Monday, April 5, 2010

Parenting 101

Negative examples are an excellent way to parent. We see something awful or hear something that makes us cringe, and we are shamed into becoming a better parent.

This weekend we were at a birthday party, and one of the attendees was a shy little boy. He was so shy, that he was fighting back tears when his mom urged him to join the other children. After several attempts to nudge him over and across the room, she squatted next to him and in a terse voice began to chastise:

Do you see what you are doing? You are being different!

I blocked out the rest of her lecture because my brain completely stuttered on the world different. Of all the things she could have said to him, that was the word she chose? To make him feel badly for being different than the other kids? He's four years old for fucks sake! The damage this woman is wreaking on her son turns my stomach. He is either going to grow up to be the biggest sheep with no opinion of his own, or go so far off the path her head will spin around. Different? I'll show you different.

A little friendly reminder to be conscious of the things I say to my little ones. They are so vulnerable, and even when they act like little assholes they don't deserve to be belittled.


Anonymous said...

As usual, you said it perfectly.


Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Oh. My. God.

I want to smack her. I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum. I'm all about "Be as different as possible! PLEASE!"

Some people suck.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I've learned more from seeing bad parents and NOT doing what they do than from seeing good parents.

And frankly, I hope that kid grows up to be gay, just to show his mom. (But a well adjusted, confident gay man, living in a world where his mother is the only remaining person who's prejudiced against homosexuals.)

Patois said...

That poor little boy. Damn. As a painfully shy kid and the parent of a painfully shy boy (and two can-you-say-the-opposite-of-shy kids), I hurt at the thought of what she's doing.

A Free Man said...

They don't deserve to be belittled, but as the parent of a painfully shy boy my heart goes out to the lady. She's probably looking ahead to school and worrying about how her boy is going to integrate into the lord of the flies world of elementary school social interactions. I know this because I worry about the same thing. And, being different is not necessarily a good thing when you're in school. The kids that are different are the ones that get bullied, the ones that get teased mercilessly and the ones that come out of school with scars. I know, because I was one. I worry about my boy because I want him to have a better time of it than I did.

So, her means - maybe not great - but her hoped for ends - I'm with her. It's incredibly difficult to be a shy kid. No, you're not going to lecture him out of it, but how do you do it? She no doubt wants the best for her kid the same way that I want the best for mine and you want the best for yours.

suicide_blonnd said...

youre a bigger person than me..i would have had to leave... or swallow Valium with Vodka..

Not Afraid To Use It said...

@babymakesthree: Thanks!

@CMGD: I right there with you.

@Anon: Sometimes negative examples are the best.

@AFM: I hear what you're saying, but there is a different way to do it. Our kids are finally outgrowing some of their shyness. My daughter can't handle large crowds and noisy place so taking her to school for years involved us getting their earlier than anyone else so that the noise level would gradually increase and she would be comfortable. This woman may have been having a bad day (she had an infant with her, too) but several of us offered to help with the baby so that she could spend time helping her older son adjust. She refused and lectured and cajoled her son instead. It just seemed there were many other choices for her to have made that day.

@Suicide Blonnd: I did walk across the room. I couldn't take it anymore

Blues said...

Wow. That woman seriously sucks.

My favorite expression from my grandmother: "Dare to be different". She said it to me every time I had a talk with her. All of my cousins remember that from her too and it's our favorite thing about her.