Saturday, July 4, 2009

Words That Offend

As I read Jo's post today (A Majority of Two) I was reminded of the power our words have. Thinking before you speak is age old advice that is still (and, no doubt, always will be) relevant.

I often write my thoughts down that I would never say (unless overly provoked by someone). Recently I spoke my mind and in doing so I think I offended the people that I shared my view with. This is a couple I see every weekend and speak to them on the phone. Individually they are pleasant to talk with, but together, one is treated to a sideshow of hostility. They have two children and are constantly sniping at each other and putting each other the presence of the kids. It bothers me a great deal and prompted me to ask them why they chose to stay together.

They told me they stayed together for the sake of the children. I laughed at them and not because I was amused. Before I could stop myself I asked if they though their constant bickering was good for their children and was told that they didn't fight in front of the kids. I was astounded that they thought that and told them so. They put each other down and refer to the others less than desirable qualities in sometimes vulgar terms.....all with-in earshot of the ones they proclaim to protect by staying together. I know they were offended by my scolding. I am sure that the sniping has become a habit. I want to say that if this offense that I have committed gives them pause and they start to edit their words it will have been worth it.

Unfortunately, this weekend hasn't seen any change in the atmosphere. I feel for the kids. The oldest is ten and is wise beyond her years. Hungry for attention, she tends to want to hang out with adults and will do any thing you ask of her. She is right at that stage of innocence before puberty wins out and turns her into a teen determined to prove adults to have inferior knowledge of life. I fear that she will then begin to play one against the other in that age old game of outwitting one's parents. She has been watching and learning and it will not be pretty when this happens. I have noticed of late that she has also become a target and is told that her flaws are making her just like her mother.

All this is easy to see from the outside looking in. I don't think that this couple stays together just for the sake of the kids. I think that maybe they feed off the hostility of each other in a perverse manner and don't know how to stop. The negativity can be contagious and it takes a conscious effort to not be affected by it. I wish my words could have made a difference.........


Living on the Spit said...

As Dr. Phil says...we continue with a negative behavior or relationship because there is some sort of pay off.

Great post. I feel sorry for this couple and evn more so for the kids. Keep this young girl under your wing..she will learn to fly correctly.

Nancy said...

Don't feel bad when it is the process of protecting children. Adults that act like that in front of their children, and other adults, deserve to have their actions illuminated. I agree with Living - keep the girl around you - she needs you right now.

Good for you!

lovelyprism said...

Negativity CAN be contagious! I've seen this in my own kids (and of course it happens everyday at the local high school). I go out of my way to be pleasant to service people, but I have noticed that when I am treated rudely by, let's say a cashier at Wal-Mart, my first instinct is to be hostile in return. It definitely takes an effort to walk away from that and not let it ruin your day or change the way you treat people.

Teresa - in the Middle Side of Life said...

Yes, this girl sounds like she is going to need a friend and a role-model. I agree with Living in that she will learn the correct way.

I remember a great deal of my life being told about my multitude of negative qualities, and as such, I have a hard time seeing much good in me. Nourish the good in her and she will see past the things she needs to ignore.

meggie said...

Obviously they deserve each other, but what a bitter legacy they will leave their children. Good for you for voicing the truth.