Although the old adage says, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” we all know the truth that contradicts this old saw. Some words cut to the core, flay the spirit, and destroy self-esteem. Once spoken and heard, such toxic words cannot be taken back, “unheard” or forgotten. Forgiveness may follow, but the memory of such verbal poison and the emotional message they convey, will linger. The scar will remain as a permanent memory of a painful experience.
Adoptees are predisposed to feelings of shame and inadequacy. Being mindful of this vulnerability, parents must commit to holding an absolute boundary regarding certain toxic, emotionally devastating phrases. Regardless of the buttons kids may push or the emotional hand grenades they lobby, this boundary must remain solid. There is NEVER justification for the use of such “Black Box” phrases as:
“I wish we’d never adopted you.”
“My biological children would never be like you”
"Adopting you was a big mistake”
“You should be grateful we adopted you.”
“Maybe I’m not your real mom/dad but you’re not my real kid either.”
“You’re so puny, or such a big Amazon, or ____ (insert a phrase that attacks your child’s being.”
What other toxic talk might be fatal to your relationships as a family? When your kids say deeply hurtful things to you, how do you remain calm and “adult” and resist the urge to retaliate?