Perspective is a funny thing. It can colour how you see and interpret things around you. Take 2 people viewing the same moment and experience and they will each have different interpretations of what happened. Some things are black and white and can’t really be seen differently. Is it daytime or nighttime for instance…although dusk and dawn can even throw that argument.
But I’m musing about more subjective times. I was at my son’s baseball game last night and while I have spent years at sport events and kid-filled events in general it has been a while since I’ve been in attendance. Some of the comments and interactions that I observed last night between parents and children astounded me. Even more so because it wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before…many times before. This time though, with a different perspective, I was shaken by how it affected me and how apparent it was, to me, the negative impact that their words and actions could have on their children.
Now, I don’t profess to be the uber-parent or the authority on how to treat your kids. I’ve made mistakes in parenting and have a handful of less than stellar moments that I would rather forget (and hope my kids do lol!). Having lost my son last year though I have a different perspective than I used to. While I have always believed in “pick your battles” and in watching what you say with regards to how it will leave an impression on little spirits, now I find that I am so much more aware that every moment is a treasure and that- as a parent- we need to really get that concept.
Watching last evening and sitting back and seeing the way that parents treat their kids was rough. I’m not an aggressive or intrusive person but I was having a hard time not leaping in and asking some parents what the hell they thought they would accomplish by the way they were speaking to and treating their children.
Watching a mother talk to the coach, with her child by her side listening, about how she needs to sign him up for a sport again next year because he’s lazy and needs to be made to do anything (yes, her words exactly!). The coach, laughing and stating that they all are lazy really. Both of them oblivious to the impact of those words on the little set of ears. Sad.
The same mother throwing a ball to her daughter on the team for practice. Her daughter yelled to her mom that she wanted her to throw it harder so she could practice catching harder throws. The mom yelled back “So I’m throwing like a 9-year-old girl eh? Not good enough?” Does she have any idea what those words could mean to her 9-year-old daughter that she’s throwing to?? Or worse yet…maybe she does know and does it anyways.
Listening to a father who has nothing but criticism to his son when he comes off the field. Not a word of praise. Watching that little boys face change from a smile as he runs off the field to his dad to an expression of anger and frustration while he stomps away from his dad after the remarks. The father following, angrily yelling “how dare you walk away while I’m talking to you”. This is a 9-year-old. Would that father not walk away himself if he was subjected to that behaviour on a regular basis? I would assume he would.
Watching a child who has struck out, been given a stand to hit the ball so that he can get a run to first base in… as he gets tagged out and walks back to the players area be told by his mother that he better work on it…next year he won’t be “coddled” if he keeps striking out. His face scrunching up as he throws his batting helmet to the ground and walks off mad…his mom yelling at him to “watch his attitude”. She then turns to another parent and says “these kids have no respect nowadays”. Seriously?! She doesn’t deserve respect the way she treated her child. That’s a two-way street.
I left the game with my son with my head filled with frustration and anger. Angry at the pain and disappointment on the kids’ faces that I saw. Angry that these parents are ignorant of the impact of their words and actions. Frustration over the inability to give someone else the perspective of loss and the ability to see the treasures that their kids are. To really see it instead of just paying it lip service.
Thank you for this post Dawn. Through your words I could feel the sadness and pain those kids were experiencing – thanks to words and actions of their parents. Thank you for reminding me how important it is to be a positive influence in my childrens’ lives.
Ohhhh so sadly true. Funny enough, there was a science experiment done, many many years ago, that involved two sets of plants. One set was praised daily, told they were beautiful and loved. They thrived like mad. The other set were berated, sworn at, and verbally abused. They were stunted little plants that refused to grow. All other factors, such as light, water and fertilizer was controlled, so the only difference was in the verbal treatment that each set got.
So imagine what effect our words have, not just on children, but everyone we touch daily…As the old cliche goes: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.