Sturm und Mom

The Storm & Stress (& Joy) of Motherhood

You called your kid what?!?

I’ve noticed something disturbing lately in the way some parents speak about their kids. Sometime in the last 10 years, it’s become okay to call your kid a — well — it rhymes with “glass knoll.”  Not under your breath at 3 o’clock during a sleepless morning, but in the same way that you would say “My girl’s a tomboy” or “He’s such a troublemaker.”  A descriptor to use when chatting with friends.

Yes, I realize that this is a very common word for friendly adults to use in a joking way.  Heck, I’ve even done it myself.  However, doesn’t it seem strange that parents, who would never call their children “stupid” or “lazy” for fear of hurting their self-esteem, wouldn’t have a problem with this word?  Some people do have a more blunt sense of humour than I do.  But it mostly, I’ve heard it used as an explanation for some type of childish behaviour.

When I was a kid, the philosophy was “kids will be kids.”  When my first child was born, it was “kids will be parented into being great.”  Now, things are seem to swinging toward “kids will be avoided because they are impossible to live with.”  Once parents were encouraged to “train a child in the way he should go.”  Today, increasingly I see people just trying to white-knuckle it through their childrens’ incorrigible behaviour.  They shout, they taunt, they disobey, they ignore, and are generally unpleasant to the adults in their lives.  And the adults sigh and roll their eyes, and just look like they can wait to get away.

Which, I can’t imagine could be very good for building a relationship.  I remember my Grandmother always used to say “Children — they’re little people.”  Or as my daughter once put it: “junior adults.”  (Why yes, she was using it as an justification to boss around her younger sisters.)  I can’t imagine, though, that when these kids grow up, they will look back with high esteem at their younger selves.  Not when their own parents thought so little of their abilities, they didn’t even expect the lowest standard of good behaviour.  Not when they non-chanlantly described them to other adults as an “a—–e.”

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