Thursday, March 27th, 2014
I can only hope that the reason so many people disagreed with my follow-up post on coddling your kid is because I used poor examples. My post focused on constantly seeing parents “asking” rather than “telling” their kids to do the right–and obvious–thing. My specific examples were when one kid took Emmett’s toy and the parent failed to have him give it back. The other was a little girl sitting on top of a slide for 10-15 minutes and the parent not having her come down or move out of the way so other kids could use it.
What I said repeatedly was it was part of a larger problem we have with parents afraid to teach their kids proper boundaries. Guys: IT WAS EMBLEMATIC OF A LARGER PROBLEM!
But my mistake was ranting on two examples where the punishment didn’t fit the crime. In my mind, I’ve seen so many ludicrious situations of parents not parenting, that these put me over the edge. However, it’s my bad for not conveying better scenarios. And thus, many of you just saw a crazy lady ranting over a toy.
What I should have ranted on is the kid who threw Fia off the swing 6 months ago because he was jealous that his mother was pushing her. The mom simply shrugged, hugged him, then said, “He gets jealous if I even look at another kid.” As if that is n-o-r-m-a-l.
I should have ranted on the kid who threw sand in Emmett’s face 4 different times and was allowed to continue. We left the area. Not him.
My original examples weren’t strong enough to call parents idiots. But I hope these are.
Or what about the kid who came over for a playdate, found a 4-foot stick in our yard and started waving it around, nearly decapitating Fia. The mom’s response? “I like it when he experiments. I don’t like to tell him no.” Oh, okay. Well I will.
“Hey Simon, can I take that stick so we don’t hit somebody?”
“No!” he shouted and ran off with it.
(Of course looking back I realize my fatal flaw: I asked. Didn’t tell.)
I decided to use distraction to get the stick-weilding maniac and idiot parent to move on to something less dangerous. I turned on the hose so they could splash around. Guess what he did? In a matter of seconds, he turned it up all the way, sprayed the entire side of our house (where the windows were open, thus drenching our kitchen), then sprayed Fia in the face. Of course, I immediately turned it off. Not because the mom told me too. She had no real problem with it. All she said was, “Simon, we really shouldn’t spray water at people should we?” Oh perfect. Let’s ask him. He didn’t give a sh-t. He had no boundaries. Needless to say we never had a second date.
Now, tell me, all of you who disagreed with me: Do you still? Do you possibly see what I’m saying?
People seem to be fixated on my two examples and are losing the forest through the trees. Maybe that’s because they don’t want to see it. The people who have experienced what I have totally understood my points and I thank you for backing me up.
“I completely agree with you! This is what is wrong with so many children today. They are brought up without correction or proper guidance on what is right and wrong. I am always the one to back down and direct my children to something else just because of a misguided child and I’m tired of it too.”
“I sincerely hope myself and especially my child do not ever have the unfortunate fate of running into such a distasteful mother. I can only imagine how this woman’s children will turn out.”
I will tell you how they are turning out: polite, patient, well-behaved, and not jealous of my love for them or any other child. But when I said that in my follow up, I got chastised for “bragging.”
I find myself not only hated but also completely perplexed by those who don’t “get” what I’m saying. Luckily, I’m not alone. Just Google “entitled kids” and you’ll see the epidemic it’s become. It’s debated on talk shows and news programs, it’s repeatedly a front-page headline on many mainstream magazines and newspapers, and it has nearly taken over the blogosphere. So I do get comfort knowing that most people who disagree with me are “those parents” whom so many of us are taking issue with (unless my examples were poor–which I take responsibility for–and now you get it). So don’t worry. I don’t want a playdate with you either.
I went to a parenting seminar at Fia’s school this week. A woman who is a registered nurse and a professional educator in the parenting arena taught it. Her name is Amity Hume Grimes. She’s not famous; she doesn’t have a book (yet). But what she told a crowded room of parents seemed to resonate with all of us. Here’s what she said when I asked the question: “Should you ask your kids to do something like give a toy back, or should you tell them?”
“If there’s not a choice to be made, then you don’t ask. You tell. The only time you would ask in that situation is if you wanted to give them a choice on whom to give it back to, i.e.: “Do you want to hand it to me or put it back on the ground?” You don’t just stand there asking a toddler over and over if they want to give it back. Especially if the toddler isn’t responding.”
Sidenote: I’m not talking about autistic or special needs kids in any of these scenarios. I know that is different.
She also concurred that parents nowadays are so afraid of tears and tantrums. They want to keep their kids shielded from any discomfort, which isn’t smart. Or good. Mainly because it’s completely unrealistic. You aren’t setting your kid up for real life if they’re constantly coddled.
“Children need to experience the consequences of their own actions in an age-appropriate manner in order for them to develop into self-confident, responsible individuals,” Grimes says.
Amen. Parenting is not a democracy. And if you treat it as such, it will backfire and the world will be a place of high-anxiety for your child. Not to mention a nightmare for the rest of us. Is that what you want? Like she said, tantrums and tears are the only way young kids can express their frustration. So let them. And teach them in the process.
I challenge any of you naysayers to find me a parenting expert who says kids should never cry, they should never be told what to do, and they should only be asked and given choices. And by god, find me one who thinks it’s okay if a 4- or 5-year-old gets jealous if you hug another child. It happens, but shouldn’t it be worked on? Don’t you want your child to have self-confidence and security that you have enough love to go around? When you find that person ask them if it’s also okay to hit, pull hair, throw sand, take toys or hog a playground without any consequence.
Ask them if a mommy blogger (me) who says that she parents with love, patience, and guidance, thus producing polite, well-adjusted kids, is “bragging.”
Oh, and while you’re at it, I would also love for you to find a parent who likes to brag about their self-indulgent child and their neglectful parenting practices.
“Simon hit a girl with a stick and I was so proud!”
So there you go.
The past two playground trips have been amazing for me. Why? Because for some reason there are a lot of grandparents around right now. And man, do they ever get it. Emmett and a boy his age played with toys they both brought. The grandparent encouraged his grandson to play and share and I did the same. They had so much fun. No one grabbed. No one hit or threw sand. But that grandparent was patient, loving, and firm.
Fia had the same experience just yesterday with a little 3-year-old girl and her grandfather. They played ring around the rosy, hugged, went down the slide together, and did the swings. We didn’t have to intervene once. It was clear these kids were raised with rules, boundaries, and love. And I’m guessing there were probably a few tears and tantrums along the way.
So maybe all you who disagree should ask yourself this question when it comes to society’s epidemic of coddled kids: Are You Part Of The Solution? Because it not, then you’re part of the problem.
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