Sunday, June 14, 2009

Parenting thoughts

I know this is a very sensitive topic. And because of the sensitivity of it, I will not be linking to anyone's blogs that I might mention here. The few blogs I have in mind are favorites of mine, the authors are people I like very much. My intention is not to question them personally, but rather to express my wonderment for what parenting has become compared to what it used to be.

First, why do kids get to run the show now? Why don't kids have parents who parent? I see children in stores when I'm out, and mom or dad (but usually mom) is trying to have a conversation with someone/talk on the phone/think straight and the child wants attention. I watch these parents flip into autopilot, and give said kid anything that will work in a preprogrammed fashion to hush him and bring about peace, and give the parent what he/she wants. Suckers. Toys. You nake it. All the kid has to do is squawk, and something of interest comes flying at him within seconds. What happened to teaching them how to behave in public, have patience, and have respect? What happened to rewarding patience and good behavior, instead of reward tools being instant bribery fodder? What message does this give kids today?

Why are we always coddling bad behavior? WTH? I was reading one of my favorite blogs this morning and there was a story of taking a child to an event. The event was FOR the child. The child whined and cried and screeched on the way because he wanted to do something else instead. I think this is a mark of being terribly spoiled. But then, we go a step worse. The child enters the scene of the event, starts to wig out and scream, and he is coddled. Then, when he is distracted because he sees a treat appear that he decides he wants, he stays, is reinforced that it's all good, and gets to participate in the whole event. Parent appears happy with this. I'd be halfway home telling the kid that if he can't hold his shit together, he gets no events. Period. End of story. And I'd mean it. This kid, and many others every day, get benefits and rewards for being horrible. When this generation grows up, I don't want to hear the parents complaining about what these kids become. Rather, I hope they take a bow and own their work. "Yes, we created a bunch of undisciplined, narcisstic, selfish, pigs who won't respect anyone, demand anything they feel compelled to have, have high expectations of everyone else but never themselves, and can't seem to be part of any healthy interpersonal relationships."

If my child whined about going to a birthday party, for example, then upon arrival began to scream, he'd be heading straignt home with a punishment awaiting him. And if he saw cupcakes before we could make it back out the door, and decided to stay, now only would we leave as scheduled, but he wouldn't have a cupcake in his hand for weeks. Good behavior is rewarded. Bad behavior is dealt with appropriately.

Second, why aren't parents being parents? I am totally sick of going to a 10 pm movie, and dealing with whiny, crying kids who are tired and don't want to be there, just because the parent(s) want(s) to be there, and either had no other options or no better options than to tote the kid(s) along. If you have children, and they are small, stay home, or get a sitter. Yes, it's a sacrifice. It's a sacrifice people have been doing for eons. Deal. Or, shame on you for having children in the first place.

Third, why do others need to parent children that do not belong to them? And, why do people make their children other people's problem? I recently read a blog that scoffed and giggled about the fact that a three year old was brought to a wedding celebration that said three year old and all other non-wedding-party children were NOT invited to. People, your children are not other people's problem. Please don't force them upon people. I don't care if this three year old was the best behaved kid in all of wedding history. It's unbelievably selfish and disrespectful. When you get married, it's YOUR wedding, and YOU get to decide who comes and who doesn't. When it's NOT your wedding, your choices are to show up and be polite, childless if that's how the invitation indicated, or to stay home, miss out, and send your regards to the new couple. The third option of doing whatever you want and taking your kid somewhere he's not invited is not really an option. If you can't get a sitter, it's YOUR problem.

Same for other social events. I'm often at gatherings where someone will show up with two or three children in tow, and proceed to leave others to tend to at least one while she/he busies with one or two. Yes, I get it, this person is out of arms, and three children in diapers is a big job. If the spouse/friend/parent wasn't available or willing to come along with you and give you a hand - STAY HOME.

It's not that I'm not kid-friendly. I love children more than I can express in written word. I think they are gifts. And I don't mind lending a hand if someone is struggling with a couple little ones and needs a favor. But everyone takes it too far. If someone is threatening a two year old to stay put while an infant's diaper is changed, I'll be the first one to wander over, kneel down to the child's level, and attempt to strike up a conversation and busy him constructively until his momma is finished with her task. Not a problem. I'll enjoy every minute of it. But, here's the deal. In times past, I think the mother would finish the diaper change, express her thanks, and take control of the 2 year old again now that she's not got both hands extremely full. But that doesn't happen anymore. No sir. What happens now, is momma smiles and says, "Oh look! Why don't you show your new friend the train set over there?" The 2 year old's eye's will light up, and he will grab at my hand tugging toward his train, and I will get sucked into his little world for a good twenty minutes while his momma bounces around, hungry for social interaction, and willing to pawn off her responsibilities to get it. I don't show up at parties to sit babysitting with an empty champagne glass. Nor would I ever show up anyplace with my children expecting others to mind them while I ignore them.

I don't believe in accidents. You have to purposefully create a child, and then you have to purposefully avoid options such as adoption. If a human has children, it was by choice, and in that choice came the responsibility to be a parent.


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