Your Kid is Not That Special

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Little reminder, Just in time for Back to school:

I know, it is difficult to believe. Your kid just isn't that special. He isn't a genius because he can read some words early, or knows all the dinosaur names, and she isn't the next incarnation of Picasso because she likes to color, or walked early.

Here, sit down. Let me hold your hand. I say this to you as a Friend. I say this to you as a teacher who has seen hundreds, maybe thousands, of children. I say this to you as another Parent.

My kid isn't that special, either. Of course to ME, she is everything. She is the sole cumulation of all my effort, knowledge and genetic contribution to the species. She is exquisitely funny and delightful.

However, in the scheme of things, she is just another Kid. Your kid too - just another kid with quirks and some talents...but really just an ordinary kid.

Why is it important that you accept this fact?

You, Parents of the World, You are trying too hard. You are moving beyond "supportive" to "Blind indulgence and Irate Body Guard" and it is not helpful. Not to your kids, and certainly not to the adults who are working with them.

I mean, we all want our children to feel loved. Supported. Encouraged.  But this continual "Rah-Rah-Rah, My kid is AWESOME" stuff? This is encouraging entitlement. Rudeness. Selfishness. Bullying.

As a teacher, I have been required to say some unpleasant truths to parents. Their child can be poorly behaved. Mean. Conniving. Deceitful.

When I say this to parents who believe that they have a normal, un-special child? I get listened to, and the parents and I can work as a team to correct the behavior. That's what discipline is, after all. To Teach. To Guide. We do this best when teams of adults can consult and listen to each other and then work together in the best interests of the child and family.

The parents who believe that they may have given birth to the Second Coming?  Fight. Denial. Their child would NEVER do this. Their child is SPECIAL and therefore should be given different or more consideration. Their child isn't a bully. Their child would NEVER urinate all over the bathroom wall because he thought it would be "funny".

Have you seen these parents? They will park in the middle of a one way street in front of the school and block all the other traffic so they can walk their child into school. They will show up in professor's offices to plead why their child doesn't deserve that failing grade...even though the child didn't show up for class all term. If the parent doesn't get their way with the professor, they will go to the dean. There is always an excuse. Always an exception.

We are not giving our children good "self esteem", we are setting them on the path of self destruction. Mini Lindsay Lohan's with no boundaries and no expectations beyond  outward markers of success that we - their parents - are willing to fight to the death to protect.

I love my Kid, but she is a normal kid and she screws up. As much as it kills me to see her suffer the consequences of bad decisions like deciding to put off her homework until the last minute, or lying to me about making her bed...I would much rather her suffer those consequences now, than for her to live in a world in which she believes that she has some kind of divine right.

Those screwups are not a reflection of bad parenting, but rather the necessary stumbles on the path to being a conscientious adult. As such, I can handle other adults disciplining her. Not beating her. Not berating her. Simply Disciplining Her as I do their children, if needed.

Parents need to remember that WE are not our Children.

 We are simply the vessels through which they arrived.

1 Baleful Regards:

Average Jane said...

Here's the problem with raising your kids to think they're SO special (and I say this as someone who lived it): reality sneaks in sooner or later. It's not pleasant when the kid grows up, gets out on her own and realizes, "Hey, I'm actually pretty average."

If she's lucky, it's just a passing realization that leads to working a little harder. If that realization never quite sinks in, you have a recipe for disaster.

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