Hearing negative words from a parent


#1

Do you think if a parent often speaks negatively to the child, this will affect the child adversely?

I'm a pretty positive person, so I don't want to think of such things, nor do I want to keep on blaming the environment, the situation. However, lately it made me think. Me and my two siblings seem to grew up with a lot of failures. I remember growing up my mom used words that weren't positive, like calling us stupid. Now I'm thinking if somehow that is one of the reasons we're having so much difficulty. Up to now this still sometimes happens.

My question is, won't it be very difficult for us to change now that we're adults? It makes me sad to see them and myself scraping by. I don't think we're stupid. And I don't say this in a prideful way. I think it's because we lost confidence in ourselves. I really want to improve as a person, but I think deep down I have doubts, like I am scared.


#2

Hi Fin

I absolutely believe that a parent effects the way a child sees himself. If a parent makes negative comments about a child's very character - You're stupid, or lazy, or irresponsible, or spoiled, or ungrateful.....how could that not make the child wonder "Am I?" or worse, "I am ________." Our parents are supposed to be the people who help us up, not push us down. I am sorry if that was not the case for you, and I think it's OK for us to recognize our parents' failures without hating them or feeling they were "bad" parents. As an adult, we can appreciate that our parents are people with flaws and difficulties of their own. Perhaps someone whose mom was really harsh when he was a child can see as an adult that the mom was depressed or poorly parented herself, and was really doing the best she could at the time.

I also agree that at some point, as an adult, one has to move on from blaming his parents for what is wrong in his life.

I know that a lot of people on this board poo-poo therapy, but I think therapy can be very helpful in assessing and moving on from issues stemming in childhood. To find a different way of thinking about one's-self. To answer your question, yes, it might be hard, but not impossible.

You're off to a good start by realizing that you are not, in fact, stupid, and that it is in your power to do better. Good luck, and God bless!


#3

Yes, the words of a parent can deeply affect a person and haunt them for the rest of their lives. Hearing negative things about yourself as you grow up writes on the slate of who you are, which is why overcoming it is much more complicated than telling someone to simply grow up, fundamentally change who they were raised to be, and stop blaming others for how your life turned out. It's like being trapped under a rock - you can push the rock off you you, but it requires level of strength not everyone has so they remain trapped no matter how hard they try.

I have a friend whose parents always told her and her brother than they would never amount to anything, that they were lazy, worthless, etc. and it still affects both of them to this day. They were very far down on their parents' priority list (their parents had a nice house, a boat, and a plane, but made their kids wear hand-me down clothing because they didn't want to spend money on them, and that's exactly what they told them). Even now, they are about to retire to the carribean and they told their adult children not to expect an inheritance because they are planning to spend as much of it as they can while they are still alive because their enjoyment is worth much more to them than helping their children.

Both children struggle greatly with feeling they are worthless pieces of trash unworthy of anything good. Both have been in therapy trying to overcome those feelings and the massive effects it has had on their lives, but it's a difficult daily struggle.


#4

Yes the words of a parent can scar a child for life.

However, this is what I am doing. I try hard to pray to God to help me overcome it. I tell God, if forgiving my parents will help me over come it, put forgiveness in my heart. I keep asking God to show me to His way

And here is the bad news, I have been praying like this for over 10 years and sadly, I don’t feel any better. Not encouraging words but the truth for me

I hope you can get over it faster than I seem to be

CM


#5

It is called emotional abuse and most definitly can affect the rest of your life. I am speaking from first hand experience as I was an emotionally abused child. Phrases such as "You embarrass me", "I wish you were never born", "What are you, stupid?", etc. can and do severely destroy a child's self confidence and self worth. I strongly suggest that you see a trained and licensed counselor. I did and it helped greatly.


#6

[quote="cmscms, post:4, topic:224636"]
Yes the words of a parent can scar a child for life.

