The Power of Words
by Janet Carter
You is kind. You is smart. You is important. When I first read those words in Kathryn Stockett’s fine book The Help, I did not realize at the time just how significant was their power. I did not realize the power of any words. I appreciated good writing. I recognized the talent in the author and in the actress (Viola Davis). I was moved by the spoken expression of such selfless love. But that was about it. They were, after all, just words.
I have come to realize that there is nothing just about words. From the world of quantum physics to the practicalities of everyday life, words are powerful. Words define us. Words reflect us. Words shape us. Words can destroy us. Words can empower us. Words can enlighten us. Words can change us. And if you believe the book of Genesis, words created us.
Say too many words, and you could lose your audience. Remember how Charlie Brown heard the excessive words of his teachers? Whah, whah, whah, whah, whah … Remember Seinfeld’s oft quoted blah, blah, blah, to the repetition of the unnecessary? Remember my friend John Rosemond’s admonition, The more parents talk, the less their children will listen? Turns out too many words are just that… too many… very ineffective and apparently easily forgotten.
When Aibileen, the faithful maid from the book and movie, spoke those words to Mae Mobley, she spoke into her the person that “Baby Girl” could one day be. She spoke into her what she wanted Mae Mobley to believe about herself, because she understood that if the child believed it, the future adult could become it. She understood the power of her words and the intention of the heart.
Be mindful of the impact of your words. If you have a child who is fearful or anxious, instead of trying to talk/reason him out of his fear, what if you acknowledged the feelings, but used words of courage? I am so sorry that you are afraid of the dark. I am not afraid and I would never leave you in a place that would hurt you. You are a very brave little boy. You will overcome this fear, I just know it.
When your child is dishonest, what if you empowered him with truth in your admonishment? You are an honest person and honest people tell the truth. You will have to spend a few hours in your room for not telling me the truth. When your child speaks unkindly, what if you responded with, You are a kind person and kind people do not treat others the way you treated your friend. We will have to cancel playgroup this afternoon. When your child is disobedient, what if you said, You are a respectful person and respectful children obey their parents. You will be going to bed for the next several nights immediately after dinner.
I think Aibileen was on to something. How differently would we use our words if we believed their power? Speak positively. Respond consequentially. Say less; accomplish more. You is kind. You is smart. You is important. A lot more.
Janet Carter is a former high school English teacher and mother to four adult children. Based in Richmond, VA, Janet is a Certified Rosemond Parenting Coach, writer, speaker, and advocate for the family. You can follow her on Twitter @janetgcarter or visit her website and blog, www.ourchildishways.com.
reblogged from John Rosemond: Article ©2014 Janet Carter.
Words of comfort, skillfully administered, are the oldest therapy known to man.”
— Louis Nizer, American lawyer