The power of our words, and giving our children a voice

imagesHow’s it going? A question I hear often in regards to my 13 year old step-daughter, M, moving in.  How do you respond to such a question?  It’s both a difficult and inspiring situation.  I am continually inspired by M’s strength, compassion, wisdom, and huge heart.  I am equally frustrated, annoyed, and brought to my knees by my struggles to find my place in this new dynamic and my perceived lack of parenting knowledge.

But honestly, any time I am struggling, I am subsequently inspired.  Yesterday, feeling frustrated and conflicted when I got home from work, I had the pleasure of a powerful conversation with M.

Teens these days have access to the world; social media rules their lives and words can be flung anonymously.

We all know that words inspire, that the right word in the right moment can ignite a fire.  But M reminded me how the power of our words can bring others to their knees, and often we have no idea. She reminded me of the power of grace, love and compassion.  That when we give our children a voice, and hear what they are saying, more often then not what comes out is powerful, inspiring, and spot on.

Yesterday someone posted on M’s askfm page that she was a bi_ _ h, full of herself, and that she should go back to Texas.  Now you would think a 13 year old girl would get annoyed with being called a bi_ _ h or full or herself, nope!  This 13 year old knows that even if they are saying not so pretty things, if they are saying anything at all, they are still thinking about you.  (I admire her confidence)

What stung and brought this powerful young woman to her knees was the go back to Texas.  Whoever posted probably thought nothing of it, she is from Texas, I am mad at her so she should go back.  But for a young woman fighting everyday to find her place in the world, to overcome guilt and sadness for leaving her mother and sisters to come to PA, and who gracefully handles all the situations life has thrown her way with love and compassion, the simple phrase hit a cord. But the most powerful reminder came from M herself.  She looked at me and said, “People have no idea what their words can mean or trigger for other people.”  For her this simple seemingly harmless message, brought up the past, painful situations, and realities that a 13 year old is trying to process without losing herself.  She wasn’t angry, she wasn’t hating on whoever posted.  She was acknowledging what made her feel not so great without creating a story around it, without blaming or judging the person who posted, powerful and mature insights from a 13-year-old.

Many people says, “oh you didn’t have the cute years to get you through the teen years,” when they find out M decided to live with us full time this year.  But it is moments like the one yesterday that you hold onto when she is kicking the dog, or yelling at you to move out.  It is moments like yesterday that remind you to keep going and to keep trying when you are ready to throw in the towel.  It is hearing her voice that inspires me to move from a heart centered more compassionate place.

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