Thursday, July 02, 2009

Hypocrisy and Self-Control

Do you use words that you don't allow your kids to use? Do you drink, but not allow your kids to do the same? Any number of other things? Are you a hypocrite for such double standards? I occasionally hear this from people.

But this is not necessarily hypocrisy. I drive a car, but don't let my kids do the same. I use power tools, knives, chemicals, etc. I also use words that my kids can't. It's not hypocrisy when the use of things have to do with the varied levels of self-control possessed by the different people in view. There are certain words I don't let my kids use, not because the words are bad in and of themselves, but because of kids' tendencies to abuse them. I know a number of families that shun their kids' use of words like "stupid," "hate," "idiot" and others like them. Most often it seems, the kids use them to attack other people (i.e. "you're so stupid!"), whereas adults tend to use them more appropriately (i.e. "I did stupid things when I was younger.") Some words and acts require a great deal of tact and self-control in using them, and exercising self-control in the right situation is hardly wrong.

1 comment:

  1. I agree, and as a European, with a slightly different take on "strong" language than most Americans (certainly most American Evangelicals) there is the added issue of using words and behaviour appropriate to the situation and to the potential audience. I am not offended by someone's use of "sh*t!" as a reaction to missing with the hammer and hitting the finger nail instead of the iron nail, but I fully understand one of my wife's Catholic friends who is distressed that her parish priest uses words like that from the pulpit. This, of course, goes to show that it isn't just kids who fail to discern appropriate and inappropriate combinations of words and situations.

    And I don't think my sons' American, Christian teachers get the idea either when they discipline kids for saying "sh*t" or "d@mn" but themselves say "sheesh" or "o darn it" by way of expletives.

    Where I personally draw the line, both for myself and in what I will discipline my kids for, is calling others by such words. It is a matter of respect for the "imago Dei" in the other person that we do not reduce them to one of the baser bodily functions by calling them some kind of an orifice or similar things.