Adults have the wrong idea about what childhood is for.
I could be wrong. Your experience could be different. And I’m happy about that, but if you don’t already know that I talk about the larger issues (and you’re not targeted if you’re not part of the problem), this is the first piece of mine that you’ve read and maybe you should start somewhere else.
I refuse to say “some adults” because it allows people who are part of the problem to distance themselves from the fuckery.
If you’re an adult and my title statement upsets, annoys, or offends you, you are likely part of the problem.
Let me see if I can explain this properly.
None of the things that made me who I am today happened in my childhood …
Except maybe one, but I only remembered it years later, and it has something to do with a kid from kindergarten who was incredibly sweet to me and wanted us to play together, and I always left her hanging in favour of the mean but cool girls who would, otherwise, ditch me at any time themselves.
To this day, I still haven’t found her again, but it’s one of the things that will have me spontaneously crying every once in a while.
You know how in books, authors often describe several key moments that taught them a lesson when they were little, even if they ended up interpreting them like that waaaay later?
On the positive side, that’s mine. That’s all I have. Literally the only thing I would label with a big shiny + that happened before I turned seventeen.
(Which is not to say nothing good happened. I went for ice cream and had toys, but we’re talking about experiences that shaped me as a person.)
… but nearly all of those that broke me did.
I was picked on, made insecure, gaslighted, isolated, insulted and ignored, mostly by my parents, mostly in ways that you would do to a child without thinking twice because that’s how you discipline a child, that’s what forms character.
(By the by, telling your kid you never said or did X thing because you don’t feel like saying sorry, since that’s below your Grown-Up Dignity™ is still gaslighting.)
Ahh, wake up and smell the bullshit.
Pointing out your child’s flaws will not make them fix them.
“Honey, you shouldn’t have hit the cat; it hurts her like it would hurt you.”
— mistake with explanation.
“You walk like a drunk penguin.”
— pointing out a flaw that the child will feel self-conscious about and that you have no fucking business pointing out at all.
Ignoring your kid is not the way to go either.
If you’re talking on the phone and your child keeps calling out to you, and you explain “[Parent] is on the phone right now; I’ll talk to you when I’m done,” and they keep going, there’s a chance they need that attention more than you can imagine but they can’t properly express it because not only do you not inspire trust, but society has evolved in a way that portrays kids as disrespectful and entitled when they try to create safe spaces for everyone to express negative feelings, and you somehow feel like someone aged eleven is not allowed to point out you’re in the wrong, much less be angry with you, no matter what you did.
There’s also a chance your kid is a what you would define as a brat, but that’s probably still an emotional deficiency, and the cons of letting a spoiled little hyper nugget have it pale in comparison with the cons of not letting a child that needs it have it.
And since you can’t tell …
Don't fucking isolate your kid.
They got a C in Physics so you’re taking away their phone, not letting them go out (because they should study more), and also acting completely cold and distant to them.
Well, fuck you.
Let’s get this straight: You’re not letting your kid go out, or have their phone/internet/whatever, which only leaves them with you as an option to socialize, and you’re being a bag of dicks! When you decide it’s time to be an absolute piece of shit to your kid for some stupid power display, you can at least have the decency of leaving them someone to turn to.
When I was ten, I was grounded for three weeks. My parents were at work for the majority of the day, and when they came back they’d be all cold like “You’re not in the room.” Well, I wasn’t, ’cos I couldn’t leave my bedroom! My mom would bring me food so my dad wouldn’t have to see me and that was our entire interaction.
I have never been able to read analog clocks, so without the tiny emergency brick-shaped Nokia phone, I couldn’t tell what time it was, and I legitimately felt like I was going crazy.
I remember that as the first time I started vaguely considering that maybe I should die.
Not to mention that you’re flat out assuming that whatever they did, they did on purpose, or at any rate, knowing what would happen, or because they weren’t in the mood to try harder.
I had straight A’s until high school, and when that stopped because I was simply not able to assimilate information anymore, ability affected by my later diagnosed depression, it came as a shock and really shoved me deeper down into my hole, because I didn’t know where my worth stood anymore.
Bonus points: Most education systems aren’t practical, and what you do only matters for as long as you are inside the loop. Middle-school grades matter for high school, high school grades matter for college, your degree matters for your job … Not. Realistically, you probably won’t get hired in your field of study. And then what’s all that for?
You know what I was grounded for in the previous example?
My dad had decided it was time for a flat screen TV, literally telling my mom to pick the most expensive one she could find, because having lived in poverty, money drove him a little crazy, I felt, and he had to show off. Kinda like when he shoved a thousand Euro in my hand on my 18th birthday, “so you know what kinda money your dad makes, and you can brag that you made your first thousand when you were 18.” Funny he said that, when he spends some of the rest of his time reminding me how I don’t deserve anything of what I have because I didn’t work for any of it.
(Which hasn’t happened in months, BUT THE DAMAGE IS DONE.)
Anyway, I digress.
Tiny-me read the label and was like, what do you mean, liquid crystals. Would it pour if I sliced it open?
To my knowledge, diamonds could cut anything, but at the age of ten, diamonds meant those shiny little plastic gems on crappy unsealed metal rings that turn your finger green in time.
So I scratched it, literally wrote my name all over the screen.
It didn’t break, you couldn’t even see the scratches unless the damn thing was off, but my dad went ape shit.
He had never seen that kinda money, so now he wanted a blatant reminder that he had it.
