Words spoken out loud have the ability to morph into weapons. They can destroy and demolish those that they land on or they can build them up. Words wielded from the mouths of strangers, whispered in passing or shouted in your direction have more power than a stranger should have over a person that they don’t know, have never met, and likely will never see again.
Unfortunately, they do and after the half of a summer I have spent out and about with my four kids, I am beginning to understand where our American bullying problem comes from.
I have four kids. Yes, it’s a large family but we are not the Duggars, we are not a spectacle. At some point in the history of America we have decided that it is now okay and acceptable to not only have an opinion on how and what someone else’s life entails but also to poke fun or straight up insult them in public.
Now I am not naive, I don’t think the world used to be a kinder nicer place where everyone got along and liked everyone else. However, there used to be a level of decorum in public places. Parents would shush children and wives would glare at husbands if they made unkind comments within ear shot. Now a days, words are slung from peoples’ mouth with no regard whatsoever as to where they will fall or who will hear.
These seems to be particularly acceptable towards children and families. While there is backlash and a movement to protect and be respectful of women … when was the last time you heard a catcall as you walked down the street. It is apparently acceptable to scowl, scoff and straight up insult with comments like, “Whoa, someone needs to learn about birth control” and “Better you than me!”
Yep, that has all been said to me, at me or in passing.
This morning a woman walked into the cafe I was meeting friends at. A cafe that has a children’s room for the expressed purpose of allowing parents a place to meet and talk while their kids play (so we weren’t taking over a Starbucks or anything). A women walked in with her two tween/teenagers, and with a crinkled nose and total disgust, loudly asks “Is it preschool day here?” I was not in a good mood today so I stood up, walked the two steps to her (to pick up my toddler) and matter of factly laughed and said they were all mine! Oh, she backtracked .She smiled, she laughed it off like it wasn’t an insult and quickly left the store.
Here is the thing America, not to get all inspirational Whitney on you but, children are our future. Even in a non-romanticized, cliched way. The children today will be the adults of tomorrow and they don’t get that way by magic potion that makes them <poof> into functioning adults. They get there by being children first. Children who are in public are learning from the adults around them. The ones that scowl and scoff and make snide comments when they don’t sit still.
Look at countries whose birth rates are plummeting. They are suffering economically and socially. Even the Pope is reminding people that children are important and can’t be replaced with a dog or a cat.From an economical standpoint, children are necessary to replenish the workers and to pay for those of you that look down on them now to retire and be taken care of. A childless society is not a viable option.
Look, I’m the first to admit that sometimes kids are loud, messy and annoying. Heck, even my own children bug me sometimes. However, I learned something growing up, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Words have power and what you say can penetrate and break someone.
I’ll get over the comments. I’m a big girl and I am confident in the life choices we’ve made. The damage will be collateral, in my children who will question if there is something wrong with them. There is not. In other children who see and hear their parents talking like that to strangers, who will learn it’s okay. It’s not. It’s not okay, even if in it’s funny in your head, it’s not okay.
So let’s work together as a society to come back to a level of decorum and respect when we are out in public. Let’s start thinking before we speak and if we don’t have anything nice to say let’s opt to say nothing at all.
Melissa is mom to 4 kids and 2 angels | writer | creator | localist with LittleLakeCounty.com. She once lived in heels and dreamed of traveling the world, now she lives in her minivan and dreams of a clean kitchen
See more of Melissa's stories here.
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