Saturday, August 23, 2008

Words Matter

Back several months ago, I attended parenting classes. I remember part of the session being dedicated to "Languaging" and the impact that words have on children.  While there were many key learnings during class, this concept has really stuck with me as I understand and appreciate the power of words and how they can shape perceptions and define worth.  As part of a class assignment, we were asked to practice telling a classmate our child's story (where they came from and under what circumstances). Many of us were challenged as it became clear that communicating the realities of her story could come across as potentially shameful and confusing and as a result manifest into negative feelings about themselves, their birth families, their culture and their country.

There is no doubt that there is a crisis in Ethiopia that is resulting in extreme poverty, disease and orphans but there is also no doubt that Ethiopia is abundant in so many positive ways. I have learned this first hand by falling in love with the rich history, culture and art. So this idea of sharing my daughter's story stays with me and I think about it a lot.

Then yesterday, I came across the below post from a fellow blogger (& waiting mother) that made so much sense to me in regards to telling Ethiopia's story:

I think that if we are going to be the country's ambassadors, they (Ethiopians) want us to tell people that they are under incredible strain and fighting against difficult odds and our children are evidence of their effort and not their failure. I think they would rather that we talk about what the government and its citizens are doing to ensure the welfare of children and families. I think they want us to talk about the important impact that they have had on the rest of the world in art, sport, culture, song, and history. 

There is an old song by the Winans called Millions. The song says, "Millions didn't make it but I am one of the one's who did. I made it over. I came through hard trials and tribulations, persecution but I was one of the one's who did." I think they want us to say that for those who will not make it to the U.S.A our children carry their hopes, their strength, their resilience, and their faith. As long as our children live they will always represent the hope of what will come.

I thank Valkyrie for sharing her wisdom and completely agree and check out these beautiful Ethiopian hand woven baskets.