Tuesday, July 16, 2013
The Brat Pack: Raising a Selfless Child in an Over Indulgent Society
Hello my friends. What a week it has been. There is so much going on in our lives, in our country and in the world. But I challenge you all, take time to be still. Be silence in a world that is constantly moving. I guarantee you, the treasures that will reveal themselves to you will be worth it. But enough of my spiritual talk, lets get into this topic.
I'm a BIG Sex & the City fan. I love the writing, the characters, the fashion. But mostly, I loved the stories it told, the lessons, the subliminal advice. On a particular episode, one of the main characters and her husband were considering having a child and invited a couple, who had three, over for dinner. Needless to say, the dinner turned into disaster and the two begin to reconsider the decision to become parents. But after a sweet heart to heart moment, the husband turns to his wife and says "Our kids will be different", while the narrator comments that this is what all couple say to each other to procreate. And I thought about this concept. How many of us can say that our child is "different"? We've all been there and seen the bratty little troll in the grocery store, embarrassing the hell out of his mother as you walk by, shaking your head in disgust. But what if the little demon is yours and how did he get that way?
When my son was born I had 3 main goals for his childhood already planned out. He would be polite, oh so manner able. Basically a gentleman in the making, which is already a lost art form if you ask me, but that's another entry all together. He would be friendly. I swore up and down that he would not be one of those kids that if you as so much look in their direction, all hell will break loose. Those kinds of kids drive me crazy. Now, I understand that we are all different and have unique characters and personalities, but Lord help me when I encounter these children. I think that's the main reason I stopped teaching. And lastly, my child would not be a brat...period. There was no room for discussion here. I knew he would be spoiled, that was a given. With me being an only child and my family not having access to a baby on a regular basis in 28 years and all. I knew that part of it just could not be helped. And I can confirm that my son is truly blessed and has not wanted for a thing. He has more then he needs and its not just the family who dotes on him, but friends, neighbors, hell, even the local pub owner down the street got him a birthday gift this year. However, I believe it has a lot to do with the fact that my child is not a brat. See, those first two components have so much to do with it. When I first started teaching, I was amazed at how many kids don't say "please" and "thank you". I mean, shocked. These are basic things that you learn in life, yet, I would never hear them. And then I began to encounter those who felt that they were entitled to EVERYTHING creating... la brat. It was like Varuca Salt from Willy Wonka had given birth to a generation. Whining, mean, nasty little brats, every age and all over the place. And I just blamed the parents, thinking that they had lost their damn minds because they weren't controlling the house, their kids were. But as a parent, I see that its not only what you learn from home, but also what is taught outside of the home. We live in an age that is so fast paced, so immediate, so gimme, that if the parents are standing at the microwave bitching about how its taking their 3 minute dinner to heat up, what is that sending to the child? And not just that, what about the working parent guilty that society pushes. "You should be at home with your children" but what if you cant afford to? What if the only way to keep them in private school and pay the mortgage is for both parents to work? And they try to make up for it by having weekly trips to Toy R Us (guilty and I can say it), staying up as late as they want or throwing lavish parties (don't get me started on the parties) trying to keep up with the Joneses. And then there are parents that just don't want to discipline or are afraid to discipline because someone is looking or the books said I have to use "positive reinforcement". Once again, we all have different characters and unique personalities and what works for one child, may not work for the next. You have to taylor things to the individual and having boundaries is a good thing. If giving your child everything out of guilty or pressure is you thing, then ask yourself, "What will my child have to look forward to in the future?" or rather "what will my child expect will come automatically in the future?".
My husband and I often discuss Masaya's future and we can whole heartily agree that its our job to make sure we don't raise a jerk. We are his first teachers, his first spiritual advisors, his first loves and first examples of how to be a decent human being. Because once he's an adult, our role is done. We transition into the mentor/men-tee stage and all we can do from then on is observe and hope that the lessons we taught stick. And so far they are.
Here's to bringing up a generation that loves & learns,