We were on vacation last week; and wherever we went, the twins were the talk of the majority of our passersby. I was struck by how many positive, “They are so cute!” reactions Isabel and Elliana elicited from complete strangers. I even commented to Travis at one point that the people in Wisconsin seemed more appreciative of children than so many others this mother-of-four has encountered over the past few years…. I have to remind myself of that positive impression as I sit down to write this post which springs from my musings over a couple of the not so positive (although innocent) comments the very existence of our children evoked last week.
I write not because I harbor resentment when a stranger doesn’t seem to appreciate my children as much as I do, but because I have observed and experienced firsthand a certain insensitivity in well-meaning people. And I wonder what age my children will have to be before these outspoken people will realize that my kids have ears and understanding and feelings… and that negative words springing from a sort of anti-children sentiment are hurtful to children.
One of the latest remarks to which I am referring actually came from a child herself. As my family walked into the room, a pre-teen muttered in a less than positive tone, “Man, that’s a lot of kids….” And from where did she get that sentiment?
The other of the two remarks which have provoked this post was, to me, one of the most hurtful I’ve heard. A random stranger was walking near us as we moved from one location to another at a waterpark. She was commenting on how cute Isabel and Elliana’s swimsuits are, to which I replied with a smile in my voice, “Yes, they sure are, and I got to buy two of them!” Her quick and definitive reply came, “You got to buy two, but I sure wouldn’t want twins!” The smile in my heart faded and a sadness momentarily took its place. All I could think was, “I sure hope they didn’t hear what she just said.” They were walking not two steps ahead of us.
Now, my kids have never indicated that they have noticed or been hurt by such “anti-children” comments; but if they notice and are affected by the positive comments, why wouldn’t the same be true for the negative?
Travis and I are continually showing and telling our children how much we love and appreciate and enjoy them; and I suppose I can be comforted to think that that ought to be enough to protect their little hearts from the insensitive words they occasionally hear from strangers. But still it saddens me that people can be so quick to speak, not considering that “rash words are like sword thrusts” (Proverbs 12:18 ESV)… and that the stab of their anti-children words is into the tender and impressionable hearts of the children in whose hearing they speak.
To my readers and to myself I say, let us take heed to our words–and even more so to our hearts, “for out of the abundance of the heart [the] mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45 ESV). Words don’t come forth without having some effect on the hearer. If “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21), then we can be sure that our words–good or bad–are helping to shape the people our children will become.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).