I think every person, especially parents, have certain vocabulary words that are strictly forbidden in their homes. And I am not talking about four-letter swear words, but more generic terms that may be deemed harmless at a neighbor’s house or in the vicinity of grandma and grandpa, but end in a time-out and death glare if they get uttered in a person’s very own living room.
Hate and Stupid
It was hard for me to even write those words as I type on the laptop in our basement. They are the epitome of “words we do not say”. If a stranger says one of them in the supermarket or a friend uses hate or stupid in a sentence, my children will most certainly tattle on them. There are a multitude of reasons that these two terms have made the naughty list in my home. I feel they are derogatory and can be so mean in certain contexts, that it is just easier to avoid them all together.
Hate has always kind of been a big no, no for me to say. I remember in my elementary years hearing a teacher explain that hate was the worst thing you could say or feel towards someone or something. She went on to clarify that it would be better to say “don’t like” or even the more negative “immensely dislike”. This educator was emphatic that there is nothing in this world worth hating, and I kind of agree with her. I don’t love ink stains or when my toddler throws a tantrum, but I also definitely do not hate them. There are also a lot of people on this planet who I would go out of my way to avoid, just as I am not every person’s cup of tea. But to say I hate someone seems so harsh.
My line of thinking had me teaching my oldest at a very young age that we do not ever say hate. This chain of command has been passed down to all the kiddos and is still holding true today. If my husband or I ever slip up and accidentally say this stricken word, we get the business from our two bossy daughters and a three-year-old son who is not afraid to give us a scolding. I am okay with their lectures, because I think the word “hate” is very extreme and I do not want my kids growing up thinking that extreme is okay. The world consists of different personalities full of different opinions, but even the people we disagree with the most deserve some respect, or at the very least, a non-extreme response that does not include such a dark word.
Stupid is another letter grouping that I have grown to despise (see how I won’t even say I h*** the word stupid? Because even a line up of vowels and consonants deserves respect.) It probably took becoming a mother to really force that word out of my vocabulary. I just think it is so disrespectful and when used against another person; it can leave damage. If a kid does not know the answer to something, it is never stupid to ask a question. People learn at different paces, therefore a rough label like “stupid” hurts. I think this word when said by kids to other kids leads to bullying and the devaluing of oneself, which is incredibly hard to take as a parent and human being.
No one on earth is perfect, and we all having something to contribute. I say silly things all the time and can often be found having multiple scatter-brained moments, but I know I am not stupid. I also do not want my kids to ever think they are anything less than bright and ambitious. Therefore by showcasing how an adjective like “stupid” is bad to use, my husband and I are hopefully reinforcing that it is better to be kind than to be right in life.
“Oh my god” and “Oh my gosh” have gotten stricken from our household, but this came more from my children than a dictation from my spouse or me. My daughters learned through church and religion class that it is never okay to take the lord’s name in vain, and we reinforce that at home. My bigger problem with the OMG term is its common tone of use. I really, really, do not like the long, drawn out, over enunciated expression that can be heard on song intros or by exasperated ladies from Long Island. The “Ohhhhhhhh my GAWD!” shrieks make my teeth ache. However, putting “Oh my God/gosh” on the “Words We Don’t Say List” has come with consequences.
When my oldest started elementary school and her sister was in preschool the banning of the OMG’s in my house took full effect and it was somehow declared that only “Oh my goodness” would ever be acceptable. Well, three plus years into this ban and my husband and I are still struggling with it. My young son is constantly clarifying to us that we do not say “Oh my gosh” we say “Oh my goodness”. He has corrected his cousins and friends multiple times. My three-year-old has even lectured the cashier at Target who exclaimed OMG when gushing over his scraped knee in the check-out aisle. He loudly corrects my mother-in-law, our pediatrician, the multiple staffers working hard and always smiling at our local coffee shop, and others because a rule is a rule. All I can say is “Oh my goodness” and try to let others know we are not crazy.
There are many other terms that go unspoken in our home. My kids know they can never say “shut-up”, and we have had to have some conflict resolution conversations about how using the expression “knuckle sandwich” is not appropriate when trying to solve a problem or apologize to another. Pretty much silencing some words, has really only led to more emphasis being placed on the “bad word”. It is tricky, but it also starts good dialogues and that is something I value very much as a parent, woman, and person.
What words or expressions must go unsaid at your house?