“You’re no longer a man of good character”
Imagine that! Someone telling you that you are no longer a man of good character. Well that’s exactly what Ant McPartlin was told by a Judge this week after having pleaded guilty to a drink driving charge. I’ve not really followed Mr McPartlin’s career since the days of Byker Grove; I’ve never really been a fan of Britain’s Got Jungle Takeaway but I have admired the working partnership/relationship that he and Dec (the one on the right) have masterfully crafted over the years.
But I was massively struck and saddened by Ant’s plight over the last few weeks, culminating in his Court appearance this week. In his statement outside of Court after the Judge delivered her punishment, he appeared genuinely contrite for the accident he caused and he has already begun the process of seeking help for the reliance he has on various substances and the personal issues he is dealing with. This could happen to anyone of us, just not in the glare of the nation’s media; is his mistake really in the national interest?
This article, though, isn’t about right and wrong; it’s not even about repentance and forgiveness. It’s about the negative power that words can have over you. The quote at the top of this article, spoken to Ant by the Judge, was only the last part of the sentence (the grammatical one, not the punitive). What she actually said (having already noted Ant’s previous exemplary character) was: “I think it will have quite an impact on you to know you’re no longer a man of good character”.
Wow. This is big stuff. You’re no longer a man of good character. You’re no longer a man of good character. I completely agree with the Judge in that I think her statement to him will have a quite an impact on him. It has the power to have a really big impact on him. You’re no longer a man of good character. You’re no longer a man of good character.
Now here’s the rub: if you hear something often enough, you’ll quite possibly come to believe it, whether it’s said about you or whether you hear it said about someone else. You’re no longer a man of good character. I wonder if Ant believes he’s no longer a man of good character? Whatever he thinks, you can be sure that some people believe the Ant is no longer a man of good character. All because of the words that one person once spoke about him. Judges don’t usually choose their words on a whim; some thought will have gone into them.
It’s because of this potential damage that can be caused by words that I’m flabbergasted when I hear (or read) parents speak negatively about their children, either directly to them, in ear shot of them, or even to others when the children aren’t present. I’m a member of a few Daddy groups on Facebook; some twin orientated and some just about fathering no matter what the age or multiplicity of the children. As with all these online groups and forums, you’ll find that folk generally go on there to have a moan and air their gripes. Fair enough, everyone needs an outlet and to give the groups their due, there’s even the odd positive post that crops up too, hurrah! But increasingly there seems to be a trend for dads to make derogatory comments about their children (and also their spouse/partner).
For instance, one dad recently described his children to be arguing, kicking off, not listening to him and fighting with one another. Maybe there’s nothing too unusual there but then he compares his home to walking round a mental hostel.
In another post, someone else asked “Anyone else have that one baby that’s a pain in the arse”. The replies to this one are a bit concerning (bear in mind that all of the following are from one thread):
“Yep, my son is a dick, for the sake of it”;
“2nd born twin is a demon to put to bed”;
“Twin 1 hobby [sic] little shit”;
“it’s the first born who has claws”;
“Second born had just taken to screaming at me like a banshee for no reason, but all smiles when he goes to mum. He has that look in his eye that’s laughing at me. Dick.”;
“Both are complete dicks”;
“Yup, an absolute twat”;
“My son. Such a good baby. Sweet little boy. My daughter. Satan.”
Are these parents serious? They’re talking about their own children!
I could go on but you really don’t have to look all that far to realise that these kinds of attitudes are commonplace, have a look for yourself. It concerns me that a parent would think that way about their own child, let alone write it down and post it on the internet. Two things in particular concern me:
1) if this is your attitude towards your child, how is this affecting your behaviour towards them? And is your behaviour perpetuating theirs?
2) one day, that child you call twat, dick and pain in the arse might see what you’ve written about them (don’t believe for a minute that anything is ever deleted from the internet) and it makes me wonder how that will make them feel. Don’t forget that one day, they’ll have the duty of choosing your nursing home…
I wonder if Ant realises yet that he’s no longer a man of good character?
The power of our words have such a far reaching affect, more than we can appreciate. For the parents whose children scream at you like banshees, ask yourself why they are screaming at you like a banshee in the first place; maybe it’s because you’ve not understood their need in that moment. After all, you’re the twat with two or three decades worth of life experience; surely you must have a child sussed? Dick!
Doesn’t feel great being called that, I bet?
Children are impressionable, precious and innocent. They shouldn’t be denied any of this for the sake of a few cheap online laughs. Should a child be labelled a dick or as Satan for an outburst of behaviour that doesn’t meet your adult expectations? I don’t think so. Will your derision or disappointment hang around with them, deep seated, for the rest of their life? Quite possibly.
Now, I wonder if Ant has realised that his lapse of judgement doesn’t mean that he is no longer a man of good character. One mistake does not maketh the man…