While at Marshalls the other day, I overheard (well, the WHOLE STORE overheard) a little girl (maybe 4 years old) throw an epic tantrum about wanting this Hello Kitty purse. Apparently, the price was a bit too steep for the parents and they were trying to reason with the child. Of course, the little girl wanted this purse and she did NOT want to wait until they went to Wal-Mart to see if it was cheaper...etc.... etc... etc... The parents continued to promise this child the purse no matter what- and they were frantically searching on their smartphone to see if the "same exact purse" was available cheaper.
Now, I have had children throw fits in stores before; I have been blushing from my hairline to my toes as I sling a child over my shoulder and storm out of the store. But, I would never ever acquiesce to a demanding, selfish, and unreasonable kiddo in a store. Am I perfect about always disciplining? No- I will bribe a kid with chocolate bars to smile during a family reunion shot or continually let them eat lollipops at the doctor's office even when they are not behaving as expected.
|Note the freaking out James. Even candy-bribe didn't work|
So after my viewing of the tantrum, I witnessed another family: two teenage children at dinner with their parents. It was a family-style restaurant: casual dining, noisy kids, cheap food- my kind of place. The teens were glued to their phones the ENTIRE meal. At one point, the mom sheepishly asked them to put away their phones- not only did they NOT acquiesce they smirked at her. The father did nothing expect shrug. Respect has left that family....
What has happened with families that the parents have lost complete control over their children? I think it's a few things combined in our culture:
- Parents have been taught to "not trust" their instincts. Online you can find ten different ways to handle every situation: from bottle feeding to spanking- parents can feel guilty about anything. It used to be if your child acted up- you dealt with it. You didn't look online for "strategies" you just did it. Now, I am not saying that you shouldn't look for support or advice- however, make sure you aren't just looking online to find excuses. It's really easy to laugh when someone says, "Oh you let your kids watch 4 hours of TV a day? So do I! Then that's normal!!" Make sure you are challenging yourself to parent wiser not just look for people who support your not-so-great decisions.
You better read all these so you can raise your kids.
- The undermining of the family through "family" programming. When we watch Leave it to Beaver now, we scoff at the portrayal of the family life: perfect wife & mother with a hardworking, knowledgeable father and respectful children. Starting in the 1980s, the father became the buffoon. Even family-friendly shows like Home Improvement or Everybody Loves Raymond- the mother's became the sole source of knowledge and family-management. Once in awhile the father would have an insight, but usually the mother was the hero of the story.
This is hilarious though :)
- Children's books, shows, and movies. After all the wonderful picture books I have read my children, I looked forward to great "first" chapter books for Grace. Though we love the Magic Tree House Series and a few others,....so many of the books have snarky lead characters. I really don't like the Just Grace or Judy Moody series because the stars are rude, disrespectful, and flippant with their parents. These books are geared for 5-8 year olds-- we are teaching children to talk back, make snide comments, and not listen to us!! Have you tuned into the Disney Channel (not Disney Junior)? Parents are portrayed as idiots and the kids are constantly talking their way out trouble.
Good fun reads! Great as an audiobook too.
- Laziness. We have become the quick-fix society. I get impatient waiting for the microwave or my computer to load up. In our instantaneous society we expect our children to behave after 1-2 attempts at discipline. It takes THOUSANDS of reminders to have your child to remember to say "Please" or "Thank You"-- imagine how long it takes to build a child's character? Umm.... literally forever. My mom is still working on me :) I know that many times I don't feel like "dealing" with a kid, but I know that in the long-run, getting off the couch might save me tantrums later.
This happens to me too often....
- Culture of snippiness. Stemming back to the "family programming," I often hear husbands and wives sniping at each other in front of the children. It's fine to disagree in front of the kids- it's not o.k. to constantly disrespect your spouse in front of them. Teaching your children to resolve conflicts in a respectful way is a wonderful skill to give them. If you are constantly degrading each other, the children will learn that too. As the children get older, they will mimic that same lack of respect in their tone and obedience.
Especially true with parents.
And you know you may have over-used a parenting strategy when this conversation was overheard in the shower:
"Don't complain about the water!" Said Lissie
"Why?" Grace said.
"Mommy will come in here and tell us about the children in Africa who have to bathe in mud puddles!"
Easy Rule #45445- Let your kids tantrum in public. Most people will smile knowingly that you are willing to "stick to your guns." And who cares about the other people who are judging you.
Easy Rule #34234- No parents are perfect, but stay strong- every effort is worth it!
Here's a little Frozen bonus that Grace is INSISTING that I put on the blog... only for those of you who actually read the blog posts to the end shall enjoy....