However, this is what I am doing. I try hard to pray to God to help me overcome it. I tell God, if forgiving my parents will help me over come it, put forgiveness in my heart. I keep asking God to show me to His way

And here is the bad news, I have been praying like this for over 10 years and sadly, I don't feel any better. Not encouraging words but the truth for me

I hope you can get over it faster than I seem to be

CM

[/quote]

I do not wish to discount the power of prayer but I strongly suggest that you see a professional counselor.


#7

[quote="StJudePray4Me, post:2, topic:224636"]
Hi Fin

I absolutely believe that a parent effects the way a child sees himself. If a parent makes negative comments about a child's very character - You're stupid, or lazy, or irresponsible, or spoiled, or ungrateful.....how could that not make the child wonder "Am I?" or worse, "I am ________." Our parents are supposed to be the people who help us up, not push us down. I am sorry if that was not the case for you, and I think it's OK for us to recognize our parents' failures without hating them or feeling they were "bad" parents. As an adult, we can appreciate that our parents are people with flaws and difficulties of their own. Perhaps someone whose mom was really harsh when he was a child can see as an adult that the mom was depressed or poorly parented herself, and was really doing the best she could at the time.

I also agree that at some point, as an adult, one has to move on from blaming his parents for what is wrong in his life.

I know that a lot of people on this board poo-poo therapy, but I think therapy can be very helpful in assessing and moving on from issues stemming in childhood. To find a different way of thinking about one's-self. To answer your question, yes, it might be hard, but not impossible.

You're off to a good start by realizing that you are not, in fact, stupid, and that it is in your power to do better. Good luck, and God bless!

[/quote]

Yes. Calling a child stupid borders on verbal abuse. Therapy AND prayer are two wonderful tools to overcome issues stemming from childhood, but one needs to do the work. It takes time as well, but it can be overcome.


#8

Yes, basic behaviourist psychology and (interpretavist) Sociology (labelling theory/Self-Fulfilling Prophecy) if your constantly hear negative labels towards you, you will eventually become that label (or rebel against it, never a clear cut which way it will go person to person).

Of course you can reject the label, you will eventually beat it, prayer, therapy and hard work :wink: it’s the only way youll prove to yourself (and believe me, noone thinks your stupid, dumb or lazy, it’s yourself, and that who you have to prove your not to).

Good luck, and may God bless you (:


#9

I've found that when a child does something "stupid" they should be told. Just as they should be told when they do something right. Both have more meaning when used in a balance. When I praise my children for something they've done they know they've done something exceptional and are very proud of it, when I scold them for not thinking or doing something opposite of what they've been taught they are equally chagrined knowing that more and better is expected of them. In doing so they have begun to trust my judgment and respect my opinion - much more so than their mother's. When planning school, 4H or even home projects they started coming to me instead of their mother because I'm more apt to give them an honest opinion of their idea or suggest a more challenging project instead "Anything you choose will be just fine".

If a child is acting lazy or stupid they need to be told, but they also need to be told and shown an example of how not to be lazy or stupid. In other words the parents need to set an example for their children. A litany of complaints is not a strategy for improvement.


#10

[quote="fin, post:1, topic:224636"]
Do you think if a parent often speaks negatively to the child, this will affect the child adversely?

[/quote]

Without a doubt, children are adversely affected by being called pejorative names.

[quote="fin, post:1, topic:224636"]
I'm a pretty positive person, so I don't want to think of such things, nor do I want to keep on blaming the environment, the situation. However, lately it made me think. Me and my two siblings seem to grew up with a lot of failures. I remember growing up my mom used words that weren't positive, like calling us stupid. Now I'm thinking if somehow that is one of the reasons we're having so much difficulty. Up to now this still sometimes happens.

[/quote]

You are an adult. Tell the parent to stop. Tell them that if they continue to use such words, you will not listen and you will leave. And if they continue, then leave. You must break the chain of abuse that has you shackled to the role of helpless child. This doesn't mean you must stop seeing the parent altogether, but that you recognize the abuse and will accept it no longer.

