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Five things you should not say before your children


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Be warned!Children are probably the most sensitive entities you will ever encounter. As a parent, you will be familiar with the feeling that they are soaking up everything you say or do, observing the minutest details…

All the more reason for you to take great care of what is said in front of them. Here is a list to consider:

Never say to your child ‘I wish I had never had you!’. While every parent is excused for having such a feeling at least once with each child, (my own variation was the wish - ‘I wish I could return you back to the shop!’) saying such a thing out loud even once can be very harmful. Saying it regularly sows the seeds of a feeling of deep rejection in the child that affects his or her relationships with others lifelong.

Never say, with great anger, or contempt, ‘You’re just like your father/mother!’ This has the double effect of conveying your bitterness towards your partner, while at the same time making a child feel he or she is punishable for genes!

Never use sweeping generalities like ‘Everybody’s a liar, out to cheat you,’ ‘There’s so much competition, its becoming impossible’, or ‘All (members of a particular community) are strange/criminal/dangerous’. Such statements make your child feel that he or she is living in a cruel, merciless world, and encourage cynicism. They also breed hatred for people different from one’s own family or community. It is for children brought up with a steady diet of such statements that President Abdul Kalam had to work so hard - to re-awaken dreams, instil a vision for themselves and country, and remain hopeful.

Never have an argument about perilous finances or treatment of each other’s parents before your children. Finances can be quietly discussed at a private time - even if they are in crisis. Encourage your children to have a responsible attitude to money by presenting them with the findings of such a discussion afterwards. Don’t scream at each other about the lack of respect you feel your partner has for your parents. This may cause the children to mimic either one of your behaviour, whereas the fact is that they should have their own happy equation with grandparents.

Never convey feelings of extreme depression, ‘I wish I were dead’ or ‘What’s the use?’ kind of despair before the children. Where are children to learn about facing up to anything in life, if not from you? Feeling sad occasionally, or even being worried for a longer period is OK. But it is important that children perceive you as applying yourself to the crisis, or as prepared to meet anything that happens. It is more important that they see you as a soldier trudging along rather than as a general retired in defeat.

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Responses to Five things you should not say before your children

  1. 1 Jayashree

    Superb article! unfortunately not all have access to these articles.
    children have suffered and keep suffering all kinds of abuse at home.
    good work.

  2. 2 Basant

    It’s a superb article. we the fathers should have a lesson from it.

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