important to nurture our children & not bring them down. My mom used to tell me that I was such a critical person and it really hurt. I’m wondering what is wrong with telling a child that they’re acting bossy. Isn’t that focusing on behavior? I also tell my son that he has a sassy attitude sometimes and ask that he speak respectfully to me.
I think part of the problem is we’re so desensitized as a society about those words — the harshest word I ever use is “bastard” so using it on my child… that’s just unfathomable. But even that “labeling” as you describe, is so damaging — to our mentality, and to our children.
Thank you for shedding that light.
I really appreciated this article. It gave me a moment of reflection on how I am speaking about my children to others and directly to them. With that said it felt to me like mommy shaming. Which happens way too often and just makes me so sad to see. While I understand the writer was giving her professional advice given her background. I am hesitant to listen unless they are willing to reflect upon their own faults as well. As my Mimi once told me don’t throw rocks when you live in glass houses. While I completely understand the reasoning for this article it seems hurtful and judgmental. Why can’t we bring up ways to improve how we talk and or write about each other too.
She was probably just joking around. As long as you aren’t saying it when the kids are around, I don’t see the problem with joking that your kids are being assholes. Kids can be major assholes in my opinion. 🙂
Yes, I agree what you are saying totally.
But hang on, you are also venting about this lady on the net, aren’t you?
Nope not venting. I am not judging her at all…I know she is struggling and I’m only giving insight and tips. She is not the only one I’ve heard say things like this, I’m just using this situation as an example.
I’m embarrassed and ashamed to admit that I often call my kids names. I often do so when I’m feeling crummy about myself or when I’m overwhelmed or frustrated. My kids obviously do not deserve this sort of treatment. I think, I just need to learn to suffer in silence when I’m down, like everyone else does. At least I will not hurt my children.
This is so true! What you label a child with can become their behavior. I had a son in law that used to call his daughter “stupid” all the time. I finally called him out on it because it hurt me to hear, and I could imagine how she felt.
Thank you for this well written blog. It’s so very true! I noticed one response accused you of judging a woman you didn’t know who “could be” a single mom. That is no excuse! I am a divorced mom raising five kids on my own. One of the primary reasons I got a divorce was how verbally abusive their father was, not only to me, but to the children. The biggest indicator I have had that I did the right thing in divorcing him was how they have thrived AWAY from him!
Jenny @ Unremarkable Files
Wow, I would never call someone those names. Not a complete stranger and certainly not my own family. I’ve seen blog post titles and such calling their kids that, but I figured it was just clickbait – I’ve never met someone actually saying it in real life.
As a person who grew up with my parents calling me names and talking negatively about me to all of their friends and my older friends, I can say that all of that is true. All of the negative things that I overheard my parents say hurt me and made me feel like I was a burden and that I was unloved and that I didn’t deserve to live. But as much as those comments hurt, it was the ones that I got from my friends that hurt more. Growing up I preferred adults and people who were older than me instead of people my age. So naturally, I shared many of these friends with my parents. I trusted them, they trusted me. But they also trusted my parents, and my parents trusted them. My parents would tell them things about me, things that I would have preferred that they not share. Things such as fights with my mother, who I don’t get along with due to things such as this, along with other things. They would periodically ask me about these things. Things that I told them, that I would prefer they kept secret, they told to my parents. This circle of whatever you may call it has lead me to a life of depression. I don’t trust anyone, I feel like I have to be perfect so that using make anyone upset, I can’t even trust myself because of how my parents judged me and told everyone that I looked up to and trusted everything about me, down to the food that I didn’t like. I know that this sounds childish, but this problem has transformed from being just a problem, into something that has made me feel so low about myself that I am extremely suicidal, and I can’t reach out for help to people I know because of my childhood. I use a fake name and an email account that none knows about. I’m sorry about my ranting, but I just want people to know that how they raise their child and what they say about them around them, to them, and to people they trust, determines what their life is like when they are adults. There is nothing anyone can say to change that. Thank you for making this page, and I hope that people read it, and learn from it.
