Friday, October 23, 2015

Dear Children: Life is Real...Get Used To It!

Hi Everyone!

Before we get started with today's post, if you read yesterday's post, you know I've been struggling with whether or not I wanted to continue with the website and blogging. For now, I'm just going to keep plugging away at it as long as I feel I have things to say and share. So for the 10 of you that may actually show up and read this post...THANK YOU!!

I try hard with my parenting posts to promote good parenting,and to encourage those of you who may be experiencing challenges with your little ones. Really, I have no authority or expertise other than I'm a mom...just like many of you. I have wondered, lately if we as parents and a society are not doing our children a great disservice by not allowing them to experience failure and disappointment. This has been a hot button topic in the parenting blogging and "expert" world for a while now. I think there are many valid arguments for why we are standing in the way of our children's successes as future adults and contributing members of society. We are focusing so much on our children's emotional well being and saving their feelings that we are failing them as parents.

Why is that exactly?

1. Birthday Parties: This is my number one pet peeve about parenting in this age of  "don't hurt anyone's feelings" My youngest son has a birthday the day before Halloween. I would LOVE to throw him a nice costume Halloween related party; but the only way I can do it is to invite everyone in his class. This is a problem for me for a couple of reasons: First, guess what? He's human...he DOESN'T LIKE EVERYONE IN HIS CLASS!! Why should he be forced to invite someone he doesn't care to spend time with? Second, it's expensive! Hello?!!? Which would you rather pay for as a parent? A birthday party in which you have 8-10 kids coming or one in which you have to PLAN for 20 kids even though may 12 will come. And let's NOT talk about the fact that NO ONE ever RSVP's for their kid anymore either! It is not up to me to prepare someone else's child for disappointment in life. If the situation were to arise in which my own child wasn't invited, I would use it as a teachable moment in parenting. Yes, I would be upset that he's upset...I'm not unfeeling or unsympathetic! But I'm also a realist and I"m trying to raise a logical, well adjusted and capable child as well. I would NEVER allow any of my children to be mean about not inviting someone to a party, either though. There is a way to be tactful about it. Perhaps sending in cupcakes to be shared with the class in celebration or sharing goody bags with everyone.

2. Disappointment is not a gateway to violence: School shootings have been a horrible, unimaginable and all too prevalent reality in the last decade. I would lose my mind if my children fell victim to something so horrendous. That being said, I believe we are using the fear of "what might happen" to allow our children to never experience disappointment or rejection. No parent, myself included, wants to be the parent of the kid with the gun or the kid that bullies someone to the point they commit suicide. We see the reports and the news and the "research by the experts" and we all cringe a little inside and hope we don't screw up our parenting skills badly enough for our child to that kid.
It is wrong, however, to assume that disappointment or rejection will lead to a life of violence or even an act of violence. Children need to experience disappointment so that they can learn other important life skills such as determination, perseverance, and discipline. My daughter experiences severe test anxiety and often doesn't do well on tests in school and most of the time is very disappointed in her scores. Guess what though? We keep plugging away at it, we keep trying new tactics and new ideas to help her. I know she probably isn't seeing it right now; but I know she's learning other important lessons through these challenges.

3. A Child's Failure is NOT your Failure as a Parent: When my daughter or her brothers do poorly in school or my son strikes out at a baseball game, or doesn't get a part in the school play or whatever...I don't curl up a corner lamenting to the heavens: "It's all my fault! I'm a horrible mother!" Many parents want the credit and the glory when their children achieve greatness and milestones; (and that's not right either, by the way...) However, just as equally bad, are parents who shift the focus from the child and the lessons that failure can teach to themselves and their "lack of parenting" skills. That's just wrong! Guess what?! IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU! Children need to learn to stand inside their own failures and deal with them. Failing is a quintessential part of life. Without it, you never learn to rise to a challenge or overcome an obstacle. You never appreciate the concept of really hard work. Most importantly, if we take the pain of failure away from our children, we essentially take away the sweetness of victory when it comes as well.

4. A Spoiled Child is a Selfish Child: If we give our children everything they want in life; and never say no, then can we really be shocked when we realize we've become the parents of the kid that always screams at the top of his lungs because he didn't get candy from the check out lane or the little girl who made another little girl cry because she took something away from her?! Can we really be shocked when we spend 16 years giving a child everything they want only to have that same child become raging mad when there isn't a shiny new car with a big red bow on it in the driveway on their birthday?
Children who are never told "no" or "not this time" or even a more truthful and honest "I can't afford to buy that for you" are really only be taught one thing: Selfishness. They're also not learning how to work for something themselves. They're not learning how to wait or maybe contribute to buying something themselves by earning money for it. They're not learning that life does NOT always revolve around them.

Photo source "Poppy's New Adventure"

As I said in the beginning of this post, I am by no means an expert in anything related to parenting. I have been one for a little while now; and over the years, this is just what I have learned, valued and tried to remember to help me along this journey. I hope it provides you with some tips and help as well.
Have a great day and I will be back again soon!

1 comment:

kristijamesphotography said...

This was an excellent post!!!! All of it, 100% true and I wish more parents saw it like you do. I'm not perfect but gosh darnit I try to let my kids experience these things.