Careless Criticism: Things We Say to Our Kids
Before I jump into The Naked Truth about “Careless Criticism: Things We Say to Our Kids,” I must extend thanks to Cathy C. Hall for hosting me on her blog yesterday. I never miss Cathy’s blog posts, and I was thrilled when she invited me to answer a few questions about Ricard Writing & Editing. Please click over—after you read The Naked Truth, of course! Here’s the link: Back with a Bang (and Lisa Ricard Claro!)
For those of you who enjoy eBooks, the soon-to-be-released Love to Believe is now available for Kindle pre-order at Amazon (HERE). It releases on January 30th, and at that time will be available in both eBook and print. And just because I love the cover, here it is again. 🙂
A Goodreads giveaway is coming Friday, and I’m also doing a giveaway here on my blog for some stuff pertinent to the book—I’ll show pics so you can see what’s up for grabs. Stay tuned, Buttercup!
Today’s Naked Truth is about the careless things we say to our kids, criticisms in particular. Think your kids don’t pay attention when you’re talking to them? Try criticizing them. Trust me, they’re listening and taking it to heart.
Specifically, I’m referring to the remarks that fly out of our mouths before we give thought to the lasting ramifications. To parents, it is a comment made in the heat of the moment, spoken and forgotten. Parents might not even see it as a negative. But for our kids, those words are indelible and may affect them in ways we will never know or understand.
One negative statement from a parent has the power to cancel a thousand positives. Here’s a personal story to illustrate.
My daddy was a great dad. He was one of those who blended the dual personas of father and daddy with ease. In my high school years we spent a lot of time together. He was self-employed as a counselor and hypnotist (yes, as cool as it sounds) and took Wednesdays off during my school breaks so we could hang out together. We’d go to the movies and lunch, sometimes to the beach. One of the first things I ever had published was a memoir piece in Chicken Soup for the Beach Lover’s Soul about my dad and those Wednesdays. Of all the things I’ve written, it’s still one of my favorites. Maybe I’ll post it for you sometime.
Anyway, he and Mom were hugely supportive of everything I wanted to do. When I decided that singing was the thing for me, they put me in voice lessons. The voice lessons evolved into piano and guitar, and eventually I was writing my own music. Of course, I had aspirations of Broadway or packed concert halls. All I wanted to do was sing and play music.
(If you’re wondering where my writing fell in terms of my aspirations, the answer is that I always wrote. Writing was part of me then as it is now, not something separate. It didn’t occur to me that it was a “thing” like singing or playing music. Writing just was.)
One day I sat at the kitchen table with my guitar, singing away. Daddy came in to get something and said, “You’re good, kid. But you’re not that good.”
Bam. A direct hit.
I have no idea of his true intention. Deep down I knew he wasn’t saying “you suck,” and I knew even then that he would never deliberately hurt me. But his choice of words knocked me flat. And here’s the real problem…those words became the watermark for everything that followed. It’s forty years later, and with every accomplishment a voice inside me whispers, “Now, Daddy? Am I good enough now?”
There will never be an answer, of course. It’s an endless loop.
Those words are the reason I work so hard. Maybe Daddy knew that, knew that if he pushed me that way I’d find my passion and never give up. It is more likely that I hit a few sour notes and his comment was a throwaway, words spoken in the moment with no intent behind them other than the hope that I’d put my guitar away and provide him an hour of respite from my repertoire of Carly Simon tunes. But I’ll never know, because I never asked him. I think if I had, he would have been horrified. I imagine him raising his dark brows in surprise and saying, “What? I would never say something like that to you, Snowflake! Of course you’re good enough. You can do anything you set your mind to!” Now, those words I heard all the time. Why is it that it was the negative that carried the most impact?
So, you think your kids aren’t listening? They are. Every moment of every day. And the words stay with them, so be sure what you say is something you don’t mind being tattooed on their brain.
I’ve wondered what things I’ve said to my own children through the years that they may still carry with them, aside from the platitudes they tease me about like “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” one of my perennial favorites. Have I ever said something they perceived as negative, something less than uplifting, words that hold them hostage in ways I don’t understand and never intended? I don’t know—I pray not—but it’s worth asking the question, and I believe I will. Best to clear things up now while I’m still around to do it.
Watch your words. Be mindful of what you say. Just because you send it without barbs doesn’t mean it won’t stick.
Thanks for hanging out with me. See you Friday for Observations from the Tub!
UPDATE: The eBook version of Love to Believe is available to pre-order now at Amazon!
Romance is good for your heart! To purchase your copy of Love Built to Last in eBook or Print, go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Black Opal Books, Kobo, or AllRomance. Book #2, Love to Believe, will be available for purchase January 30, 2016!
In need of a professional editor? Please visit me at Ricard Writing & Editing for details regarding services and rates.