PLEASE know that you are loved & important to many people! If you are feeling suicidal, call a suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 and talk with an adult at school, church, home or in your neighborhood that you trust.
Laura C. Merchant
Speak kind words and receive kind echoes is a quote that I believe in and tried to pass on to my classes of 7th graders(12 yr olds). We started the first day and it soon got to the point that I never had to say a word- they took over.
Now , yes, I know, all those little sarcastic tones……… but maybe, just maybe, it made them think. We also talked about the negative things we say to ourselves – whether out loud or in our minds “the little voice”, and how we can affect our own lives. Believe me I am not perfect, not the perfect mom, not the perfect mimi, but words do hurt,
anon a mouse
Is this a thing now where smart, hip parents think this is funny, or ironic, as if calling him “obnoxious” or “difficult” is code for saying he is precocious and brilliant? I frequently observe this with my daughter-in-law. She speaks so harshly about my grandson, casually, and in front of him, like it is her sad lot in life to tame this ferrel creature. Toddlers and preschoolers do not understand irony. They are tiny literalists, who believe mom and dad (mostly mom) to the be ultimate authority on all things. And of course, you know, his behavior disintegrates into tantrums and power struggles, as he internalizes what he hears. I’ve tried a few times to gently discuss, but I can’t keep calling attention to the behavior (M0m’s behavior, not the child’s. And how unfair that he is given consequences for just doing what mom said?) Any suggestions?
anon a mouse
Is this a thing now where smart, hip parents think this is funny, or ironic, as if calling him “obnoxious” or “difficult” is code for saying he is precocious and brilliant? I frequently observe this with a playgroup friend who speaks so harshly about about her 4 yr old, casually, in his presence, like it is her sad lot in life to tame this ferrel creature. Toddlers and preschoolers do not understand irony. They are tiny literalists, who believe mom and dad (mostly mom) to the be ultimate authority on all things. And of course, his behavior disintegrates into tantrums and power struggles, as he internalizes what he hears. I’ve tried a few times to gently discuss, but I can’t keep calling attention to the behavior (M0m’s behavior, not the child’s. And how unfair that he is given consequences for just doing what mom said?) Any suggestions?
I just randomly decided to click on this while bored, and from a child’s perspective, I agree. I’m a teen, 13, and my parents call me and my older brother insulting words yet claim they are “helping” us. I get called a pig whenever my room is dirty which makes me not even want to clean it, and used to even get called a retard by my mom for being shy even around my family. She basically wants me to be another person, calling my introverted and quiet qualities “nasty and bad” during prayers, asking God to “fix it”. My family is different from most, so the names won’t stop anytime soon unfortunately.. :/
I’m sorry that you have to live in a home like that. Your parents shouldn’t call you these names. Don’t ever succumb to those names. Don’t let them make you do anything you don’t want to do. Don’t change, be you, and when you move out of that house, flip them both the fuck off. For me.
my mom hated me
Great post – you write about what I think about so very often. Though I may not have heard that particular woman at the Baby Shower in person, I have heard many alike. And my heart hurts for their children.
I strongly believe that if we as adults stop being preoccupied (smartphones, TV Sitcoms, Internet to name a few) and focus on our children they can stop being “brats”. If we love them and teach them instead of letting society (ahem… TV) teach them, then everyone would be better off. I’m not perfect in any way, but there is a reason I don’t answer emails as soon as they come in and why our family chooses not to have TV service.
We can love our children and raise them in a loving and respectful way, we just have to want it.
Very encouraging post, especially the point about thinking positively about your children. Thank you so much for sharing it 🙂
Thank you for this post!
Like a few other commenters, I am on the receiving end of this. I’m 17 years old and for most of my life I have been belittled and called names by my parents. I have hardly any self-confidence as a result of this – I am slowly gaining some, because Pewdiepie’s video of laughing at mean comments has helped me see that is what they are. I don’t have confidence to be a parent myself because in some ways I’d act like them and I don’t want to put my child through it. If I try to push myself to not be like them – I know that I’d probably end up being like them, which I don’t want. They have told me time and time again that they won’t help me raise my children or be there for me, and I have replied to them each time in my head: Good, because I don’t want you in my life when I leave.
