The Toxic Things Parents Say to Children
There is no single effort more radical in its potential for saving the world than a transformation of the way we raise our children. ~Marianne Williamson
It is nearly impossible to escape childhood without sustaining some kind of hurt. But there are statements parents make that cross the line into emotional abuse. Those scars can be carried for many years and affect emotional, behavioral and intellectual development.
The way you are parented creates your personality and your ability to develop emotional maturity and self-esteem. In the best case, you are parented in a loving, supportive, encouraging environment.
When that isn’t the case, children can become withdrawn and anxious. Words are enough to cause serious damage. The frustrations of parenting may cause a person to lash out at their child. Maybe it was a just bad day. Maybe the pressures of a failing marriage, worries about money or even a genuine concern for the behavior of the child can cause a parent to use detrimental language.
So what could you possibly say that would cause such damage?
“You would be pretty if you just lost some weight.”
You are too…heavy, short, skinny, ugly. Criticizing the appearance of a child causes unnecessary damage. By setting up an unattainable goal of perfection, parents set goals for their children that can never be reached.
Sending the message to a child that their self-worth is based on how they look sets up a lifetime of frustration that can never be overcome. We each have value that has nothing to do with our appearance. That is the only message we need to send.
“Why do you act so strange?”
By picking out little idiosyncrasies and criticizing them, you make your child feel self-conscious. Being criticized by your parent in this way sends the message that something is wrong. Children feel this kind of criticism deeply.
A child who experiences this kind of abusive talk will go out in the world feeling paranoid that others will judge them in the same way.