Hurtful Words Parents Say To Children

Angry words parent and child

Image from Alloutofsouts blogpost

“You should not be born. I should never have given birth to you kids.”

These cutting words rudely interrupted my serene afternoon. An Asian mother was berating her children (a boy and a girl) as they walked into the social club I belong to. Even though I do not know this mother or her children, my heart felt the sting and flinched with every word she uttered. A lump began to form in my throat. My heart felt pinched. These words were not directed at me but I felt like crying!

OUCH! What a horrible thing to say to your children!

I did not stare at the mother indignantly. Neither did I confront her.

Instead, I looked away and stared blindly at a distance and pretended that I was not eavesdropping. I wanted to give her (and her children) some privacy, because (believe it or not) I understand her outburst. This should not be taken as an agreement, but I have, (I’m ashamed to say) had some similar situations when I’m chewing out my kids and let’s just say, I uttered words that I’m not proud of.

Of course we yell at our kids. Any parent who profess that they don’t are either saints or liars.

But there are just some words that a parent should NOT say to their kids. These are the words that you regret the minute they leave your mouth. Words that you can never retrieve. Words that you wish your children did not hear you say. Words that you wish they could forgive and forget. Words that made you angrier, not at them but at yourself for even saying them. Words that make you want to crawl into a deep, dark hole and never come out to see the light of day again.  Words like those uttered by this mother.

Moving Past The Angry Words

I’m sure (at least I hope) this mother will regret her words once her anger has dissipated.

What I’ve learnt is that almost every mother has said some hurtful words to their children at some point in their parenting journey, whether intentionally or not. We are humans after all. The blessing is we can learn from this.

1. Be aware of your anger threshold and find a way to walk away before you see RED. – Like any natural disaster, there are signs that forewarn the calamity. Be familiar with the signals your body send out when you can feel your agitation rising. For example, your stomach area starts to feel warm, your temple veins start pounding, or you experience shortness of breath.

2. Know the trigger points – Some things just make you angry. Period. No reason, they just annoy you. These things are your trigger points. Found this great blog post by All Out of Sorts that shares some helpful tips on triggers and managing your angry moments. Click here for the link.

3. Find a support system - As with any compulsion, it helps to have someone to share your anxiety, angst or frustrations with. Sharing with or confessing to another trusted parent helps alleviate the pressure of guilt and strengthens your resolve to not make the same mistake twice. There is also the accountability to another adult that your ‘yelling’ does not escalate into ‘verbal abuse’. Just make sure your confidant is someone who will be helpful and not judgemental.

4. Apologize to your child/ren - If you have uttered any words that you regret, YOU OWE YOUR CHILDREN AN APOLOGY. Just as when they disrespected you and you make them apologise, it is vital that you apologize and seek their forgiveness. That’s right, eat some humble pie and let them know that you’re sorry for saying those words. And hopefully their easy forgiveness, so readily given will serve as a restraining order against such an offence occurring again. 

I found this prayer by M.S. Lowndes©  which I found helpful to keep in mind the next time you feel a verbal lashing threatening to take over in the future.

Lord, help me never say
Words that hurt another
Help me always speak with words
That will uplift and encourage.

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1 Comment
  • Zee
    March 8, 2013

    Thank you for sharing. We should never say anything hurtful to anybody, but I think the impact can be greater when the words are directed at a child from someone the child loves and respects so much. My mum has said some really hurtful words to me in a fit of anger, and unfortunately they will never be forgotten. This is why I remind myself I should never do the same to my own child(ren).

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