Teens are known come to those sorts of conclusions and sometimes they do not mean it. But I fit in with those who are not just saying it and actually mean it. I have an older brother who is in the same boat as me who has come to the same conclusion. He hopes to move to the other side of the country – not telling them where he is going. He has OCD and where he has been trying to move past it – my parents have told him it’s not a problem and that he’s being ridiculous. I am slightly overweight and it is something they like to announce to me, and everyone. I am not hurt by a random’s opinion of me but to have my parents make it a point that I am overweight gets on my nerves. Not too mention that I can’t have a problem that needs a doctor’s appointment. My problems stem from the fact that I am overweight and if I lose weight – I won’t have any physical problems. That is their reasoning. I’m not allowed to have physiological problems either like my brother – I get told I don’t need to communicate with a therapist (or helplines, which I am using at the moment) because there is nothing wrong with my mental state.
I was suicidal at one point – but I wasn’t allowed to feel like that. Because there was nothing wrong with me. I was just “overreacting” and that I should feel bad for people who live in a worser family situation than me. Because there was nothing wrong with our family situation. I was just lucky I had my Grandmother at the time to help me through it. But, she passed away last year so it makes it hard for me to find someone to confide in other than my brother.
My mother too often bitches about other people behind their backs, such as my father, my brother and myself. She eggs others on to bitch with her but I do it back at her so she gets a taste of what it’s like to have to listen to her bitch and waste our time. She tells me that I have some nerve to do that behind people’s backs – and while it is not the smartest thing to do on my part, the fact that she tells me that and does not see that’s what she is doing makes me want to hit my head into a wall. She says that at least with her she has a “reason”. No, you can let out stress but when you start to call people names, you are no different than a bully.
When I was 11 or 12, I remember my mother accusing me of thinking I was “beautiful” because I had my hair out and telling me that I was not all that. I will be frank: I’ve never thought of myself as beautiful. I hated my name. I hated the way I looked. I hated that I was different from the other children and that it was enough to get me picked on at school. Not once have I ever thought of myself as “all that”. But, I couldn’t say that because I would have been “talking back”. I don’t remember feeling hurt by this at the time – I was just thinking how pathetic it was. When I reflect on this memory even now I can’t help but think that and laugh at it.
My father is the same more or less, but rather than bitching about people behind their backs, he likes to say it to their faces. The most recent session was when he called me a “fucking egg” when I had asked if it was permitted to have a hot beverage. My mother joined in on this session to have a go at me at how I won’t get anywhere in life. I was annoyed by this but I just took it because if I said anything, I would have been “talking back”.
Raising children is not easy from what I have heard – but NEVER do those things that my parents do. If you think that you are disciplining them with these tactics, you are, but you are also setting them up to resent you.
First of all your parents sound like bullies. It’s going to take a lot of time to let their voices go from your head. You are more radiant and brilliant than you believe you are. Please look up -Ralph Smart- on YouTube. I know what it’s like to have an insecure parent who feels empowered to put me down. It stays with me, the words she said. Watching Ralph’s videos on help topics has allowed me to cry for me and feel good about it. Stepping back and allowing myself to let go. I see you said that you are 17 I’m 31 and I only Made this peace, this past year. Please don’t allow your parents lack of respect consume you. When you realize that you don’t need to listen to them, you will feel lighter and happy. I promise!
PLEASE know that you are loved & important to many people! If you feel suicidal, please call a suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 and talk with an adult at school, church, home or in your neighborhood that you trust.
I’ll just preface my comment with the fact that I am not a parent. Therefore feel free to disregard.
So instead of saying anything to this lady, you silently judged her – and her children, since that’s what you suggested in the article (and that their mothers words help you to assign those character traits or at least associate them) and then used her as an example for your article. My parents never said things like that about me, but I had friends where that kind of language was the norm. What I found was that the families like that who could joke around always had a lot of laughs! I don’t think this article is helpful by blowing the whole thing out of proportion. People should think about how they speak about their children but perhaps this woman thought she was in an accepting environment – at a baby shower. Why do people think it’s okay to tell other people how to live their lives? The context missing from your article was the real-life personalities of her Children and how they responded to it – not some stranger at a party (again, where woman thought it might have been okay to vent).
