Parenting Children who Suffer from Indulgence
Children are suffering today — children of middle class, well educated, hard working parents — are suffering.
They are not suffering from lack of food, water or hygiene. They are not suffering from neglect.
They are suffering from indulgence. And I do mean suffering.
In our enlightened culture we believe in the value and potential of children. We believe in their basic human rights — but more insidiously we also believe their thoughts should be considered always; they should be treated fairly always, they need constant attending.
Children are simply coddled too much! How will Johnny learn to get up if you never let him fall? How will he learn patience if his toy is never absconded by the neighbour’s boy? How will he learn sportsmanship if he gets a medal for losing? Parents, though intending well, get in the way of their children’s development — all. the. time.
How will he learn sportsmanship if he gets a medal for losing?
Be seen and not heard.
I was raised to sit at the table, patiently and be ‘seen and not heard’. I do believe that would have some parents seeing red — how abusive!
Actually you’re wrong. I learned that my opinion was not the most important in the room. I learned that it is more important to listen than to be heard. I learned that there is a place for me to be opinionated and it is not in front of people I should hold in high regard.
Guess what kind of employee that made me?
In fact I learned that there are people that I should hold in high regard — anyone older than I, disabled, different, expecting mothers, people with young children, almost everyone.
Guess what kind of friend that made me?
I learned respect. I learned to love and be loved. It was not expected or demanded or earned. Love is given. I didn’t earn my parents love through my loud opinions, take the best seats, and force my way through the doors first.
Guess what kind of family member that made me?
When you insist that a child’s opinion should be heard in the middle of a conversation between adults, you are teaching that child that his opinion is of equal value. When, in fact, his opinion is not.
Every child — every human — is of equal value, of course. But a 12 year old’s recounting of his day should not be heard among a conversation between guests at the dinner table. It’s an excellent opportunity to teach that child humility, patience and timing.
Let’s End Constant Consideration
I know this will create ire in a few liberal adults, but at this point, it needs to be said. This is no longer a parenting experiment — it is an entire generation of entitled, confused and ill equipped adults. It’s time for parenting to change.
It is an entire generation of entitled, confused and ill equipped adults
Children need to know that they are just children. They do not need adult worries or responsibilities. They also don’t have adult freedoms. We — as adults — have their back. We have given them guidelines and a fence. They are safe. They may play within those guidelines all day long.
A story I told my children for years: (does anyone know where this is from?)
There once was a father and daughter who enjoyed being outside almost every day. The father would sit in his deck chair, watching and waving at the daughter as she played in the tree.
Every day, when it was time to go back inside, the daughter would try to delay…it was so much fun to be in the back yard! The father, would first give her a warning. Then would count to 3. And finally, when he was angry… she would give in and head inside.
One day as the father was watching his little girl. He saw a very dangerous snake in the tree above his girl. In a quiet but urgent voice, he demanded — “Daughter — I want you to come to me very slowly…”
As was their tradition… the girl began her delay tactics. And the father watched in dismay.
We, as parents, must train our children. We know the dangers of growing up, practically and figuratively — we have the experience. And children must obey. And obey at once. There is no counting, there is no debate.
If you are an adult — you ask. The child obeys or faces the consequences. And I pray that you have trained your child to obey on first command before she’s in a dangerous situation.
Answering “why” is important to some children. It was important to me growing up as well. But answers are a luxury and a privilege. They come after immediate unquestioning obedience.
…answers are a luxury and a privilege. They come after immediate unquestioning obedience.
The Myth of Fairness
It still blows my mind when parents must buy equal toys, equal presents, equal treats — equal everything — lest Johnny blow his top!
First of all — it’s YOUR fault if Johnny blows his top. Put a stop to it! Who’s the parent in this relationship?
Second of all — life isn’t fair and you’re making it unbelievably hard for him to be a grown up if you teach him this lie.
You and I both know life isn’t fair. So I can only guess that we create bubbles of justice and fairness to appease the kids’ natural bent that way. They want fairness — we all do! We want Karma to do it’s work — we want the bad guy to get whats coming to him. We want good to be rewarded. So perhaps that is why we create this unrealistic expectation.
The only expectation of fairness that flies in my house is love and obedience. They can each expect that I will love and care for them. My oldest loves to chat. We have coffee and talk, talk, talk. She was (and is) exceedingly stubborn and has lost innumerable privileges and freedoms through the years. My middle one loves to do things together — just her and I, we walk side by side with very little talking. A harsh word is all it takes to reprimand her. She’s a sensitive spirit.
Is it fair that one gets her cell phone taken away for a week while the other gets told “no” for the same infraction? Nope. Nor should it be.
At Christmas time, they each get a gift that shows I love them and was thinking about them. It is not equal in size, weight, boxes or monetary value. Why would it be? They are each different.
Living in a world that is unfair, and yet good teaches them acceptance, that their attitude is separate from their environment, and that being different is good. Their differences and experiences make them a unique and valuable human being. It isn’t fair that we each get different good or bad experiences but it’s what we do with them that matters.
I pray that you teach your children to come to you. You know what it is like to endure hardship, celebrate the good times and cry when you don’t know what to do. That’s being an authentic adult. And that is who your child needs: you. The grown-up.
That’s being an authentic adult. And that is who your child needs: you. The grown-up.