Friday, May 6, 2011

Sticks. And Stones. And Words.

To this day my mother finds it necessary to tell me what an awful little child I was.


A terror.

Two thoughts come to my mind as these things come up. As I look at my lovely, spirited, sometimes challenging daughter I wonder how anyone could possibly label their child with such awful words, no matter what they were doing. I also wonder why there is any need to keep talking about this nearly thirty years later.

Perhaps it bothers my mother that I have a completely different outlook on parenting and children than she did. Perhaps to admit that I really wasn't such a horrible little demon after all would cause her to have to re-examine her role as a parent. I don't know. I know that my actions so often retold (over and over again) don't really seem that out of the ordinary to me. I dumped all the diapers out of the pail and all over the floor? I'm sure many a child has done that. Was jealous of my little sister, unsure of my new-found role in the family and acted out for love and attention? Check, check and check.

For over thirty years I have accepted the "fact" that I must've been a really difficult child. Becoming a mother (and growing personally in my role as one) (and therapy) has made me realize that there really wasn't anything wrong with the way I acted as a child. I was normal. I wasn't a bad three year-old, nor was I a terror to be around. I was a kid. A kid who did kid things and expressed myself the only way I knew how.

Perhaps these realizations are what makes me really ache when Beanie is having a rough time. I view what she's experiencing through the eyes of three-year old me. But it's not the same for her. She's free to be whomever she wants to be, her parents love and support her no matter what she does and we enjoy the good times and take the more difficult ones as opportunities to grow.


  1. One of the most emotional aspects of parenthood, for me, is to love and raise my daughter as I wish I had been-- and my parents were very loving. I was labeled "shy" in public when really I just needed a little time to warm up and a hand to hold while I did it. When we see pieces of ourselves in our children, I think we can heal our own hurts even as we love them as individuals.

  2. Great post Kristen! I can totally relate as I was labeled the "difficult" or "bratty" one as a child. To this day, I still have to hear stories about how "terrible" I was. The only good thing is that by being labeled those things as a child, it does let me see things differently when my daughter is frustrated or upset. I personally don't see anything wrong with a strong personality (even in a toddler!), doesn't that just mean they will grow to be independent thinkers?

  3. Posts like these make me really appreciate my parents, and really make me thankful that I was raised in such a supportive environment. I hope to emulate that for my children! Enjoy Bubbie's spirit - it will enrich your life more than an always-well-behaved child ever could. "If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun" - Katherine Hepburn.

  4. My parents kept the good and bad labels to a minimum, but there was always a lot of talk about how clingy I was as a baby, and how poorly I slept. It caused a lot of sleep anxiety in me that I'm pretty sure made my problems harder to get over. Looking back on it all, I'm pretty sure that things would have been better for all of us if my parents had co slept, but they didn't.
    It's so wonderful that you can move beyond the labels you had as a child and just embrace your own children for who they are.

  5. I can totally relate to this post! My sister's kids get this all the time, and it makes me so sad... They are not bad kids, they are just kids! I know what it is like to grow up believing you are not good enough, and I wish more parents would think about what their words can do to kids...

  6. I dunno about all the other stuff, but chopping off your little sister's hair was pretty bad ;)

  7. Sometimes it's just the family structure for each person to take their role. Sometimes it's the wall flower, sometimes it's the drama monger, sometimes it's..... And as normal as you were as a child, I think you're exceptional now! (in the good way!)

  8. Good for you Kristin! It's so important to filter the WORDS we use with our kids, and especially the words we use to LABLE our kids. We are truly playing with fire. It's good that you aren't letting yourself be defined by your mom's need to constantly bring up her opinions of your childhood behaviour, and also good that you are doing your best to not let that shape your own child negatively either. Parenting is not easy, that's for sure. But we need to be careful not to blame our kiddos for that. You're right - kids need a chance to be kids!

  9. I relate! I was the "bad" one and at one point in time my mom told me I was the reason their marriage fell apart. Nice, right? Thankfully it's taught me to be pretty careful with words with Scotty. They remember everything. And if he's anything at all like me, he'll hold grudges forever. I still haven't forgiven my mom for many of the things she's said to me (even in the last few years).


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