By Wm. Paul Young from his new book Lies We Believe About God.
Every child yearns to hear “I am proud of you,” not for performance but simply for being. Yet, most of us know what it’s like to feel the devouring abyss of disappointment, especially in the face and voice of others.
My father was disappointed in me—all the time. At least that is what I felt as a child and therefore what I believed. Whether or not he was, I don’t really know. We have not had that conversation yet.
There are many ways to shame a child, and sadly, many of us know this from experience. Cruel words and harsh declarations of judgment unhinge little souls from their moorings:
You are disgusting.
You’re just a slut.
You will never amount to anything.
You’re an idiot.
After all we have done for you . . .
I was happy until you came along.
I wanted a boy.
I wish you had never been born.
But there is another devastating way to shame a child, and that is through silence. The turned-away face and the little shake of the head before the door closes leave a child absolutely and utterly alone—crushed under the voiceless glance of disappointment.