You guys, one of my favorite things is people watching. I can’t get enough. I can remember when we were kid free and we would just go to random places throughout the city and sit, grab a drink and watch. Human interaction is fascinating. This morning, after I dropped the boys at school, I was heading to the gym (my now regular routine) and as I passed another mom walking her kids to school, I was drawn to the tone of her voice, it was a little condescending mixed with baby talk and she was directing it toward one of her kids who, if I had to guess is in second grade. I paused for a minute before continuing in my direction (the opposite, thank goodness), because her tone of voice was one I did not want to have to hear for any additional amount of time. BUT, it was her tone that got me thinking…does she think it’s effective to communicate with her kids while using baby talk? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against baby talk, under the right circumstances, like when it’s with a BABY. But I do have an issue with it when it’s with a school aged child who is able to comprehend inflection and perhaps, would be more affected by the appropriate tone.
I can remember being pregnant and having to take every single decision about myself and my kids into consideration. Just about every conversation with my husband centered around the fact that childhood is quick, so we should consider that as a small part of our decision and we should take into account that what we are actually doing is not having a “baby” but a person. I think that perspective is lost on some and it can change the experience entirely. For example, take naming your child, no, it’s not easy but once you get the idea that you’re naming a person that has to carry this name for THEIR WHOLE LIFE, you might ditch a name that sounds great for a baby but not so great for an adult.
I can also remember deciding that when they arrived we would always (mostly) treat them respectfully until they deserved otherwise. That includes talking to them like they’re adults, of course that does not mean allowing them to be privy to adult conversations they’re not ready for, but it does mean using the same tone of voice we use with each other as adults. I think it’s been beneficial in our home with regard to being respectful and considerate with one another. Our kids are just like everyone else’s…they can be the best thing since sliced bread one minute and the worst things on the planet the next. They are constantly going in and out of phases that everyone has to learn to navigate, they’re expressing independence on completely different levels and they’re pushing every button imaginable. Sometimes, when they do it, yelling ensues from all parties involved but it always (mostly) ends peacefully…or with a glass of wine if you’re me. Talking with your kids and not at them is the way to go.
I’m also one of those mom’s who doesn’t believe everyone deserves a trophy at the end of the season, or a prize for losing the game. This precedent we’ve set for our children is hurting them, not helping them. They have to know what real life is like regardless of whether it’s good or bad. Keeping them sheltered, coddled and helicoptered is hindering their growth and not allowing them to fully experience their own lives for themselves. I get the reservation in this…none of us wants our child to suffer in any way, shape or form…except that’s not real life and if we don’t allow it from an early age, it will be really hard for them later on. No one is immune from life, and you trying to make it easier on them is only going to make it harder on you in the long run. When my kids fall down on the playground or get injured during a sporting event, I sit and watch for a minute to assess the situation, I never immediately run to their aid. Most of the time, from my spot on the park bench, I tell them to get up, dust off and continue on and they’re fine. My rule is: if there’s no blood and they have all of their limbs in the right places, then they’re good to go. Play on!!
We teach our children to live by the golden rule (it’s my favorite), and if we can’t as their parents treat them as we would want to be treated, how can we expect them to do the same to us or worse, others? Food for thought…speak to your kids the way you want to be spoken to and respect them the way you want them to respect you. Makes it easier, trust me.