We were having dinner at a food court when I heard someone say, “You’re a liar!”
I turned and realized it was a father who was saying that to his teenage daughter. They were seated at the table next to ours. It looked like the father was reprimanding his daughter for something she had done. He wasn’t exactly shouting but he was certainly loud enough for me to hear him.
“You’re a liar! You’re a damn liar!” The father told the teenager repeatedly.
The teenager’s defense was inaudible and the father continued to rain harsh words on her. The teenager just kept looking down. Seeing that, it made me realize that most time of the time when I happened to glance in her direction, she was looking down.
As the father continued with his scolding, the teenager fidgeted with her phone. That angered her father and he said, “Give me the damn phone! You *inaudible scolding*. You’re a liar!”
The teenager handed her phone over as the father snatched it away. At this point, the mother and a younger boy return to the table and the father immediately toned down. He handed the teenager a food court card and said, “Go and buy something to eat!” The teenager tried to say something again but was defeated by her father’s harsh tone. She got up from her chair and walked away with a downcasted look.
The mother tried to ask the father what happened but I couldn’t hear what the father said. Not that I was trying to eavesdrop but I was curious about what the girl had done for him to call her a “damn liar”.
Eventually, the whole family got up to leave and while the mother walked with the younger boy, the teenager kept a distance from her father and followed quietly.
Clearly I have no idea what the teenager did to warrant the title of a “damn liar” from her father.
One thing was clear to me though – the girl was hurt.
And that scenario totally reminded me of how it was like between my own father and I when I was a teenager. I wasn’t close to him. My memories of my father during my teenage years was him condemning me and using harsh words on me.
As I shared what I saw with Ben, I told him that if our kids ever did something that we needed to scold them about, we have to be mindful of our choice of words. Don’t use harsh words in a fit of anger. I also shared with Ben that we should be more conscious of where and when we reprimand our kids. If need be, we should pull them aside, away from public eye.
Hearing that father call his daughter a “damn liar”, I felt hurt on her behalf. The father didn’t even give her a chance to explain or say anything. That was exactly how my father used to be and it hurt.
May we remember to always be aware of the words we say to our kids, and give them a chance to speak.