Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The "H" Word

It’s a humbling and somewhat scary feeling when you realize that you cannot control all of the influences for your children. They go to school and they learn from their teachers and their friends. Some of these learnings match our beliefs and morals but unfortunately some of them don’t. It’s a difficult task to help them understand and withhold our beliefs and values when their peers don’t share them.

The “H” word has reared it’s head in our house twice this month. I was totally taken aback the first time I heard it. Sara and Scott were playing when Scott got a bit too rough and started pestering Sara. She told him to stop a couple of times, then drama queen went overboard and screamed, “I HATE you!!!!” at Scott. I knew she had to have heard it at school or at daycare or the neighborhood kids because we just don’t talk to each other that way. Well, we had a long talk about how words hurt and that she didn’t really mean it. She apologized and I thought that was the end of it. Yes, I know, naïve Mommy.

This weekend, they were playing in the sprinkler and having a grand time. Daddy started spraying the kids with the hose and Sara didn’t like it. In her defense, she told him to stop numerous times, but you know how Dad’s like to keep on going. And there it was again. She screamed “I HATE YOU!!!” at her Daddy. I was just floored, again. Another talk ensued and another apology.

I discussed this with a friend. Her teenager had gotten angry with her recently and wrote her a note saying that he hated her. She said he’d never said it and it really hurt her. I understand. It’s one thing to hear a 6yo say it in the heat of the moment who really doesn’t understand it, but for a child to think about it and then write on paper is huge. When they talked about it, he told her he really didn’t mean it. I thought her response was awesome. In a nutshell, she told him that he can’t say things if he doesn’t mean them because they can’t trust him. Does he really mean it then, when he tells her he loves her? That is a very powerful approach and really teaches them to think before they talk and to be honest with themselves. I don’t think 6yrs is too early to start teaching them this. And maybe there’s a lesson here for grownups too.


Mel said...

Once my young son told me he wished I would go to hell! I was so shocked! We had a very serious discussion about that . . . I have never been so hurt!

nutmeg said...

I loved this thought-provoking post. Certainly, those words have been spit at me. I think you made an excellent point: it's not so much the action (they need to LEARN how to express anger), but our reaction that really matters. When I was little, my own mother would respond to those words with 'I hate you too.' I knew I didn't really hate her but I believed she really hated me. I think that left some scars.

When my children say those words, I try to love them even harder, because I'm the adult.