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WARNING: Nick Names Can Be Harmful

Updated on February 1, 2012

I WAS ONCE CALLED "BULL HEAD"

by my dad in an angry rage because I didn't do something exactly like he thought it should be done. "Bull head," was to mean, to him, that I would grow up to smoke cigarettes, ride motorcycles and be in a lawless motorcycle gang like Hell's Angels.
by my dad in an angry rage because I didn't do something exactly like he thought it should be done. "Bull head," was to mean, to him, that I would grow up to smoke cigarettes, ride motorcycles and be in a lawless motorcycle gang like Hell's Angels.

By loving parents and kinfolks . . .

who innocently-thought that by teasing me with this then-harmless nick name in the early 60's, I would be a more-obedient. Humble. And molded child. They were wrong. Not that I hated my parents or their kin. Hating is wrong. And hating can be as corrosive as a harmful nick name. Actually I knew "me" better than these people and I knew in my heart, even at the clumsy age of six, that I wasn't mean-spirited. Vandal-minded. Or vicious to man or beast.

But still, the nick names kept rolling. Like an old-fashioned, coal-powered locomotive, the nick names came at me so fast that as soon as I adapted to the newest. More-harmless nick name of choice, like sharp lightning in a Kansas sky, I was given yet another nick name that might help me grow into the "ideal child." Now at age 58, I can truly say this without fear that God. Or our Federal Supreme Court would condemn me, "there is no such creation as an ideal kid." Not outside of Jesus Christ, borne to the Virgin Mary and her husband, Joseph. Nope. Hate to hurt your feelings, folks. Outside of Jesus, there is no "ideal kid."


Other "playful" nick names I had to endure

"MUTTON HEAD" which I did find out in latter years was a GOOD title. It stood for an obedient. Submissive. And always-mindful child. One out of five. A pretty bad batting average for nick names.
"MUTTON HEAD" which I did find out in latter years was a GOOD title. It stood for an obedient. Submissive. And always-mindful child. One out of five. A pretty bad batting average for nick names.
"FATS" when I gained more weight than usual before I left home. When I was unemployed one time, I ate more than I would if I had worked.
"FATS" when I gained more weight than usual before I left home. When I was unemployed one time, I ate more than I would if I had worked.
"BIGGIE" and for obvious reasons. I was a big guy for my age at 14. Not obese, but what did it matter?
"BIGGIE" and for obvious reasons. I was a big guy for my age at 14. Not obese, but what did it matter?
"GUZZLER" for how I loved to drink Coca-Cola. Not with sips, but in one, long swig. (THIS GUY IS DRINKING BEER. I COULDN'T FIND A PHOTO OF A KID WITH A COKE.)
"GUZZLER" for how I loved to drink Coca-Cola. Not with sips, but in one, long swig. (THIS GUY IS DRINKING BEER. I COULDN'T FIND A PHOTO OF A KID WITH A COKE.)

I AM NOT AN EXPERT AT CHILD-RAISING

nor will I intentionally-mislead you into believing that I am. I would be telling you a lie. And living with that on my conscience will not cut it. But this I can tell you. Using what "you" think as parents, are innocent. Playful nick names, just might prove to have harmful consequences. If you think about it from your children's point of view.

My point. Words, as I was taught in my early years, were harmless. But if that be true, explain why so many teenage delinquents (remember that term?) when asked why they lived a careless life, gave basically the same answer, "well, my folks told me when I was kid that I would turn out to be no good." Proof-positive that words CAN hurt. Far more than rational adults can fathom. One "innocent-sounding" nick name today might give our society the next Charles Manson.

Oh, Kenneth. Don't be such a "drama king." Okay. Have you ever read Manson's autobiography where he talks about how he was verbally (and physically) abused as a child? I know. Manson is a convicted-murder never going to see the light of day, but this part of his persona, I believe. To wax philosophical, "actions speak louder than words." And words were a huge part of Manson's destructive lifestyle.

When my daughter was growing up, it was the popular social term to say, "loser," to your buds out of a pure heart. Just having fun. But to (some) children my daughter's age, that detrimental term lead to them leaving school. Committing crimes. And serving jail time. Please. I beg of you. Especially the young parents. DO NOT call your children "loser," or any nick name of this nature. Even in gest. And do not be offended. I am not telling you how to raise your children, but I am telling you from personal experience, what hurts and what doesn't.

