“I Hate My Legs!”

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TheDiscipleMd

Over twenty years ago I sat at the bottom of the driveway to my house waiting for the school bus to come. Seated next to me in the car was my then six-year-old daughter, who was in first grade. As we chatted she blurted out, “I hate my legs!” Somewhat taken back and curious I asked why. She relied, “Their hairy!” Now, being a Father I was not quite sure how to respond. Should I have replied “I love hairy legs!” Or should I have asked, “Why do you say that?” or should I have just ignored it? I took the easy route. I said, “Well, talk to your mother about that!”

The reason I remember this so innocent exchange with my only daughter, is that I thought it was so funny…yet concerning. I remember thinking, “Really! Wow!” Had someone said something to her? Was her ‘hairy’ six year old legs a point of discussion on the school bus she rode? I never found out the answer but the conversation left an impression on me about ‘impressions.’

Young children are impressionable and they are very sensitive to comments both good and bad. I guess, even as adults, we are affected by compliments and criticisms! Once as a 7th grader, I was asked by a girl seated next to me if I cleaned my ears. She gave no explanation of why she asked me that question nor did I ‘dig deeper’ to find the basis of her inquiry. All I know is that I have cleaned my ears everyday since! On the other hand, when we are liberal in complimenting others, even in small ways, we are blessed, and the recipient is clearly uplifted.

As parents, teachers, and adults, let us make sure that we are careful in what we say to our precious young people. Let us look for the good in them. Let us look to compliment and let us bridle our tongues when it comes to un-needed criticisms of our youth, our children, and others. Be it something physical, mental or otherwise, words spoken both build and destroy. Let us be builders not destroyers. Being a builder of men leaves beauty in the souls of young people that can last a lifetime.

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