This is the first of what I hope will be many posts by guest bloggers. Want to join the conversation about teens, mothering and the whole wonderful mess? Contact me here.
What is it about the word “whatever” that gets people so worked up? In 2009, 2010 and 2011, it was judged the most annoying conversational word or phrase in the English language by the Marist Poll. Nearly four in ten adults in the United States found this word obnoxious.
Whenever someone doesn’t want to commit to a particular opinion, choice or course of action this word gets trotted out. The excessive use of the word, however, is only part of the problem. It is the attitude that accompanies the word that really gets people hot under the collar. Think about it. Whenever someone (as in your teen) says the word “whatever” she generally rolls her eyes, curls her lip and apathetically shrugs her shoulders. These gestures convey an air of contempt along with a “count me out” stance.
The subtext to “whatever” is: “I don’t care, and I’m not prepared to take any responsibility.” No one with integrity would adopt such an attitude. No one who wants to take action, to inspire others, to do good, would adopt such an attitude.
Most people associate “whatever” with teenagers. The media feed this perception, but the all too frequent use of the word by teenagers doesn’t help the situation. Words matter. “Whatever” is rarely a good answer to any question. It is simply a contract one forges with disempowerment.
Guest blogger Shale Preston, Ph.D., is the author of Getting Beyond “Whatever”: The Guide to Teen Self-Esteem and Happiness. (http://gettingbeyondwhatever.authorsxpress.com/)