Words that make me cringe


“Wipe that look off your face!”

Every time Dad said this to my child self, it struck my heart with fear, because I really and truly had no idea what he was talking about.  I was scared shtless at those times. Today, I know he didn’t like me looking at him like he was some kind of monster; he didn’t like the fear in my eyes.  Back then, though, I was completely bewildered

And, of course, he blamed me for looking at him that way, when he could have easily put an end to it by ending his tirade, taking me in his arms, and apologizing. I loved him and would have forgiven him. Instead, I was left to search my mind for other faces to wear, finding none that fit. It was like running for cover in a hailstorm but finding none.

That is the beginning of this recent post by my friend, Barb, whose blog is Half Past Kissin’ Time.  In it she shares a childhood memory of her sometimes verbally abusive father that made me want to cry.  After reading it, I will forever cringe if I hear the words, “Wipe that look off your face!”   

The Barb I have gotten to know over the several years we have been blogging friends is a self-confident, successful wife, mother and teacher of problem children.  If it wasn’t for the occasional posts she has written about her sometimes unhappy childhood, I would never guess that this pretty blonde has had anything but a charmed life.  (And she does sometimes share sweet and funny childhood memories too.)

But this particular post really touched me.  It made me picture a small fearful child being ordered to do the impossible and stop showing their fear on their face, by a parent who they want very badly to please.

After reading her post maybe you, like me, will wonder about how we may have said things in anger to our own children.  Maybe not as obvious as this, but still words that would hurt in ways we could never predict.  It would be easy to do, especially if you had never heard it described, as Barb touchingly does, about how it feels to be the child on the receiving end.

May God bless those of you currently raising children with patience, fairness and love to temper the discipline necessary when dealing with your precious but sometimes exasperating little gifts from God.

And may God bless Barb in every facet of her life, but especially in her work with teenagers with emotional and social problems.  It seems obvious to me that the tough experiences in her own childhood have made her an especially capable and empathetic teacher of those teens.


8 Responses to Words that make me cringe

  1. carlahoag says:

    It’s so easy to forget that they are children and not small-sized adults.

  2. Sandra says:

    That is so true, Carla.

  3. C. Beth says:

    What a great reminder, Sandra. Thank you. And thank you for the prayers, which are definitely needed!!

  4. Sandra says:

    Beth — I don’t think it hurts any parent to have a reminder like Barb’s. But, unfortunately, parents like you who take it to heart are, I think, typically the ones least likely to need it. Sad, but true.

  5. C says:

    I remember being the the car one day and my own little son saying one day–with obvious trepidation: “Mom, are you in a bad mood?” It made me realize that the stress of my job was coming with me when I came to get him at the end of the day. He did not cause my stress, nor did he understand it. In his eyes, he must have been the cause, because he had no way of knowing otherwise. It broke my heart. I can’t say that I always remembered this lesson, but I tried. C

  6. Sandra says:

    C — Luckily, as long as we were trying, we (and our kids) were okay. The danger was that we would stop trying!

  7. I was brought up in a household where discipline ruled, but truly harsh words were never uttered. When I met my husband’s family, I was actually appalled at some of the hurtful words flung at the children, words that cut to the bone, like, “I wish you’d never been born!” and “I don’t care what happens to you!”
    And yep, those children (except, thank goodness, for my husband) grew into troubled adults who treat their own children the same way.
    Just stopped by to say thanks for visiting my blog and leaving such a nice comment. But now I’ll add, thanks for such a thought-provoking post.

  8. Sandra says:

    Ethel Mae — When you are growing up you have no idea that there is any way of parenting except how you are parented. But now I can look back and see that those who were lovingly but consistently disciplined were the ones who were REALLY loved. Lucky you. I was loved, but I was spoiled. That’s nice — until you get out in the world and the world isn’t nearly as kind about the way it teaches you the lessons you need to learn!

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