You’ve made an example of this woman and dragged her character through the mud based on your own judgements. Did it occur to you that not everyone thinks the same way? I would never think that children are actually even capable of being “arseholes” or “bastards” so it really does say more about you to be judging in the first place.
Children deserve respect. Adults deserve respect. People deserve respect. Full stop. Humor that tears other people down doesn’t create a safe and healthy environment. Think about the person who is the target of those “jokes.” They might be laughing on the outside so that they can get by in that environment, but that stuff is hurtful! I know from experience. Some behaviors need to be called out. They ARE wrong. And it’s ok to make that judgement.
Friend of a Parent
I actively made a Google search for articles about this topic. I have a friend who is a stay at home parent with a 7 and a 4 year old. They likes to make reference to their children in the same way. Though they are good parents it pains me to hear them refer to their children as a-holes.
Though I am not a parent I know not to tell a parent how to be a parent. Reading your article makes so much sense to me. The respect or lack of respect you give to your children is what you will receive from them. Also respect and integrity for your children, not talking badly about them to strangers is so important so those people don’t get wrong impressions and discourage their children from making friends with your children.
When we see angry children, what’s the general attitude of the home?
I’ve been a care taker for children, if you shout and scream they here an angry voice, if you kneel down to their level and speak to them with respect, they hear your words.
Words are very…Very powerful. I’ve told my children and remind myself often that once the words are out of your mouth you really cannot take them back….they are “out there” and they have the power to shatter another person or the power to lift a person/child to their highest potential . You can say you are sorry….and should…because we all make mistakes…..but sometimes if the words are so hurtful, even if you are forgiven they will still haunt that person….and possibly you for a long time….or even forever. Great article. Children are just smaller people…not some sub-species….they deserve every respect, every encouragement and all the love they can get.
I want to be as wholeheartedly behind this post as everyone else. I really do. But the truth is, it frightens me. I makes me afraid of my thoughts; it makes me afraid of my frustration and it makes me afraid to share any of those thoughts and frustrations. On any given day, I will have all sorts of wonderful happy thoughts about my children and all sorts of negative ones, but if my thoughts become my actions, how can I stamp out these negative ones so they don’t take control? How do you know who it is safe to tell these thoughts to? Is speaking them aloud really safe if just thinking them will negatively influence how we act?
The idea that I cannot even safely think negative things without harming my children terrifies me. And if our thoughts become our actions, surely not even the thoughts are safe? This is why I really struggle with this article.
I understand, I really do. It is impossible to think positively all the time and our children will get under our skin from time to time. The problem is when our negative thoughts about our children outweigh the positive ones. It’s a problem when we actually BELIEVE that our children are brats, assholes, and terrible. Our children aren’t perfect, and neither are we. I did not intend to make people feel bad, and I hate adding more Mom Guilt, and I’m sorry if it came across that way. My intention was to remind parents that our thoughts 100% control our actions and that we should be aware of our internal dialogue.
We recently moved to a new city and enjoy spending time with our new neighbors. They take care of their twin 12 year old grandchildren every other week. One is a boy, the other is a girl. The grandmother says a lot of derogatory comments to her grandson, for example she will tell him he is “stupid”, or a “PITA” (Pain In The Ass). And she tells her granddaughter that she is the favored child right in front of her grandson.
The grandparents have been really nice to us, allowing us to borrow tools and physically working along side of us to take down trees. They spend a lot of time thinking of activities to entertain their grandchildren. They even have act as surrogate parents to a neighbor’s daughter. So they are caring and do most things right.
As a former teacher, it bothers me that the grandmother treats her grandson with so little respect, yet wonders why he is so disrespectful to her and others (when playing a game, he cheats in order to get ahead and calls others names when they make mistakes). I don’t want to sit back and allow her to continue to destroy this boy’s self esteem. Yet I don’t know how to talk to her about this without ruining our friendship. Would she even listen to my advice if she has obviously been doing this for years? Would she feel I am infringing on her right to talk to her grandchildren in her own way?
