Friday, April 3, 2015

What Not To Say

I just finished reading an article, “10 Things You Should Never Say to Your Child.”

Before I started reading, I knew I’d be good to go; I don’t tell my child they’re awful, I don’t inform them they’re a bad child, nor do I mention to them their breath stinks in front of their friends.  But after reading just the first two on the list of 10, I sank deep down into my seat with guilt, shame, and regret. 

Come to find out, we’re not supposed to tell our children,"Great job!"  No, that’s rather too vague for a child to hear.  We as their parent are directed ever so nicely in this article to be more specific: "Super soccer game, Johnny!"  or "Nice throw to your teammate Sarah; you really have a way with that ball!"

And never tell them "Practice makes perfect.Because then the children will work too hard and put too much pressure on themselves.  Instead, we are to encourage them to work hard and they’ll naturally progress on their own minus the tension and stress.

Or number 3: never utter, "You’re OK" to your child.  In doing so, you’re telling your child they’re indeed not OK and you’re not validating their feelings.

Oh…and number 9: "No dessert unless you finish your dinner.Apparently, the child perceives to value of the treat and diminishes the enjoyment of the meal itself.  (What child on this planet enjoys Mom’s meatloaf? All they are looking forward to is the sweet something in the end; that is if they can make it through the loaf.)

Call me old-fashioned, too stern of a mother, or even archaic when it comes to parenting, but it took all the strength in me to finish this article. 
I understand as parents, we are to build our children up, allow their self-esteem to soar, but really?    
First off, I have too many kids to remember what I said, when I said it, or even to whom I said it to, to be able to keep track of this list.  And secondly, are we in a society today where we’re over micro-managing our parents?

Let’s take our parents for example (maybe a bad example for some, but stick with me here).  My parents did the best they could; I’m assuming at least.  My dad worked outside of the home so Mom could have the opportunity to stay at home and raise my brother and me.  They clothed us, fed us, and occasionally loved on us.  They taught my brother and me values in life (I think my brother was absent during these lessons), taught us respect and responsibility, how to love Jesus, and also how to love and respect one another as ourselves.  Other than the spankings (I grew up in the 1980’s…we all got spanked more often than not), I feel as though my parents never had to “watch” or “correct” the words that came out of their mouths. But today, with articles such as what I read, I feel as if we are a unit of parents who have to walk on eggshells in protection of our children’s self esteem and future of who they are within themselves.  Yes, I get it; don’t tell your child they’re stupid or dumb because they can’t get an A on a test, although they’ve re-taken it 18 times; value, love, and
teach them to rival that test…on the 19th try instead.  Don’t even utter the word loser after they lost their soccer game, even if that’s the fourth game in a row; value, love, and show them how to kick a goal that gets talked about around the kitchen table for years to come. And God forbid we as their guardian flat out call them names such as slob, pig, or ragamuffin because they don’t have the ability to wipe their face clean while eating spaghetti, even though your child is 14; value, love, and hand them a napkin with a smile.

All joking aside, this article left me feeling really deflated and punctured.  Aren’t we supposed to read parenting articles to make us feel rejuvenated and shouting statements such as: "Oh, you want to hit me with your attitude you little pre-teen?  Bring it!  I just read, “10 Things on How to Adjust Your Child’s Attitude and Still Have Them Love You,” I’ve got this!"

Yes, I think that’s the empowered feelings we’re supposed to be left with.  Or maybe rather, we’re left with feelings of, "How can I be a better parent to this child/children of mine?"

As ridiculous as I feel the article was, leaving me left to pout, I decided to turn that frown upside down.  I changed my attitude towards this world and author alike.  Instead of knit-pick how sensitive this world is becoming towards the “correct words” to use with our kids, I’m going to choose to raise my children in the old fashioned values I was raised with.  Along with respect and responsibility, the most important value being "love your neighbor as yourself."
 If I can raise children to conquer things with the golden rule, it won’t matter if they lost their fourth straight soccer game in a row or realize Math isn’t their strong point but English is.  If my offspring can come to the table of life with confidence in knowing who they are matters, telling them practice makes perfect won’t stress them out or cause them anxiety.  Rather, they’ll know that in order to succeed the way they have intentions of doing so, will require practice, and lots of it to become their vision of perfect, not your vision or even mine.  And I know that by rearing up my children with the notion that hard work eventually does pays off, they will realize the faster they get those peas and carrots to disappear from their dinner plate, the faster they’ll taste the sweet victory of Mom’s chocolate pudding.  

*Article first appeared in Idaho Family Magazine*

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