Foolish Things We Tell Our Kids: Part III

“Do as I say, not as I do.”

I am amazed at how much my kids pick up.  My four year old has a savant-like memory.  He can grasp concepts that are tough for me to wrap my mind around.  Yes, like every mother out there, I have a little genius.  Okay, I said it.  Even at that level of super power genius, I don’t think he would appreciate a DAISNAID approach to parenting.

Why do we tell our kids this?  I don’t believe that it comes from a place of malice.  I think it comes from a place of broken-ness.  We are human, we hurt ourselves, we act out, but we want to somehow contain that hurt.  We don’ t really WANT to pass it on to our children.  In a misguided effort we beg them to take heed to our advice and not fall into our destructive patterns.  As I have said before; that’s not how it works.  Kids will file those expectations into the I’m Required To Be Super Awesome cabinet.  It sends a message that the grown ups in their life don’t have to control themselves, but kids do.  When they can’t measure up?  Oh, oh! They get punished AND feel like a failure.

I hate to keep beating the same drum, but it goes back to modeling the behaviors we want from our children.  Little Johnny may not let the curse words fly when he stubs a toe, but he will probably react in furious anger if that is what he has seen.  Don’t tell little Susie she should not smoke while you have a cigarette dangling out of your mouth.  Don’t tell teenage Tommy that he shouldn’t drink and drive, as you and hubby drive home after a few drinks with dinner.  Don’t tell your teenage drivers that they better-the-heck-not get a speeding ticket when you drive like a road demon.  Just remember, our children are watching and listening.  Always.  The small things we do are the big lessons for them.

Taking the time to think about what we say and what we do will shape future generations.  I  want strong, compassionate children.  I am so tired of reading the headlines and seeing stories of kids completely devoid of empathy.   Stories like that make me sad because they stink of bad or absentee parenting.  By the time a kid throws a shopping cart on someone’s head, the damage is done.  I don’t believe the future is hopeless.  I believe we can turn the Titanic around.  But does everyone want to do the work?  Sorry to say, no.  Too many parents are hung up on themselves  to focus on their kids.   I have heard so many moms (WHERE ARE THE DADS???????) say they would die for their kids.  Yet, they don’t know who their kids are with, what their kids are learning in school, what their kids are watching, what their kids are listening to, or what their kids are eating.

Yeah, you would die for your kids but maybe you should spend some of your LIFE investing in them.




Foolish Things We Tell Our Kids: Part I

“You can be whatever you want in life!!!!!”  Yay!  Go you!  Wait…not really.  In fact, no, no, no.  You can’t.

Thanks to ALLLLLL the well meaning grown ups in my life who spoon fed me this garbage.  I so appreciated being set up for failure early on.  “You can be anything you want to be, deary.”  Well, I stank at math, so there went my dreams of being an astronaut.  I was the most uncoordinated child on the planet.  Flush wanting to be a cowgirl or any other dream career involving arms and legs.  I was a little girl who knew something was wrong with her.  I mean, how great could I be, if I couldn’t even grow up to be WHATEVER I wanted to?  Of course this led to a downward spiral that caused me to drug and drink my way through high school.  I kid.  Well, sorta.

Why do we tell our precious children these damaging cliches?  Why not tell them they actually have super powers and can fly?  That’s about how ridiculous and cruel it is to tell them they can do anything.  The resources are there for any career choice, yes.  But what if the drive of achievement  is cut off at the intersection of natural ability?  In that moment a sparkle in the child’s eyes goes dark.  Sparkle death should never happen.  Ever.

A better approach would be to observe a child in play.  Good old natural, organic play.  Delight with them in the building of a Lego Death Star.  Remark on the excellent use of green and yellow in a fingerpainted “Starry Night”.   Let a child blossom into what they NEED to be.  Encourage them in areas where they clearly excel.  I’m not talking about being some kind of math crazed stage mom either.  If little Susie is on FIRE for math, don’t have printouts of the currents trends of  careers rooted in mathematics.  And for crying out loud don’t roll your eyes in disappointment if Susie chooses to use her math fire to be a carpenter, not a civil engineer.

What’s with this super cerebral career path competition we set ourselves on??  Please, don’t pass that nonsense onto your kids.  We have an entire generation of 20 and 30 somethings who have spun their wheels trying to figure out why they aren’t Steve Jobs.  Don’t believe me?  Turn on the television.  You’ll see them in any Occupy venue across the nation.