Find reasons to praise and compliment him, especially (but not only) in front of her. Let him know when he’s helpful, thoughtful, etc. Give him and his grandmother another way to see him. ?
Im annoyed almost i see parents get along with their kids. I’m constantly called a heathen for standing up for my self or saying when my mom is wrong (which is usually right) but then I get yelled at by my dad and mom what do i do
Hi there.. I learned such a valuable lesson… My young son was nearly 2 years old with a very retentive memory.. he loved story time and once I had finished a story.. he would actually read the story word perfect and turn over the pages as though he could actually read.. I promised him to take him to the local library to obtain library tickets especially for him because he had learned to look after his books.. at the library I was given 2 tickets and told my son to choose a book from one of the shelves and that I will choose one also.. He found a book and very shyly with the book in his mouth he came to me.. I told him to take the book out of his mouth as it wasn’t suitable and to choose another book and once again he returned to me with the book being held to his mouth.. I was just about to punish him when I realised that he was doing something out of the ordinary.. and the penny dropped.. I had told him to choose a book and he only knew the interpretation of the word “chew” and he was doing what I told him to do… to “chewse” a book.. so please.. if your child seems to be misbehaving.. think of what you have said to him/her.. they may also have misunderstood what you have said to them… and by punishing them. in their little minds they will wonder why they are being punished when you told them to do something and to them they interpret what you have said according to their own understanding.
Such a thought provoking post. I, too, have worked extensively with children and families in clinical settings, but never thought about this on a larger scale. I wonder if I have just become desensitized to how often this occurs.
That said, I know I have told my son he is being a jerk – but, then, I have described those specific behaviors, and how to change his behavior in order to not be a jerk. But, unfortunately, the word was the first thing I could come up with in the “heat of the moment,” which is what has resulted in many insightful conversations about behavior since. And, it has helped him learn how to make a pretty darn good apology, when he can apologize for being one, and then spell out exactly what he did that was offensive…
Great thoughts, though!
Really good post, so much has been said already! But one thing that really stood out for me, was the part about what if the child heard. They would be devastated. It is very inappropriate to “vent” like this around children. There is definitely a time and a place for everything.
Okay so I am actually the child in this situation. So today I was arguing with my stepmom and I knew I was winning the argument because she had very invalid reasons, so I then yelled at her to leave me alone, and then to my face, she called me a pain in the ass and is now making me do things that make me really anxious and stressed, like, I’m not allowed to get a ride in the car to school and I now have to take the bus. Which the bus makes me really stressed because I hate the people on the bus. Plus this is also preventing me from seeing friends I don’t get to see at all during school….What should I do? I tried reasoning with her calmly but she just ignored me.
My mom has called me a bitch and a lazy asshole all my life. Every morning I would wake up to her saying “get dressed and get your fucking shit done”
I’m 19 now and that muthafucka is out of my life.
Cant wait til I have kids of my own to push around and scream at. And I’m gonna rub it in her bitch ass face.
I have heard many Mother’s calling their children “A##holes”, I have spoken up and said they are just little kids, not a##holes, but I have been shut down, and they said that the word doesn’t mean the same thing anymore…..but even if that were true, then it is still bad, or you wouldn’t be calling your kids that when you are mad at them. When I was growing up, that word was the worst thing you could call another human being. It still means the same to me today.
Thanks for bringing to the forefront, hopefully there will be a change.
Dear lord – lighten up.
If the child isn’t there, surely the mother is just showing some perspective, if their child is acting like an asshole?
Children and adults can be assholes. Failing to recognise that is not helpful to anyone.
So I totally love this post and I am going to step out on a limb here and admit that I’ve done these things how can I repair the damage with my children How can I build them back up?
