Auntie Says… Words matter

What you say can have a lasting effect

Are you aware of what you’re saying to your child or what message you’re sending with your behaviour? Kids do hear whether you think they’re listening or not and believe me the ears perk up even more when then they overhear their name.

The reason I ask is that I had a chat with a mom a couple of weeks ago who related a story about her ten-year-old daughter returning from a weekend visit with her dad. The girl said her dad started teasing and calling her names when he noticed she had underarm hair. He told her she needed to start shaving because the hair made her masculine and no boy was ever going to like her.

Needless to say, this upset the young girl who then went home to mom and relayed the story. The mom, not wanting to put her ex-husband in a bad light, wasn’t sure how to react to the situation.

The whole thing peeved me off.

A parent should never demean a child for any reason and in this particular instance, the dad is way off base.

I see it as a clear case of bullying. Teasing and commenting on normal physical development and body image will do more harm than good. Personal grooming is something that needs to be discussed with options given but it isn’t something to be mocked or shame-filled.

I applaud the girl for questioning her dad’s words. By acknowledging that the words made her uncomfortable a much-needed discussion took place. In the end, I’m trusting the mom had a chat with the dad to relay the problem and I hope he took it seriously. The sad thing is a week before the young girl was completely unaware of shaving — it wasn’t even on her radar — and now it’s an issue. I hope the dad learned a lesson, but only time will tell.

Words have a lasting and powerful impact. Kids can become hypersensitive about things they have no control over, from the colour of their hair, the size of their nose, to the onset of puberty. Everything and anything can become an issue that affects self-esteem, personal growth and social interactions.

There’s a whole movement around body shaming, for example, where humiliation is used against someone’s size or shape. This disgusts me beyond any imagination and when it’s used on children or young people it’s even more deplorable.

Kids have so much anxiety and stress already in our fast-paced world they don’t need a coach poking them in the belly, parents putting them on diets, and they certainly don’t need a grandparent telling them all about their liposuction, boob job, and facelift while promising the youngster that they too ‘can have their flaws fixed.’

These are real stories about real kids.

Home and family should be a haven for children and not a place of ridicule and self-doubt. Comments are sometimes made in jest but believe me that can be even worse when you’re the butt of the joke. Words can sting and wound to a point of leaving a life-long scar. Imagine having no voice, no recourse, and no insight into what damage is being done.

I know I’ve barely touched on this issue but I want it to serve as a reminder that children do absorb our words and we need to watch what we say.

Often we don’t let kids watch adult movies because you ‘can’t un-see what is seen’, well, neither can you ‘un-hear the criticism, negativity, or judgement that you hear.’

Think about it.

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. She can be reached through her website at www.fayeearcand.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Organizers hoping to hold Summerland Fall Fair

COVID-19 pandemic may result in changes to agricultural celebration

Vees add highly touted prospect Jacob Quillan for 2020/21 season

Quillan is also committed to the NCAA’s Quinnipiac University for the fall of 20201

Okanagan real estate market stable; bracing for slowdown due to COVID-19

Real estate board projects slowdown as the economic impacts of the pandemic continue to develop

Summerland Action Festival cancelled

COVID-19 pandemic leads to decision to stop large outdoor event

Penticton’s Soupateria re-opens soon after closing due to COVID-19

Soup kitchen is back with new staffing system to serve community during tying times

VIDEO: ‘Used gloves and masks go in the garbage,’ says irked B.C. mayor

Health officials have said single-use gloves won’t do much to curb the spread of COVID-19

COVID-19: Central Okanagan fire departments only responding to serious medical calls

The new directive from Dr. Bonnie Henry does not change the public safety response of firefighters

Okanagan business produces plexiglass barriers with a cause

Mouldings and More is donating barrier proceeds to local food banks

53 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., four new deaths

B.C. has 498 active confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus

Bighorn sheep wander through the Okanagan

Local wildlife sighting refreshing amid COVID-19 pandemic

Weather dumps belated April Fool’s joke on Okanagan

Snow surprised many Friday, April 3

City of Kelowna Bylaw to issue warnings to those not following public health orders

Bylaw can issue formal warnings and will contact Interior Health when ongoing non-compliance is occurring

Don’t stop going to the doctor, just do it virtually: B.C. association

Doctors encourage patients to access telephone, online visits

Kelowna gamer donates proceeds to Central Okanagan Food Bank

Dylan St. Onge will donate all his April proceeds to help those affected by COVID-19

Most Read