May 8, 2017

Stick and Stones May Break My Bones, But Names Will Never Hurt Me

Remember hearing that as a child?  I do.  I said it.  I believed it.  And then I didn’t.  Names DO hurt, even if they aren’t “really bad, mean names.”  They can burn a memory into your brain that can haunt you.  My son, who is six, is one of the younger children in his 1st grade class.  Next to his 2nd grade soccer buddies, he’s a bit vertically challenged, although he’s considered “average” in height.  Nonetheless, when he came home in tears the other day because an older child called him “shorty,” he undoubtedly felt the sting of name-calling.  Welcome to the real world, my sweet, darling son!  We have all experienced it, to some extent, and it stinks.watercolour-1766301_1920

Rather than utter that renowned phrase to my son, my collaboratively-trained lawyer brain went into “better-get-more-information” mode. The conversation went like this:

Me:        How did that make you feel when he said that?

Son:       Sad.

Me:        Mmmmm….I can see that…

Son:      And angry…

Me:        Definitely!  (Pause).  So, what happened next?

Son:       (without missing a beat) I grabbed the ball out of his hands, dribbled it down the court, and made a basket.

Me:        (Stunned!)  Wow!  That is AMAZING!  (Beaming with pride…that’s my boy!)

So, my son “shows up” this kid by making a basket, yet he was still upset (hours?) later and recalls the name-calling rather than his awesome basket?!  This certainly illustrates words have a HUGE impact on others, whether we realize it or not.  It doesn’t have to be name-calling, either.  It can be just the language we use and the way we say it.  The tone in our voice can turn an otherwise innocuous comment into a heated argument.  So…STOP.  Take a DEEP breath (and maybe throw a stick at some THING).  THINK before you speak, and CHOOSE your words carefully.  Then go shoot some hoops.

Audra HolbeckABOUT THE AUTHOR
Audra Holbeck
Attorney, Holbeck Law Office

Audra’s office is in Woodbury, Minnesota and she limits her practice to Collaborative Family Law and Mediation. She received her degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and her law degree from William Mitchell College of Law. She has been actively involved in the Collaborative Law Institute since 2004 and is passionate about helping her clients create realistic and workable settlement options. She believes family disputes can (and should) be resolved outside the courtroom, in an environment that allows the family to reorganize, engage in healthy and effective communication, and move forward. Learn more at www.HolbeckLaw.com

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