I had never seen that kinda money, so I didn’t understand what it meant. I just wanted to test if I understood well enough how physics works, and what in the hell liquid crystals were supposed to be, because I might’ve been in fourth grade, but crystals were solid.
The entirety of my father’s rage and my three weeks of hell stemmed from the fact that I had stepped on his aggressive, overdone display of wealth, that was still absolutely perfectly functional.
But sure, that could not have been handled in any way, except how he did it.
If that ^ doesn’t illustrate my point, send me a message. This is getting long.
Don't insult your kid.
If you have the nerve to demand a child’s respect while you get to insult them and berate them and treat them like they have a subhuman mental capacity unless it’s to demonstrate negative traits like hypocrisy, I don’t know what’s wrong with you.
Anyway, respect is earned, even if you’re a parent, because it basically means thinking highly of someone, and you can’t force your kid to think highly of you just because you do what you obliged yourself to by becoming a parent in the first place.
Sure, there are parents who abandon their kids, and whatever the rest of the speech is, but are you gonna demand a shiny medal for not digging a hole in the ground to purposely slip under a relatively low bar?
What anybody should have for anyone else, but most of you still don’t have for your kids, is regard, AKA acknowledging that that right there is a human being with feelings and a situation that you probably don’t have enough context of to judge them.
Don’t FUCKING MANIPULATE YOUR KID.
I don’t care if you think it’s below you to say sorry, or if you want them to do something they won’t do: DO NOT BE A MANIPULATIVE PIECE OF SHIT.
A quick search on Google for “Do not manipulate your children” will yield one Huffington Post article about eight guaranteed ways to emotionally fuck up your kid, and a billion links to articles about kids manipulating parents, you fake ass whiners, but guess what? KIDS COPY WHAT THEY SEE!
Don’t tell your kid shit like “The monster will eat you if you don’t go to sleep” (ever, but especially if they have expressed a fear of that or other supernatural stuff like ghosts and skeletons, because you are literally using a child’s fear to get the easy way around a task YOU COULD HAVE ACCOMPLISHED OTHERWISE). Or even just “I won’t buy you that toy unless [blank].”
UNLESS IT IS A CLEAR AND CONSTANT RULE (e.g., if you don’t sleep after lunch, you can’t watch cartoons in the evening) that is ALWAYS being respected, don’t fucking do it, because implementing shit only when you feel like it — of course you’ll plop your kid in front of the TV most of the time, because otherwise you’d have to spend time with them — leaves the child confused and it’s no longer a rule but just something you do when convenient in order to get what you want, or in a single word, manipulate.
Do not tell your kid that you never did or said something that hurt them when they bring it up; do not call them over-sensitive. If anything, YOU are over-sensitive if you expect a child that you have trouble properly caring for to protect your delicate sensibilities, that they know nothing about because you have no idea how to communicate.
Do not mock them when they express feelings. If they’re crying, don’t pretend to cry yourself. There’s a difference between pretending and actually crying, but children as old as six can actually go from one to the other in an instant, and that’s when it becomes real and you should treat it seriously.
If you can’t tell when the switch has happened, again, I don’t know what’s wrong with you.
Also, fucking apologize. It’s not below you. This is not a 3D-print of an empty continuation of your life that you owe nothing to. This is a human being.
And for the love of god, never bring up in front of them that you spend a lot of money on them, never say that they owe you all they are, or don’t deserve what they have. You made a conscious decision to give them those things, absolutely necessary or not. They were forced into the world and never signed a fucking contract with you!
Children should know that money is not infinite, but …
“Honey, we don’t have money for that toy right now; it’s more important to buy food.”
“I swear, you eat up so much money!”
If you make a child feel guilty, they will stop asking for anything, absolutely necessary things included.
DO NOT FUCKING HIT YOUR KID!
I don’t care if it’s regular or happened once three months ago, if they weren't shutting up or if they provoked you — which is a truly alarming statement for you to make.
You don’t spank your kid because they deserve it.
No one deserves it.
You hit your kid trying to validate your own experience as seen from the eyes of the adult. You want to tell yourself that it’s completely okay that your parents hit you because that’s the only way to discipline a kid, and the only way to properly demonstrate it is to do the same as a parent.
Now I’m not saying let your kid talk over you for the rest of eternity, let them stay up till three, let them cross the street at the red light, let them call you names, but TRY to figure out what’s going on.
I can absolutely guarantee none of you want to put in the effort of implementing an alternative — actually functional — method. Because you brought a minion into the world, not a human being, and somehow you find yourselves only responsible for their financial security and nothing else, so if the little bitch —who doesn’t understand how the world works — won’t shut up and be grateful, then whatever I do, they had it coming.
You’re not entitled to shit at this point, much less the extra free time you get out of scaring them into silence and obedience rather than educating them.
If you don’t see the problem, you are the problem, and I don’t give a shit what you think.
Our childhood is not for “discipline” and “building character” in the way you’re used to. That’s just setting us up for self-destruction later. It teaches us how to ruin what you didn’t have the time to.
All of the “lessons” I got as a child didn’t stop me from being a horrible person in middle school, because I was acting on the rules my parents were acting on: feeling superior and thinking others deserved to suffer because I had too. In fact, I only became a person I am almost proud of when I realised the staggering percentage of bullshit in my upbringing.
Childhood should be about gently finding out who we are, without having to be afraid. And every single generation could be the last one to suffer, if we didn’t so desperately want to have our pain validated by the next generation having it as bad, if not worse, or if we had a different method, like, I don’t know, communication.