I apologize if this question has already been addressed, I just didn’t have time to read all of the comments above. I’m feeling pretty guilty about my poor behavior with my three boys who are now teenagers. I know I’ve gotten much less careful about what I say to them, and I feel terrible every time it happens, but two of my boys have high functioning special needs that I’ve been dealing with for 13 years and I’ve gotten to the point where I’m almost just too tired to care anymore. I really do want to end this pattern, as I do not want them to repeat this with their own children. So, what can I do now to try and reverse any damage I may have already done??
This is the best! Thank you for sharing these thoughts. As one of those watching in the corner kids I always soaked up what the adults were saying about the kids. To this day it gives me a really bad feeling when someone throws the bossy or whiny label on a kid! Thank you for explaining the difficulty with this as I’ve never been able to pinpoint exactly what bothered me about it.
Thank you for writing this article I’m not a mom I’m a preteen and my mom has been calling me names behind my back since I was 5 even in frount of family and it’s embarrassing it also brings me down . I have read another article about this saying that calling your kids names can bring them down and have a hard time making friends so I hope this article will make my mom think twice about calling me names behind my back and in frount of family and friends Thank you so much for wiring this article
I agree and hopefully this tops. Thanks for sharing.
Very well said. Thanks for sharing..
Nursery in Discovery Gardens
I just wanted to thank you for writing this. I am on the Autism Spectrum (milder end), which can make it harder for me to understand how my behavior affects others. I also know what I want, and am willing to do anything within my power to get it. The things that always hurt my feelings (even if I didn’t show it) were, “you are being bratty,” “you don’t care about anybody but yourself.”
Here is something I encourage anybody who has close contact with kids to consider. The impact your words and actions might have on the children’s future. Sure certain words and actions might get you the results you want to see now, but think about what could happen days from now. Weeks from now. Months from now. Years from now. Do those same words and actions have the kind of results you want to see then? Maybe, or maybe not.
Was shocked this past weekend when I heard my daughter-in-law call my 15 month old grand daughter a ‘jerk’ and an ‘idiot’. My heart sank. They tried to get pregnant for so long and I don’t get to interact with them much because of distance. I don’t want to interfere but this is certainly not how I raised my son. I don’t know how to approach this but I fear for my grand daughter’s development if this is the type of bullying she will be exposed to by my daughter in law. What to do?
When his son was around 5-6 years old my brother called him a shit head because he did not keep his room neat and tidy. His son, Toby, loved his dad so much he thought that is what he must be because “Dad told me I was”. Toby’s growing years were not good. Even though he is smart, he failed in school. He has not held a job for any length of time. His marriage failed. To this day Toby has a problem with success in his life. Is there a good book you would recommend forToby [and his father] that would address this problem?
I may be only a child that is 17 but this really spoke to me. Coming from experience my mom has always said bad things about me and it was like the piercings of a sword. I never understood how a parent could talk so mean about their children. My mom hurt me a lot with her words. I was adopted which made me feel unwanted, Lonely and i felt like the only friend i had was myself. I lived all my life since the first grade being bullied everyday being called names by friends at school having to be alone because my sister took all of my friends away calling me stupid, my family and old friends told me that because i have asthma i just need to breathe and get a life. My sister to this day is still a toxic abuser to me. Look if you learn anything from what i have said i have been through a lot. Every since the first grade i have never had a friend i have always been lonely I always felt like i didn’t have a voice its taken me 10 years to realize i have a voice. But you know what even if i am adopted and my parents now don’t care about me and be a discouragement and they tell me i can’t achieve my dreams well guess what i already did because i don’t need to be perfect i may not be able to go to college but through me having a disability it will never stop me and i will never give up even if i don’t go to college. I will be a para in a year and i will be in college and i am helping kids elementary age for kids with disabilities because i don’t want them to live how i lived. If you get anything from what I’ve said encourage your kids tell them you love them and tell them you’re proud of them it means all the world. I’ve made mistakes but God has forgiven me and i believe that God made me who i am today. Read Ephesians from the bible you are chosen for a reason. Never give up . God has called me to help kids with special needs and become a professional ice skater. God healed my grandma from stage four cancer. God is so good we just need to trust in him. Any parent or adult you can do this.