Thursday, 24 May 2012

The power of three little words

I watched a movie called The Help the other day. It’s a great movie about African-American maids in the 1950s and how they go to work to raise white children while someone else looks after their own child. Despite this, the main character always makes sure she instils confidence and self-worth into the children she raises. Her mantra for all of them is “You is smart. You is kind. You is important.” Of course, we’ll use the correct grammar in repeating this to children!

Can you imagine how different your life would have been if you had someone constantly telling you you were smart, kind and important? Could hearing this every day instil confidence and self-worth? Could that confidence and self-worth stop children from taking drugs, over eating, drinking or making themselves throw up? Could those words encourage a child to embrace and revel in the brilliance of who they are? Could those words develop those children into successful, intelligent and caring adults?

I think they could. But of course, actions speak louder than words. How many of us are guilty of saying to a child “I’m too busy to speak to you right now.” Probably all of us. But what does that say to a child? It says “You’re not important enough for me to stop what I’m doing and pay attention to you.” What a horrific message to send to a young mind.

Think about it. Is what you’re doing really THAT important you can’t stop? Maybe – if you’re performing life saving heart surgery! But nothing should be that important where you can’t at least say “Mummy just needs to finish this but I really want to hear what you have to say. Sit down here and wait for me because I want to give you my full attention.” Do you see the difference?

What I love about this mantra is it doesn’t mention pretty! I had a lot of friends who were always told they were beautiful but they always knew that referred to their external beauty. So they fell into the trap that everyone always judged them on their looks, or their looks were all they had to offer someone. I would much rather my children know they were smart, kind and important as I believe knowing that creates inner beauty.

I spent so long being over weight and being told “You’d be so pretty if only you lost weight.” Even now, all these years on, my soul dies a little more just thinking of those words. It’s taken me so many years of personal growth and counselling to rebuild that damaged soul. So much so I couldn’t imagine being responsible for killing my child’s soul.

I have no doubt that parenting is hard. And I have no doubt that I won’t always remember to say these words. I have no doubt that there will be times when my anger and frustration gets the better of me and I won’t always act the way I want to.

But what I do know, is I will always endeavour to be mindful of the words I say to my child. I know the pain of constantly thinking you’re not good enough and I refuse to let my child suffer the same pain. In the end, these words do have the power to create amazing human beings. But only if we commit to saying them!

1 comment:

  1. Having known you for some time, I can truly say that you ARE smart, kind and important, especially to me!! And this post brought tears to my eyes and I cast a little wish that one day a little one of your own will be blessed with your love and encouragement! For now though, I am grateful that you here to influence my little girl's life! While I've seen and loved The Help, you've really made me think about the power of the things we say, and specifically how I talk about and to my little girl... I'm constantly calling her 'beautiful' but when I really think about it, I'm not making a comment on her looks, but trying to express (unimaginatively) how wonderful she is. From now on, I will make more effort to choose the words I really mean... She is bold, bright, boisterous, clever and funny and that's waht makes me love her so much! May I always remember to take the time and effort to say what I truly mean to instill a sense of self-worth and confidence in her! :)



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