[quote="fin, post:1, topic:224636"]
My question is, won't it be very difficult for us to change now that we're adults? It makes me sad to see them and myself scraping by. I don't think we're stupid. And I don't say this in a prideful way. I think it's because we lost confidence in ourselves. I really want to improve as a person, but I think deep down I have doubts, like I am scared.

[/quote]

Sometimes it takes years to recover, but we have to make a beginning. First thing is to stop yourself from replaying these words everytime something doesn't go perfectly. You aren't those things your parent said, but an adult with skills and capabilities. Start looking at yourself in a positive way. What are those things you do well and enjoy? Do more of them. Try something new that you've thought you might like, and congratulate yourself for even trying. You don't need to be an expert your first time out. When you review your day, think of the things that you did well, no matter how simple. Were you a good friend to someone? Did you do really well at your job? Little things, yes, but a start toward thinking yourself into achievement.

Keep yourself away from toxic situations as much as possible. Recognize the persons who are hurting you, making you sad, causing you to feel like less than you are, and stay away from that person or persons. Sometimes we allow ourselves to get pulled back in, but when you see the old pattern, extract yourself from it. You are in control of you now.

God bless


#11

[quote="SamH, post:9, topic:224636"]
I've found that when a child does something "stupid" they should be told. Just as they should be told when they do something right. Both have more meaning when used in a balance. When I praise my children for something they've done they know they've done something exceptional and are very proud of it, when I scold them for not thinking or doing something opposite of what they've been taught they are equally chagrined knowing that more and better is expected of them. In doing so they have begun to trust my judgment and respect my opinion - much more so than their mother's. When planning school, 4H or even home projects they started coming to me instead of their mother because I'm more apt to give them an honest opinion of their idea or suggest a more challenging project instead "Anything you choose will be just fine".

If a child is acting lazy or stupid they need to be told, but they also need to be told and shown an example of how not to be lazy or stupid. In other words the parents need to set an example for their children. A litany of complaints is not a strategy for improvement.

[/quote]

You tell the child the action they committed was stupid, you never tell the child they are stupid. We're not talking about not holding the child responsible for their actions, especially when they do something wrong or that is punishable. But when you constantly tell the child they are stupid, or lazy or any other label you want to assign to them, you are doing damage to that child.


#12

As long as you are telling the child the action was stupid and not the kid then it is not as bad. The reality is, kids do need to be taugh but the word stupid is wrong. ‘Your actions are innapropriate’ is a healthy way to say so (using the word stupid is never good)

And yes, as a child grows older they need to be told that more is expected of them

And I also agree that they need to be shown an example of how to do it right. I often hear parents tell their kids to be polite and the poor child would have a clueless look on their face. I once took a friends kid to the paint store with me and she wanted to collect a bunch of cards with the colour samples on them. I told her he had to ask the sales lady politely. When the kid said to me ‘I don’t know how’, I walked her over to the sales lady adn said ‘repeate after me. Excuse me maam’…silence until the kid repeated ‘excuse me maam’ ‘how many may I please have’ silence until the kid repeated. And so on

CM


#13

I'd echo a lot of what's been said already. It is not necessary or desirable to be shielded from legitimate complaints. We need those, or we cannot know what or how to improve. It is not necessary to eliminate all conflict from family life, either, but only to manage conflict in a way that will lead to peace and growth instead of strife and injury.

As St. Paul advised: Fathers, do not provoke your children, so they may not become discouraged. Col. 3:21 It is important for people, from kids through into adulthood, to hear about five times as much positive as negative feedback. That may seem like a lot, but knowing that you are seen as a worthwhile person feeds a healthy desire to please and to live in harmony. Mutual correction is far easier inside a mutual admiration society.

