Fighting with Words

There’s a saying ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.’ I’ve never liked that saying. I would repeat it as a little kid in response to name calling but the names hurt me…they still do.

Fighting with words is easy. Think about how many times a day you call someone a name. Your co-worker is an idiot, your husband is a jerk, your wife is a nag, the driver in front of you is a moron…the list goes on. We call people names we don’t even know! We gossip behind friends’ backs. We complain about our kids (he’s being a monster today!). We argue with our spouses/loved ones. We use names to describe people’s names we can’t remember or want to remember. ‘Yeah, let’s not even say her name but she’s such a bitch’ or ‘Remember that douche bag you dated, you know, the one with the skinny jeans’. Our brains have become so rooted with this behavior that we don’t even realize how much we do it…or how much it hurts others.

Why do we do this? No really, why? I remember being picked on in grade school for having a beauty mark on my face. I got made fun of, especially by the boys. I would come home and cry. It was terrible. I distinctly remember a guy in high school telling one of my friends “She would be pretty if she didn’t have that on her face.” Awful. But honestly, those comments don’t even compare to how and what people can say to each other nowadays. When I went to school, there was only three ways to call someone a name: to their face, behind their back or in a note (yes, a handwritten note). I couldn’t make it my Facebook status, tweet it, text it, email it, Snapchat a picture of it or any of the other ways in which technology has given us to be bigger assholes (yep, I just called everyone assholes!).

The worst part about the way the world of name calling has evolved is how public it’s become. Everything is shared. And it’s not shared out of love, care or concern, it’s shared out of angry, spite and hate. Heck, even celebrities get in word battles via ‘Twitter’. Can’t you just have your agents call each other? No, why would you do that? Let’s just share updates for all to see because you need everyone to know who you’re arguing with (this goes for us non-famous people as well).

We’ve become a self-absorbed society. We post and say whatever is on our mind. In fact, I’m doing that right now! We share and over-share then share some more. Don’t get me wrong, sharing is great, but when its negative, what’s the point?

We fight with words. We fight privately. We fight publicly. We hurt. We hurt others. Why do we continue this cycle? Why can’t we just stop? Because here’s the thing…sticks and stones will break our bones…and names will really hurt us. We are all humans, struggling with our own battles and trying to figure out our own lives. We don’t need criticism, we need compassion. It’s easy to put a label on someone…the way I called everyone assholes. The real challenge is to stop yourself from doing so.

There’s another saying I recall from my childhood, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” It’s easy to word vomit (thank you Lindsay Lohan in ‘Mean Girls’) a name to someone. It’s not easy to undo. Because the thing about the words we speak is that even though we can apologize, even though we can say we didn’t mean them, they were said. And as much as you try, you can’t take them back. No one is perfect, we fight, we forgive and we move on, or at least, we try to. But the next time you go to call anyone a name, think about what you’re really saying before you do so. How will that name affect them? You? Your situation? Your relationship?

Calling someone a name is like getting a mosquito bite. It’s quick when it happens but we’re left with a sting, an itch. There’s a mark…temporarily. We can still feel it for a few days, it bothers us, maybe it really bothers us, but eventually it goes away. There is no scar. But just because there isn’t a scar, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Challenge yourself to stop the name calling and spread the love.

The Generational Gap

Something has happened over the years….a shift. A shift in the way we parent from the ways our parents did. One is not right and one is not wrong. One is not better than the other, simply different. This shift has caused the topic of ‘parenting’ to become quite sensitive. “Back in the day, you kids rode in the car seat facing forward and slept on your bellies,” my mom said to me while I was pregnant and explaining all the changes that have happened she since had kids.

Technological advancements, testing and the ability to make ‘a mom’s life easier’ has made way for car seats designed to withstand almost any crash, new baby sleep methods (previously on bellies now on backs) and new products like swings that rock themselves instead of having to push them. Still, parents from the Baby Boomer generation seem perplexed by all these ‘new changes’ because ‘parenting is parenting’ and ‘You survived back then so we had to know what we were doing.’

This is where I think insecurities arise in new parents and even arguments occur. It’s not about previous generations not knowing what they were doing, it’s about how our generation is learning to adapt to new ways of being a parent, the same way our kids will one day. Maybe then we will look back and get it. Maybe we will stare at them wide eyed as if they’re slightly crazy and confused about why things ‘need to be so complicated.’ Or maybe not, maybe we will just accept the ever-changing ways of parenting.

We no longer live in simpler times. We live in a world where technology rules everything we do. Our face-to-face communication is on the verge of extinction. Our everyday interactions (besides those at work) happen via email or text. Encyclopedias are collecting dust in homes across the world as the internet provides us with anything and everything. Balancing a checkbook sounds ancient and mailing a letter is almost unheard of. Our food has gone to crap because the FDA doesn’t care. Regulations aren’t regulated and the cost now (compared to then) to eat healthy is outrageous. Organic farming is no longer a way of life but a luxury that not many can afford. Everyone is out to save a buck and make a buck so corners are cut, good craftsmanship is hard to come by and no one is to be trusted.

This has impacted the way we parent. We don’t see it because this is all we know but it has. This is where the generational gap happens and the rubber meets the road. Maybe parenting was easier in back then because life was easier. Neighbors were friends not strangers you worry are sexual predators or even worse, murderers. Doors were kept unlocked and helping someone in need (whether you knew them or not) was just a part of everyday living. Dinner time was sacred and shared as a family. Conversation was alive and thriving. It definitely wasn’t the fast paced world we live in now. The world where dinners are on the go, in the car and never without someone on a phone. Helping someone in need is a check to a charity, not borrowing sugar to your neighbor or helping to change a flat tire for someone stranded on the side of the road. Our parents had different lives than we do. They parented the only ways they knew how and you know, we did survive.

As a new mom, I find myself butting heads with my mom from time to time. We don’t see eye to eye on certain aspects of parenting. I am still finding my way while it is old habit for her. I am following all the ‘new ways’ of parenting while she does what she knows from her own experiences. So how do we bridge the gap? We love. We understand and we love. We appreciate one another and relate on a mother to mother level, not mother to daughter. We share ideas and respect each others’ opinions. And at the end of the day, we recognize and accept the difference between being new parents and new grandparents. And above all, we never stop loving and praising one another. We love our parents for all that they’ve done and continue to do, and they love for who we’ve become and the parents we are learning to be.

Parenting is not easy and I believe that to be one thing that will carry on through the end of time. However, the more we continue to love and support one another, the more we can learn, share and grow together, from one generation to another.