"You know, he was always like a fish out of water around her...poor Lumpers, never mind, I says, plenty more fish in the sea, plenty more."

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sorry, kiddo.

Should have is the modal auxiliary past form that is used when regretting or speculating about past actions, and is one of the most regrettable usages in the English language. It’s worse than four-letter words because should have has the power to make one feel guiltier, sadder, sorrier, more regretful, and more frustrated and more ashamed than is necessary. Should have can lead to depression. Should alone is okay. Should is handy to teach, inform and reassure, like "you should eat breakfast, because it’s your fuel to start the day." Or, "I should be home by 7 tonight." But should have? "See, you should have eaten breakfast, then you might have passed your math test!" :-C

The thing is, my parenting started out with should, but along the way, it turned into should have, which doesn’t help my son at all. It’s just me commentating and making him feel like a failure. So, today is the first day of Change For The Better. And instead of saying I should have kept my mouth shut, I will stick with the simple future tense and say, “I will shut up and I will trust the boy to learn from his mistakes.”

1 comment:

Carol said...

It is so true that we can have a significant impact on our childrens' lives - right into adulthood - through the simple act or withholding criticism. As an adult I am amazed how the criticisms of 40 years ago continue to shape the way I talk to myself today. I think "should have" might have an even longer lifespan than radioactive waste.