“Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me!” Remember that childhood retort? Spoken in a slightly haughty tone, it was intended to let the taunting child know that what they were saying didn’t mean a thing to you-you are unfazed.
Unfortunately, that saucy retort just isn’t true. Especially, if the uncaring words were spoken by an adult-parent, teacher, aunt, uncle, Scout leader, grandparents. True, no bones are broken when a child hears statements that cause them emotional pain-but, the emotional scars can shatter not only a childhood but will influence decisions into adulthood.
If you encounter a sullen, withdrawn, depressed and listless child, a bully or a recluse, there is a good chance they don’t hear the words, “I love you” with any frequency. It would seem insincere to say you love them, and they are the best thing that ever happened to you shortly after meeting them. BUT, you can love something about them-their hair, their eyes, the drawings on the back of a church program. We don’t have to be mothers to know that every child deserves to feel loved and safe. Extend a smile, a soft touch, a greeting of validation to the children around you-your own and the little girl down the street that always looks sad.
Here is a treasured photo of my children-I tell each one of them that I’m not sure where I would be without them. They have taught me so much-mostly, the importance of feeling, saying and meaning, “I love you.”