I would, when I was having fun with my daughter, would, if the need arose, refer to her as, "little buddy," or a "daddy's girl," since she was my only child. I didn't see any harm in those passive nick names. And today in 2012, she is the mother of three, well-adjusted, intelligent (can you tell that I am biased?) and emotionally-balanced children who are so near the top of the "smarts list," that I cannot put it into words. And my daughter has never complained about those "terms of love in a father-daughter" relationship. I can breathe easy for that fact today.

OTHER DANGEROUS NICK NAMES USED IN THE 70'S (when my daughter was growing up):

* DORK

* RATS

* DEAD MEAT

* BRAINLESS

Can you, even for a moment, imagine calling your little one any of these corrosive nick names? I should hope not. But there were those of my daughter's age that did call each other these names that had "harm" written all over them. Where did these kids learn these nick names? Well not from each other, but mostly from their parents. Next case.

IN COMPARISON, HERE ARE SOME VINTAGE NICK NAMES OF THE 50'S:

* OL' SPORT

* CHUM

* MATE

* BUDDY

* PLAYMATE

I heard you say it. How times have changed. And to this, I agree. Times have definitely changed. But not the easily-influenced and molded minds of our young ones. These children of 2012 are as prone to grow the way they are bent from an early age as those in the early 40's. Something to think about.

And I urge you to do just that. Think before you give you child a nick name. If you don't, it may come back to bite you one day. In the form of a child who has you to blame for their inadequacies.

That is something to think about.

I WAS EVEN CALLED "LONESOME"

for the mere fact that at the age of twelve, I didn't chase girls. Desire to go to church dances and such. Thus the "innocent" name of "Lonesome." I hated that name.
for the mere fact that at the age of twelve, I didn't chase girls. Desire to go to church dances and such. Thus the "innocent" name of "Lonesome." I hated that name.

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    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      PDXKaraokeGuy,

      I know that feeling well. Fact: Last Friday night, July 20, my high school class had their 40th reunion and some of MY two-faced, low-life bullies who are now two-faced, low-life adults (I was told) were there only to be seen and heard of people. NO I didn't go. I didn't feel like vomiting on anyone at this party. I know I shouldn't harbor hatred because God Himself says not to, but I am too weak and human to lay this down because MY bullies, like yours, were not retarded. They all knew right from wrong. And being laughed at day in and out isn't fun. I can tell you that. I could go on, but I am getting upset.

      Thanks for your understanding of this subject.

      Kenneth

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 

      6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Kenneth, I'm working on a fictionalized version of my grade school bullies, who taunted me mercilessly. It's good to get that pain out :-)

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Rock on, PDXKaraokeGuy! I appreciate you taking time to read and comment on this hub that DID ressurect a lot of painful memories, but they are just that. Memories. Which fade fast--as opposed to good ones.

      Kenneth

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 

      6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      another entertaining and useful hub, Kenneth. Good work!

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Little boys love that nickname...I know. And I admire YOU, Giselle, for NOT calling your precious son a harmful nickname. YOU are way too precious yourself to do that.

      I mean what I say.

      Thanks for reading and these great comments.

      Kenneth

    • profile image

      Giselle Maine 

      6 years ago

      Superb hub, really made me stop and think! I was relieved at the end of it reading that 'little buddy' was an OK nickname - as I sometimes call my young son by that. But I never use any hurtful nicknames.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      I agree with you, catgypsy. Im so glad that after the 50's and 60' were over, in the early 70's people started learning just how good or bad words can be. Thank YOU, DEAR catgypsy, for your warm comment. I hope that you have a great weekend filled with happiness and peace of mind.

      Sincerely, KENNETH

    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 

      6 years ago from the South

      You are so right, Kenneth. Some nicknames are harmless and affectionate, but others can leave emotional scars that last a lifetime.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear Bobbi,

      What a sweet, warm, and really thoughtful comment. I am so humbled by your nice words that I don't know what to do except to give you a BIG THANK YOU and I appreciate meeting and following such a talented girl as yourself. I know that in time, I can learn from you how to be a better writer.

      Have a great night. Stay in touch.

      Sincerely,

      KENNETH

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Dearest Sueswan, Thank YOU warmly, for your observant talents that caught that line from the play I may write, "Yellow Cab Romance" in the distant future. Two strangers working in different parts of the city always leave for lunch at exactly 11:50 a.m. everyday. They always hail Yellow Cab #12-15-22-04...every day they leave for lunch at separate cafe's in the historical part of town. Just a mild"hi," maybe a gestured nod, by the man. That is all of the interaction they have. For many months. They never talk in the cab. Or out. Even the driver gets worried./////////////that's the premise of this 2-act play made for community theater. But back to reality, thank YOU DEARST Susan for your sweet comments that give comfort to me.

