I saw something today that completely pushed me over the edge. I have officially, completely reached my capacity for patience when it comes to observing the way some people out there talk (and I'm using the term 'talk' loosely here) to their children. If you are one of the people I have seen out and about screaming at, demeaning, cursing out, belittling, or otherwise abusing your children publicly (I shudder to think what you do in private) then this is for you...
There is absolutely NO excuse for your behavior. None whatsoever. Zero. Zip. I don't care what excuse you make, I will not accept it. Go ahead and try me. I can counter you excuse for excuse. In fact, here are a few I've heard that hold absolutely no weight with me: (To clarify: I'm not talking about normal, run of the mill fussing at your kids or having the occasional inevitable melt down, we all do that. I'm talking about chronic verbal and physical abuse and dismissive and demeaning interactions that demoralize children).
- The "My parents did it to me and I turned out just fine" excuse.
Really? You sure about that? If you learned to repeat the behavior of your parents who treated you badly then I would call that a less than stellar outcome. Ask yourself: How did I feel when my parents called me names or didn't listen to me or screamed at me in front of other people or hit me instead of talking to me? Was that okay with you? If so, keep on doing what you're doing. You're continuing a legacy, after all. If that's what you want to pass along down through future generations I suppose that's your prerogative. Only problem is, it doesn't just affect you and yours. It trickles into the lives of everyone around you. It contaminates our society and our ability to communicate productively and peacefully. Your kids learn to speak disrespectfully from you and they learn intolerance from you and they learn to demean others from you and then they go out into the world and spread it around. Then it affects my kids. I guess you think that's "just fine." Well, a lot of us don't happen to agree with you. I'll just speak for myself, here...It is NOT fine with me.
- The "I don't know any better way" excuse.
Good for you for at least acknowledging that you have a problem but that's just not going to cut it. I have heard this excuse come out of the mouths of many a person. It never ceases to baffle me that someone would be aware that they are hurting their kids because they don't have healthy parenting skills and yet do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about it. Buy a book. Take a class. Ask a friend or mentor for help. Watch a video on YouTube, for crying out loud. Oh, wait...I can hear it now..."I can't afford books." Really? Go to the library. "I don't have time, I'm a single mom." "I'm a busy stay home mom. I have too much on my plate." Poor you...Boo flippin' hoo. How about you make the time. Make it a priority. Give up something. Make an INVESTMENT of your money, time, resources, etc. to become a better parent if it does not come naturally to you. Saying that you don't know of a better way just means that you haven't made the effort to educate yourself because obviously it is not that important to you. There is a better way. Figure it out. Your children are depending on you. So is the rest of the world, by the way.
- The "It's their fault for getting on my nerves or behaving badly" excuse.
No question. Our children will challenge us, test us, try us and make us temporarily insane from time to time. That's what kids DO. I won't lie...there are moments when I lose my temper and get frustrated and raise my voice at my kids. Everyone does. It just goes with the territory. The question is, who is in control? If you constantly find yourself losing control, then there's your answer. I tried an experiment once and started whispering at my kids while they were in the middle of an argument. They all stopped talking in order to hear what I was saying. Kids get immune to yelling. They tune it out. Let's face it...yelling is not that effective and usually doesn't do much good. There are other approaches that do. The point is that kids behave badly and get on your nerves because they are kids and they don't know better. As parents, we are supposed to set limits and create an environment of learning so that they will learn to control themselves and become responsible little people. Children emulate and model their behavior after their parents. How will they ever learn control from you if you are out of control yourself? Think about it.
And just who do you think you are talking to, anyway? You want to know who you are treating like that? Never mind that they are your kids. Just who are they? Only the future. Just the people you and I will be depending on to sustain us and our world as we grow older. They are only future policy makers and physicians and scientists and skilled laborers who will build the roads and bridges and airplanes and automobiles that carry us around. Potential food growers and world leaders. It's not like they matter or anything, right? Who cares if they have low self esteem and feel like they are no good or stupid or aren't worth bothering with? Seriously...get a clue!
I could go on and on here but I'm not going to. I think you get the point. I get so heated about this because I was raised in a physically and verbally abusive environment. I have every excuse in the world to be a lousy parent but guess what? I'm a good mom because I CHOOSE to be. I'm not perfect by anyone's standards but I'm doing everything in my power to break off the generational curse of abuse, neglect and selfishness that is prevalent in my family history. I choose to make a difference every day because I know it matters so much. Because I love my children so much, I don't just want them to be happy, I want them to be better as a parent than I am. To make better choices than I have. And to pass it down. That is the legacy I want to leave behind.
It's all about perspective. Children are a gift, not a liability or a burden. It's all about how you look at it. As soon as you decided to have children, life ceased being ALL ABOUT YOU. You are not just 'you' anymore. Raising your children is the most important thing you will ever do. Don't take it lightly. You will have to make sacrifices. You will have to give things up. You will have to put some things on the shelf for a while. Your life will be taken over completely. Get used to it. Better still, embrace the opportunity to put yourself aside and focus on someone else's needs for a change. It'll be good for you. It's good for all of us to focus on others instead of ourselves. Your children will almost always be a reflection of you. I hope you like what you see in them. If not, I implore you now to make the tough changes you need to make in order to be the best parent you can be.
You may be asking yourself "what is in it for me?" Simply...love. The unconditional, beautiful, pure kind that only comes from the beautiful hearts of your children. They are full of it. They want to pour it out for you if you would just be willing to receive it and return it in the same spirit with which it is offered. Just like the love of God, it is offered freely and it is up to you whether you choose to accept it and embrace it or scorn and reject it. There are long lasting and powerful consequences to either choice. I recommend you choose wisely.
You may be thinking I should mind my own business. I'll just toss that right back to you. Mind your business so that I (and everyone else around you) won't end up having to mind it for you someday in numerous ways. If you don't like my tone, that's unfortunate. Kids are serious business to me. Anyway, it's just my opinion. Worth what you paid for it.
**end of rant**