Saturday, November 26, 2011

Things You Shouldn't Tell Young Parents

Parenting magazine has an article 9 Things You Shouldn't Say To Your Child, by Paula Spencer. It should be kept in parenting books as a bad example. The odd thing is, I discover upon research that Spencer is something of the anti-paranoid in most of her parenting writing. Where this piece came from - an irritated afternoon, perhaps - I don't know.
Still, nothing can excuse my behavior that afternoon. I erupted like Mount Momsuvius: "Enough! Get out! Stop bothering me!" The look on my daughters' faces said it all. The 2-year-old's eyes widened. The 4-year-old furrowed her brow and jabbed her thumb between her lips.
Yes, the look on her daughters' faces said it all, eh? Because once the children are upset, what else needs to be said? Also forbidden are Leave me alone, you know better than that, and "labeling" your child, such as she's my shy one. Horrors. If Ms. Spencer has heard actual parents doing such things, it is a wonder she has not reported it to Protective Services. Six of the nine, in fact demonstrate how you can replace irritated, poorly-thought-out statements with controlled, chilly, yuppie ones which let the child know that their feelings are the pivot point of the household. To be fair, her offered replacements are generally better than the ones she criticises. Yet they are not much better - they focus on inessentials of parenting. Children are not that fragile. A large percentage of the people I work with experienced serious abuse as children, yet many retain remarkable humanity, self-confidence, a perspective. Young parents already have a tendency to paranoia and guilt about their interactions with their children. I don't see much need to increase that.


karrde said...


Of all the things my parents said or did that may have harmed me, the phrase He's Shy isn't there.

My mother said it. I can remember.

It's anecdata, not data. So it is meaningless.

Someday, the child will be an adult looking at his own budget, and he might realize the amount of money his parents spent on feeding and clothing him between birth and age 18.

Or he may have a child of his own, and hear himself say similar things.

Or maybe, a 16-year-old will realize that while the parents are loving, they are not perfect.

Anonymous said...

I'm an old foogy, 4 kids, 8 g-kids. The worse thing you can do to your be "their friend".
Shoot, my friends and I sit around and grill burgers, drink beer and complain about our I want to do that with my kids?
Nope, I am a parent with my children. I have to teach them the rules of life. I have to be the "adult" in the room. When the kids get to be old enough, and they want to hang around with me and my friends....then I'll be friends with them.


Anonymous said...

#1: Leave me alone...
Teaches kids to prioritize their interactions. Nothing wrong with that. Their disassociative mind ramblings do not take precedence in society. Valuable lesson.

#2: Don't label.....
Somehow all the times my mother said "You're such a klutz" made me a klutz. Usually she said it with a smile, followed by "You come by it honest". Not all labels are bad. Sometimes it's just the truth.

And on and on. Good grief.

PacRim Jim said...

Please don't refer me to another top 10 list with only 1 item per page. It's just a car wash of advertising.

The Mad Soprano said...

She says spanking is ineffective? I was spanked as a small child, and I can say for certain it was a very effective means of discipline. Of course I was only spanked if I had been especially naughty or had blown a countdown. But as I got older I was spanked less and less, and it stopped completely when I became a teenager.