A few years ago I particpated in a communication class. Our instructor told us that one of the most dangerous words in our vocabulary was the word "should" As in, you and I should never tell another person what that person should do. We were told that effective communicators always used the words "could" and would". We were instructed to delete the word "should" from our daily vocabulary. It seems that telling a person what they should do seems high handed and judgemental and leaves people feeling . . . well, I guess like they should be doing something. It seems to convey a sense of duty or obligation . . . is that so wrong??
So, I have tried to avoid the word "should" in most occasions. I have learned, since that communication class, that there are also other words that (should) could be avoided on a daily basis, especially if you are a parent and are attempting to communicate effectively with a captive audience of children. Below is the list of dangerous words in our house. These words are almost guaranteed to start a tantrum, even if they are not used in the same sentence as "should". Here we go . . .
Clean. As in please clean up your own mess. Please clean up your laundry. Please clean up after your pet. Please, wipe your own pee from the toilet seat. Please clean up your belongings from the car. No matter the context clean is a dangerous word in our house.
Homework. As in do you have homework? Do you need help with your homework? Did you turn in your homework? This is word fraught with danger.
Lights. As in did you turn out the lights in your room, the bathroom, the hallway. Do you want to pay the power bill? Did you turn on this light in the middle of the day? Why is the porch light on? Etc.
Feed. As in did you feed the cats? Did you feed the chickens? Did you feed the dog? This request is often coupled with water. Did you give the above mentioned animals water? Or, did you feed the kids? What, you don't know what they eat? Well, what do you eat . . . feed them the same thing!
Sex. With one teenage girl, one tween and two younger children in the house - who got here, btw, because their parental units had sex, you would think that sex wouldn't be taboo. Oh, but it is! My hubby and I are instructed on a daily basis to please not use the words penis, vagina, tampon, breasts, sex or anything that could be construed as sexual around the tender ears of our children. Sheesh, what else is there to talk about. I mean really has anyone listened to any current forms of music these days?
I could go on and I on, but I feel I should stop now. I think you all get the picture. For the sake of my sanity, could you please share a list of safe words? I think I might need them.