“A word is dead when it is said, some say. I say it just begins to live that day.”
— Emily Dickinson
If this past election season has taught us nothing else, it has emphasized the power of words. We heard some of the most hurtful words that could be uttered. And it is very difficult to “unhear” them in the aftermath. Those words are being tossed up again and again – on both sides of the story.
My sainted grandmother used to say “Make your words sweet and tender. You never know when you may have to eat them.”
Teaching our children civility in conversation and manner begins with us. We need to model the behaviors and vocabulary we want them to use. When they are young, we need to protect them from hearing some of the crudities and vulgarities common in today’s world.
Growing up in my grandparents’ home, I never heard loud angry voices or cursing. My grandfather’s strongest epithet was “Well, hell’s bells, Mom.” To which my grandmother might respond “Ye gods and little fishes.”
That doesn’t mean they didn’t know or hadn’t heard the more vulgar language. It simply meant it was not approved for use in our home. In fact, my grandmother taught me that cursing did not show more emotion, but simply a lack of vocabulary. Such language was seen as a poverty of mind and an object for pity.
How do you teach your children to speak?