It is important that feedback, good and bad, be about actions and not one's worth as a person. We can't change how loved we are by God by how much we do or don't accomplish. Rather, we accomplish because it is good for us to reflect in our lives the value we have in God's eyes, the dignity he gave us, the share in his life that we've been given. All of his commands are things we need to do for our own good, not simply things other people need us to do. We have to keep our eye on the fact that God has great plans for each one of us, that God thirsts for our perfection, no matter what our past failures.

Having said that, an adult can choose to do the work to unlearn unprofitable or false messages that his or her parents or teachers taught him or her, or rather can make an effort to cooperate as God does that work in him or her. The vast majority of us, if not all of us, have some imperfections in our thinking, in our view of ourselves and of the world. Those of us who have more to work on have a greater chance to give God glory by the change he can work in us: "He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty." Luke 1:52-53

When we realize how much we need God to turn us around, but have faith that God can do it, then we are thinking right down God's alley. We ought not spend a lot of time thinking about the injuries done to us in our lifetimes, but rather think on the goodness of God and how God intends to cleanse us of every blemish and heal us of every wound. Our Lord did not come for those who were self-satisfied, but to set captives free, to heal the broken-hearted. If we are among the broken-hearted, then we are very ready for God to work in us, if we but dare to look for his healing!

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. **The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all*, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you*." Phil 4:4-9


#14

Very true. It’s taken me years to break the habits of thinking badly about myself, and I still catch myself at it.

Please note – it’s not only actually saying these things to children that can affect them. My mother never came right out and said any of it – it was her tone, and her attitude, and her actions that told me that I was stupid, and not worth listening to, and that my very existence was a bother to her.
I have since realized why she was that way, and that helped some. But I think I’ll struggle with the effects all my life.

Prayer helps. A lot. Keep working at it.

:gopray:


#15

[quote="agnes_therese, post:14, topic:224636"]
Very true. It's taken me years to break the habits of thinking badly about myself, and I still catch myself at it.

Please note -- it's not only actually saying these things to children that can affect them. My mother never came right out and said any of it -- it was her tone, and her attitude, and her actions that told me that I was stupid, and not worth listening to, and that my very existence was a bother to her.
I have since realized why she was that way, and that helped some. But I think I'll struggle with the effects all my life.

Prayer helps. A lot. Keep working at it.

:gopray:

[/quote]

That's a good point. Sometimes, the healing that we get is partial, and it almost always comes with some struggle and a lot of patience. Grace sometimes works in the blink of an eye, but more often it works at nature's quiet pace. It is worthwhile to be ready for that, to know it is the usual course of things.

I've found that it helps to think of our inner scars the way we do our physical ones: the trick knee, the arthritis in the neck, and so on. In other words, it is OK to resign ourselves to the likelihood that these things may always be something of an issue, that we may not be entirely free of them in this life. Nevertheless, we also don't need to feel guilty that we have picked up scars as we went through life. It is a reason to give ourselves special care in that are, to do particular strenghtening work to make up for the difficulty, if that is in order. It isn't a reason to unduly limit what we think we are or what we can do, either. Just as older athletes can learn to work around their old recurrent injuries, we can learn to remain active as we work around our inner injuries, too.


#16

If a child is acting lazy or stupid they need to be told, but they also need to be told and shown an example of how not to be lazy or stupid. In other words the parents need to set an example for their children. A litany of complaints is not a strategy for improvement.

I don't think the word "stupid" has any place in child-rearing. I feel the same way about saying "Shut up" to a child (or anyone for that matter). It's just too harsh. There are many other ways to reprimand a child without saying "That was stupid." For example "That wasn't a good idea" or "That wasn't a responsible things to do," or "I know you are smarter than that choice you made," or "Please think about why that wasn't the thing to do, and don't do it again." Even a strong "Don't do that again!" is better than stupid. Perhaps it's just me, but the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when I hear a parent say it, and when I hear a parent tell a child to shut up.


#17

[quote="fin, post:1, topic:224636"]
Do you think if a parent often speaks negatively to the child, this will affect the child adversely?

