The Write Way — Linguistic Parenting

Article Categories: , .
Default Image

© GWTW

Carrie De Simas

Published author.
Workshop leader.
Proud mama.

Last week my father came for a visit, during which my six-year-old was trying to pack his backpack for an outing and getting increasingly frustrated. Turns out that every car he owned would not fit into the blue Puma bag no matter how hard he yanked on the zipper. 

He muttered in frustration and my father’s head turned. My father looked at me with a quizzical look, so I asked my son what he had just said.

“I said ‘damn bag’,” he explained. 

“Why?” I asked him.

“Because the zipper won’t close and now I have to take some of the toys out to make it work.” 

“Oh. Okay.” And I went back to getting myself ready to go. 

My father’s facial expression seemed to ask for an explanation, so I provided one: He used the word in the correct way so it’s all good.” 

My six-year-old is highly perceptive and had noted the unspoken conversation happening between my father and I and thus asked what was going on. 

I explained that damn is considered a swear word and some people might get upset when they hear swear words, especially from a young person. 

He asked if he shouldn’t say it any more. 

My response? Words are just tools to communicate. 

Use them properly. 

Don’t use them to hurt other people. 

And it’s all good. 

But I warned him to be aware that some people will react when they hear certain words. 

That’s the thing about words. If we empower words to cause harm, then we are simultaneously empowering people to use them as weapons. 

It’s easy to pull out a linguistic gun and shoot at people (e.g., asshole, bitch) and get a response. But if you disempower words then the onus of intent and responsibility will remain with the speaker. 

Thus, those speakers looking to offend will have to think harder and be more creatively clever to get a rise out of someone.

Basically speaking, it means people will have to think.

Most people don’t want to put that much effort into trying to offend, and will move on, likely muttering words under their breath and retaining their anger instead of flinging it onto other people. 

 

***

Carrie De Simas is the author of Brandish Success. She teaches workshops and writes for entrepreneurs. Currently, she is working on a children’s series set to be published by Qoz Publishing in Fall 2018.