Don’t Say It – Don’t Think It

August 23rd, 2019 Posted by Practical Parenting 10 comments

What three words can undo your child’s fond memories of summer? What eleven words can seriously damage your relationship with your child?

Imagine this scenario: You and your children are at the beach, or the park, or the market. School starts in a few days. A fellow mom says, “Aren’t you counting down the days?” Without thinking and maybe with an exaggerated eye-roll you answer, “I can’t wait.” Or worse, you say, “I’d go crazy if I had them home for another week!”

What message have you just given your children? The message that having them around is a burden. The message that they go to school, not for their own benefit, but for yours.

I was speaking to a long-time pre-school teacher over the weekend and I asked her what she sees as the biggest difference in her students’ parents from twenty years ago to today. One of her answers was that many of today’s parents are at a loss when they have to spend time with their children. Some of them actually seem afraid of that scenario. They are comfortable driving their children from one activity to the next and they can plunk their kids in front of screens to entertain them, but they are unsure of themselves when it comes to simply being together.

How we talk affects how we act. I don’t know one woman who wouldn’t cringe if her husband referred to her as his “ball and chain.” Yet, that language was actually once pretty widely used in banter.  It didn’t serve to make men adore and admire their wives or make wives feel appreciated. It is good that it is no longer socially acceptable to speak like that. Let’s make an effort to hear how we talk about our children and insure that they—and we—know that if we send them to school it is for their benefit and that we sacrifice our time with them for that reason alone.

10 comments

Sarah says:

I cherish time with my Children. We started homeschooling when my oldest was 8 because I thought to myself, ‘I only have 10 more years of this child under my roof, and the last 8 have gone so fast’. The year we decided to homeschool, we had such a fun summer together, school was starting in a week, and I was sick to my stomach thinking about taking them back to school. Once my husband was convinced to try homeschooling we have never looked back. I spend every day with mine, not just holidays, weekends and evenings. We have so much fun together. I am always there, the one running them around with their friends, taking them on field trips, snuggling as we do lessons, taking nature walks, arranging social activities, participating in co-ops. We are as busy as the traditionally schooled friends, but we are busy together. My friends who send their children to school say the things that are hurtful. “I couldn’t spend all day with her, we don’t get along that well.”, “we would drive each other crazy if we were home together all day”, “I can’t spend all day with him, I’d want to kill him by the end of the day”. If you don’t want to spend time with them, then why did you have them? What doesn’t make sense to me is that they raised these children from birth. The child is a product of the parent. My children are very different from each other but both have been raised by me. So how could I not want to be with someone that I have created and moulded into the person that they are? If I don’t want to be around my child doesn’t that mean that I have done something wrong along the way? Their childhoods are so short, I want every second that I can get with them. If I give them my time now, hopefully they will give me their time in the future.

Susan Lapin says:

Sarah, I too, loved homeschooling. I think a lot of moms say these horrible phrases because they have never actually thought about what they are saying or what their kids are hearing. If you see Jerry’s comment, I also think that there is an adjustment period when kids and parents are used to the routine of school and people don’t realize that they have to get used to being together again.

Jerry L jones says:

I loved having my kids home for summer , I admit I pretty much heard the opposite from most other Moms. It took about one rough week to get them back under MY authority again ,and then we were fine . Many of the neighbor kids ended up at our house all summer , some for every meal and until dark…( this was also common when I was a kid 50 years ago ) .I enjoyed having them , we went to the lake every day that was sunny , they had camp outs , read books and the Bible aloud everyday. Chalked sidewalks and laying in the grass looking at clouds..and chores . I feel sorry for the young Moms who never experienced these summer things themselves and don’t know how to enjoy their children. I volunteered in a day care for 3 hours once and I was about frantic to get out of there …a story , singing with hand motions ,play with blocks , march to a drum ..Every 10 minutes it changed , it was horrible , the teacher told me it was because children have short attention spans ! No wonder Moms are overwhelmed because they think that is normal , and that is what they are supposed to do. I feel bad for kids who hear these things . Karen

Susan Lapin says:

Jerry, what a wonderful summer you gave your kids – and their friends!

Rachel Peachey says:

Thanks! That is such a good point! I love having my children at home with me. And I am so thankful for our parochial school that they attend. Right now we are adjusting back into the school routine. I love having more one on one time with my preschoolers while the others are away. But picking them up is the best part of the day. I know you didn’t exactly say this, but I feel reminded to verbalize to my children how much I miss having them around at-home. Children are a blessing, and should be treated as such.

Susan Lapin says:

Rachel, I think you’re right that we forget to tell our children how much we enjoy being with them.

Teena says:

As a Mom, my husband wanted a two income household, and I longed to be with our children. As society has it, we get drawn away by the desires of ‘other things’. But I had the understanding of quality time and created times like date night. They even each took turns planning menus, shopping and preparing meals for the family. We worked on school projects together that I have kept and enjoy. It’s mind blowing the cards we took time to create for one another. Once I retired, I was blessed to babysit our youngest granddaughter the next day she came home from the hospital. I had to teach her independence and how to go [on] without me. Otherwise, potty training would be difficult. Lol! Now she’s attending pre-school and when I talk with her it’s like talking with an adult because we have common interests or maybe we know one another just that well. I am happy that as grandparents, we can [still] provoke our children to love and good works no matter how old they get.

Susan Lapin says:

You are right, Teena, that grandparents can be very influential – and have fun at the same time!

Fern Crossley says:

Our culture has morphed into instanteous gratification and our society will suffer in our next generations. In addition to our dependence in artificial intelligence will rob our creativity for life as you knew it growing up

Susan Lapin says:

Fern, I think that there can be a movement back to a healthier way of living if we each do our part and get help from Above.

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