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November 15, 2004 - 12:49 pm

KIDS TODAY…

…and their bratty children too.

If you haven’t guessed by now I am of the notion that, if done properly, child rearing (unlike government) is a state of benevolent dictatorship and not one of democracy. My children do not help set policy at our house, and, in fact, the only decisions they are allowed to make are kid-sized ones such as “ketchup or mustard?” and “shorts or jeans?” So, if you are easily offended by a know-it-all who is unapologetically the boss of her children, do not press on, delicate reader.

Here goes.

Why do parents treat their kids like they’re the most important people in the world? They’re NOT, and the sooner everyone (especially your child) realizes this, the happier everyone (especially your child) will be.

I went clothes shopping for my kids at Target recently (notice I did not say Saks), and I saw some little girls’ t-shirts with slogans like this on them: ‘Spoiled Rotten,’ ‘Ask me if I care,’ ‘Diva,’ and ‘I didn’t ask to be a Princess, I just am.’ There were more, but I blocked them out of my mind. Whose brilliant idea was this? More importantly, who is buying these shirts for their self-aware five- to ten-year-olds? And have you seen these urban Barbie-type dolls called ‘Bratz’ that look like little girls with slutty makeup on, all dressed up to go soliciting around the streets of South Beach at night with their pimp boyfriends? It’s disgusting. Parents complain about their children having low self-esteem and wonder why they’re having sex when they’re eleven, but look at the message they send their kids and how they dress them. This is true for the girls particularly; but by setting these whorish ideas of ‘normal’ for our little girls, we are also setting up expectations for our boys who have no respect for their mothers to start with and consequently never learn respect for girls their own age. This, of course, is not to say that once a girl reaches adulthood – and moves out of her parents’ home – she can’t make her face up like a harlot and clothe her body like a stripper with the makeup and clothes she buys with her own blow-job money. But I’m talking about little kids here, not ill-bred, consenting adults whose life choices are none of my business.

I see parents (mothers more than fathers, but the fathers are catching up fast) who have earned doctoral degrees, achieved power and status at work, and are respected members of their communities and places of worship, yet are afraid to discipline (notice I did not go straight to the ‘spank’ option) their three-year-old who is demanding an unreasonable amount of attention in the check-out line at the grocery store. What is up with these people?! I’ll tell you: They think their kids are the most important people in the world and they don’t want to “damage their self-esteem.”

Newsflash! Self-esteem comes from setting realistic but challenging goals, working hard, and achieving those goals with love and encouragement from the adults in their life. It does not come from teachers and parents blowing smoke up their kids’ asses and caving to their every whim. You will never see a “My Child Made the Honor Roll at Bratty Academy!” bumper sticker on my car, although it’s likely my kids will be at the top of that honor roll when they start getting grades. If that happens, we will be proud of them, and they will know it’s because they worked hard and did their best, not because they are at the top of anybody’s list, and they’d better not get a big head about it either. Instilling a little humility and gratitude in your kids will go a long way toward checking the self-importance I see rampant in too many otherwise fine adults.

Many people believe the big problem with discipline in our schools these days is due to a lot of social, economic, and political crap, but mostly I think it’s because of what I call the Not My Child Syndrome. When a teacher calls a conference with a parent because of a child’s bad behavior, the overwhelming response out of today’s parent will be, “You’re not talking about my child!” and they file a complaint with the school board about the teacher. Could you imagine OUR parents taking our punk-ass side of an argument over the teacher’s when we were kids? I can’t. But many parents today refuse to believe their little angels could do anything wrong because that would mean they were bad parents. The fact is kids screw up no matter how great we are as parents. It’s their job as kids to screw up and it’s our job as parents to hold them accountable. That’s how they grow into adults who don’t shirk responsibility.

Obviously, there are all kinds of ways to pay attention to your kids. You can buy them stuff they don’t need and let them stay up late and eat junk food in front of the T.V. whenever they want. Or you can grow up and discipline them, which means being okay with being ‘the bad guy’ sometimes and being consistent with rules and expectations. Yes, it is tiring and boring and not always fun for us, but if you keep your head and your sense of humor, soon enough, your kids will know the rules and will be free to be kids without having to fight you for everything. They will respect you and they will be happy.

But just in case I’m completely wrong, I’m starting a psychological therapy/criminal defense fund for my two little angels.

Care to contribute?

~Samantha

recommended:
reading -"Her Door" by Mary Leader
viewing - Mildred Pierce
listening -"I Wish" by Stevie Wonder

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