I'm a pretty positive person, so I don't want to think of such things, nor do I want to keep on blaming the environment, the situation. However, lately it made me think. Me and my two siblings seem to grew up with a lot of failures. I remember growing up my mom used words that weren't positive, like calling us stupid. Now I'm thinking if somehow that is one of the reasons we're having so much difficulty. Up to now this still sometimes happens.

My question is, won't it be very difficult for us to change now that we're adults? It makes me sad to see them and myself scraping by. I don't think we're stupid. And I don't say this in a prideful way. I think it's because we lost confidence in ourselves. I really want to improve as a person, but I think deep down I have doubts, like I am scared.

[/quote]

yes, definitely, what parents say can affect the children. I am sad to read this as this happened also to me. Words like "you are stupid, you will do nothing with your life, you will fail all your exams" were affecting me a lot and even today i am shy in my relationship with other people because i think they are better then me.
You must try to get over this, pray and try to continue your life, think of the good things in your life and not the bad.


#18

[quote="StJudePray4Me, post:16, topic:224636"]
I don't think the word "stupid" has any place in child-rearing. I feel the same way about saying "Shut up" to a child (or anyone for that matter). It's just too harsh. There are many other ways to reprimand a child without saying "That was stupid." For example "That wasn't a good idea" or "That wasn't a responsible things to do," or "I know you are smarter than that choice you made," or "Please think about why that wasn't the thing to do, and don't do it again." Even a strong "Don't do that again!" is better than stupid. Perhaps it's just me, but the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when I hear a parent say it, and when I hear a parent tell a child to shut up.

[/quote]

I feel the same way. Even if you think you are being clear that you are only calling the child's actions stupid, a child (especially a young one) won't always interpret it that way. The end result is the same as if you had called them terrible things. There are so many other ways to phrase it that there really is no need to be so mean to a child. It's not being overly sensitive, it's being realistic about the way children think. Using harsh words hurts children far more than it would an adult. And think about it, how would you really feel if you made a mistake and another family member got angry and said "Boy, was that just downright stupid. I can't believe you did that. What were you thinking?!" Wouldn't you want them to phrase it a little less harshly?

As for "shut up," it's just extremely rude. If it's something I would never dream of saying to another adult, I don't know why it would be okay to shout it at a child.
Some parents think they really need to be tough with their kids because the "real world" is tough, but I think the best way to prepare kids for harsh realities of life is to give them the self-confidence that can only come from knowing they are fully loved and accepted by their family. If they know their family has always got their back, it's easier to brush off insults hurled at them by a cruel world.


#19

Hi everyone,

Thanks for the advice.

I’m a positive person and I really want to improve. I continue to pray for myself and for my siblings. It’s just sad to see that we don’t seem to make the most of our talents and potentials. I don’t think we’re stupid or incapable. I think as much I do not want to admit it, subconsciously I’m affected by the negative things I have heard.

Of course my siblings and I have our share of mistakes, everyone child does. But I can’t help feeling that there are times we were unable to do what should have been done because of self esteem issues.

I love my parents and I think they try their best to be good people. In other aspects they’re really good. But the negative aspects seem to have caused suffering.


#20

[quote="StJudePray4Me, post:16, topic:224636"]
I don't think the word "stupid" has any place in child-rearing. I feel the same way about saying "Shut up" to a child (or anyone for that matter). It's just too harsh. There are many other ways to reprimand a child without saying "That was stupid." For example "That wasn't a good idea" or "That wasn't a responsible things to do," or "I know you are smarter than that choice you made," or "Please think about why that wasn't the thing to do, and don't do it again." Even a strong "Don't do that again!" is better than stupid. Perhaps it's just me, but the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when I hear a parent say it, and when I hear a parent tell a child to shut up.

[/quote]

Do you have children?

If a child can't handle an honest assessment of their actions they have much bigger problems than the use of the word stupid.


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