I was not able to have children. Therefore, I never comment directly on how other people raise their brats, er, kids. The obvious come-back is, of course, "What do you know? You never had a child." That's legitimate, so I keep my mouth shut unless what I have to say is a compliment.
But over the years, I have watched a multitude of parents with their children. I went to my nephews' ballgames and my niece's dances, when I could. I am not a hermit, and so I see children in public places. It is not as if I have never seen a child in the last 30 years.
Also, I like children. But I do not like all children. And more and more, I don't like your child, whoever you are, because your kid is foul-mouthed, rude, crude, whiny, or ignorant, and you don't even know it. Or if you do, you don't care. Or worse, you think that's normal and okay.
Personally, I do not think most people raise children anymore. I think adults befriend their little angel and they kowtow to them, and they allow the children to run the family. I think some adults forget that the marriage comes first, and the children second. I also think we have turned young adults into children, keeping them young for far too long. Maybe 18 is a little young to send them packing, but they should be away from mom and day by the time they're 25 or so.
Older generations knew this. Yes, they made mistakes with their children. Some were too hard on their kids. Some didn't raise their kids at all. But middle-class kids today? I have started staying as far from them as I can, unless they're a relative. So here are some of the things I've seen and wondered about.
1. Parents on their cell phones completely ignoring the child. That little box in your hand is not more important than the human being tugging on your leg. Please look up from your Candy Crush game and give the child another sip of Coke or take her to the bathroom or whatever it is that needs doing.
2. Allowing children to wander. This happens in restaurants more than it should. Parents bring in their kids, and the kids, apparently already wired, start racing around tables, jumping from chair to chair, and generally being pains in the ass to nearby patrons, who deserve better. And the parents? They carry on a conversation with their friends (or with their cellphone), totally clueless as to the havoc being wrecked by their young ones.
3. Allowing kids to yell. And yell. And yell. If you can't calm your child down within two minutes, then take the kid out to the car. Do you really think the people at the next table, or on the next blanket at the beach, or in the next aisle at the supermarket, or wherever you are, want to hear your little darling screaming constantly at the top of his lungs for 20 minutes? Guess what. We don't.
4. Not letting the child take the punishment. Sometimes kids deserve the F they received on the paper, and having mom or dad rush in and bitch at the teacher until she caves and makes it a C- does no one any favors. Sometimes they need to hear the neighbor next door yell at them because they stomped on her flowers. She's right, you know. They misbehaved. You should make them apologize, not yell at the neighbor.
5. Overprotecting a kid. Kids grow tough by falling on their bottoms and getting back up, whether that's a literal fall for a toddler or a metaphorical fall for the 8th grader who is having friend troubles. If you step in and solve every little thing, how is the child going to learn to be brave, to stand back up, to continue to work at an issue? You're just teaching them to run to momma or daddy. They have two feet. Let them stand on them.
6. Thinking the kid is perfect. Your child is not perfect. No one is. I'm sorry you don't want me to tell you that having your child stick his tongue out at me (or giving me the finger) is not fine, but it isn't. That is not perfect behavior. That is boorish and rude behavior. And that drawing looks nothing like a dinosaur, so no, he's not the next Michelangelo.
7. Not teaching manners. I seldom hear children say the magic words of please, thank you, yes sir, and yes ma'am anymore. Actually, I don't hear that from many people at all, and those words need to make a come back. How hard is it to say "Pass me the salt, please" and "Thank you" when the deed is done?
8. Parents who live through their children. Didn't get to be on the football team in high school? Let's see if we can't make little Johnny a quarterback (even though he'd rather play chess) and turn him into a bruiser. Didn't get to learn French? Let's make Susie take it even though she'd rather learn Latin. Don't do that. They need guidance, not a dragging through the mud to make them do something just because you want to pretend it's really you out there. And for heaven's sake, don't have the wedding of your dreams when your daughter gets married. Let her have the wedding of her dreams. If they don't match yours, suck it up.
9. Not joining together as a team when couples parent. It makes me crazy to hear a dad say, "don't do that" to a misbehaving child only to hear the mom pipe up, "oh Bill, he's just being a boy, he's not bothering anybody." Yes he is, lady. He's bothering me. And you and your husband should spend some time discussing what you want in child rearing, and come to a compromise on it, and support one another.
10. Not giving children chores. I think children should have chores, and no, they shouldn't be paid for them. Some things should be done just because they are part of the household. When they're old enough, they should be able to strip their own bed, take out the trash, put their clothes in the hamper, wash dishes, or whatever. "Old enough" doesn't mean when they are 18, either. It means they receive certain jobs as they age. A two year old can pick up her own toys. Make her do it. (As an aside, I have been horrified to see some young parents on FB talking about when to potty train - and they think three or four is too young. I think that's too old.)
11. Not enjoying their children. This kind of goes back to #1. Your kids are not going to be little for very long. You are missing out on many things because you're so self-involved or whatever it is. You have to find that fine line between over-parenting and proper parenting. It's like the line between correction and abuse. I promise you, those lines are there somewhere.
12. Raising your kid to be what you want and not paying attention to who they are. Maybe you have a sensitive artistic genius on your hands, and you want him to play baseball. You are going to make the kid miserable, because he is going to try to please you and will fail. Maybe you want her to be a secretary in your business when you should be putting her through school so she can come back and be head of the marketing department, because she likes to write. Learn who your child is as a person, not as an extension of yourself.
13. Forgetting that your actions speak louder than your words. If you are a male who denigrates women, your son will grow up to do the same thing. If you are a woman who cowers from an abusive husband, your daughter will likely end up the same way. If you curse, don't expect those words not to spew from your child's mouth. If you yell, your kid will yell. If you demand, your kid will demand. If you want to raise a nice person, be a nice person.
And if you can't be a nice person, maybe you should not have had kids.
Check out John Rosamond's "Bill of Rights" for kids for some quick advice on child rearing.
Thirteen is played by lots of people; there is a list
you want to read other Thursday Thirteens and/or play along. I've been playing
for a while and this is my 451st time
to do a list of 13 on a Thursday.