Words Always Carry Weight

Words Always Carry Weight
“Just wait until you have kids.”
“Want to take one of ours?”
“Enjoy your freedom while you can!”
“You’re tired? How? You don’t even have kids!”

Said to garner a laugh, maybe. For a moment of solidarity with another parent. Or perhaps as a way to say to the childless couple “You don’t have it as hard as we do…just wait.”

Always said in jest, and yet to the childless couple or the single adult, it can feel like a slap in the face. It can feel like a discounting of the beauty of the very thing they’ve spent months, or maybe years, longing for. It can feel like a twisting of the knife in their deepest place of pain. Because maybe they would give everything for the moments of kid chaos you complain about.

But there’s something else. Kids listen. They hear the “I can’t wait til summer’s over so I can get away from these kids” and the “are you sure you want to be parents?” jokes. Kids know what the comments—even those made in jest—insinuate: that they cause stress, that they are “a lot”, that their presence is a burden rather than something to be enjoyed.

I think a lot of our culture’s language surrounding parenting hides disrespectful language towards kids under jokes made for a moment of solidarity between parents. And it makes me uncomfortable (and angry too). Children are humans. They are a part of the family. They deserve respect. and honestly, the joke isn’t that funny. It’s not worth the pain it could cause.

Is it difficult to be a parent? Absolutely. Are you stressed and tired? Undoubtedly. But it’s a life circumstance that (in most cases) you’ve chosen, and it’s a beautiful one at that.

There are places to share burdens, and I do think we should be honest about difficulties (when appropriate). But children deserve to be respected, and one of the biggest ways we can do that is in how we speak about them, both when they’re around and when they’re not.

I guess I just wish people were more caring with their words. Because even words said in jest linger and wound. And children of every age, size, and ability are beautiful wonderful delightful little miracles. Let's take a moment before we speak to consider how to care for each other. 

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