      Have a safe night.

      Kenneth

    • PurvisBobbi44 profile image

      PurvisBobbi44 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Kenneth,

      I voted beautiful and awesome. I hope everyone in American will read your words of wisdom, and practice them.

      If I was giving out awards--I would give you one for being a great father, and a man with a good soul.

      I am so happy you followed me or would never had known such great hubs as yours were on hubpages.

      You have made me laugh, and now you have made me proud to be one of your followers.

      Thanks,

      Bobbi

    • profile image

      Sueswan 

      6 years ago

      Dearest Kenneth,

      You are a sweetheart. LOL on " OH, did someone call a cab?"

      Have a good evening my friend. :-)

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hello, Dear breakfastpop, wonderful! And that is so sweet you being sorry for my pain, but listen to this....at no time have I ever hated my parents of kinfolks...in MY younger days...it whatever parents or our elders said that was LAW. Final. No discussion. And they were only doing what their parents did to them...it all falls under MISUNDERSTANDING the Scriptures about child-raising....sparing the rod doesn't mean BEAT your child, but administer sensible discipline. And that verse, "fathers, provoke not your children to wrath," I guess was never thought of, huh?

      Thanks for your comment!!!

      Your friend, Kenneth

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 

      6 years ago

      Dear Kenneth,

      We certainly have a deal and I am so sorry you had to endure such pain. Enjoy the weekend.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Howdy, shea! Hey, nothing wrong. At all with your son's nick name you call him. If he knows it is not harmful and you love him, GREAT. He should grow up healthy physically as well as emotionally and mentally. Thank you VERY MUCH, for the sweet comment.

      Your Friend, KENNETH

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hello, breakfastpop,

      thank you for coming by and that's okay for your daughter to call her kids "playful" names, but please, no hurtful words that will hurt them emotionally. Like I was. Deal?

      Thank you so much for the comment.

      Have a Happy weekend!

      Kenneth

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dearest Sueswan, yep. They thought if they shamed me enough, I would get out of the "shell" they said I was in. Never made sense. Id always answer, I don't want go go to that church thing or have a girlfriend. Im happy doing this...(just staying to myself). But anyway, thank YOU sincerely for your very-kind comment, Susan. I hope that you have a great day. Oh, did someone call a cab? LOL

      Kenneth

    • shea duane profile image

      shea duane 

      6 years ago from new jersey

      great hub ken! I call my son, 'noogie' or 'nooge' which means i love you but you're high maintenance... i know this is wrong because he isn't high maintenance, he's perfect. but sometimes it just comes out. i'm going to rethink 'nooge' thanks to you. 8-)

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 

      6 years ago

      My daughter calls her kids so many different names that sometimes I wonder how they know who they are!

    • profile image

      Sueswan 

      6 years ago

      Hi Kenneth,

      The only nick names I had was the ones that my dad called me and they were Susie Cue and Sueswan.

      Did they really call you lonesome? I would nick name you "Quick Wit Avery." :-)

      Time to get ready for work. Have a wonderful day.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Paradise7, LOL, that comment "stung" me good. I give you credit. You caught me looking. And I am VERY glad that you were kidding. Honest. And I offer you my sincere thanks for commenting and for visiting me.

      Take care.

      KENNETH

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hello, JS,

      thank you, kind friend. You have always built me up with your mere words. I appreciate YOU MY FRIEND for thinking about me in your comments. This was semi-serious and yes, with a dash of humor. Now, I can finally look back and laugh. To me, this may be baby steps, but steps in the healthy direction.

      God bless you.

      KENNETH

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Ms Dora, thank you, kind friend, for your comment on this hub. I sincerely appreciate that. I do not call my grandkids anything but their names and if I do use a nick name, it's positive, and not poisonous.

      Kids are what they are molded to. And by.

      Kenneth

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 

      6 years ago from Upstate New York

      My childhood nickname was "Juice", and I later became an alchoholic...just kidding!!! Just kidding! But I get your point and I think it's valid.

    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hello Kenneth! As always, you can take a serious topic and add a little humor, all while preserving the integrity of your point. Awesome job once again! Names can be hurtful and the psychological effects on a child can be devastating. You are right that only Jesus was the perfect child and there are no others besides Him! I hate when I see people in public calling their kids horrible names. Thank you for bringing this to light! Voted across the board and SHARING!

      JSMatthew~

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      6 years ago from The Caribbean

      Yeah Kenneth, we were once taught that "sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can do no harm." We now know differently. Thanks for the warning to parents. Sorry about your experiences. How would you like to be called "wise guy" now?

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