It’s rare that I find a blog or internet article that truly irritates me. Usually I’m pretty realistic about the fact that people come from different places and form different conclusions. I am not one to sit at my keyboard arguing with other people’s opinions, but here I am doing it, mostly because I think something needs to be said.
Yesterday, this article: Why My Kids Are NOT the Center of my World showed up on my Facebook news feed several times with enthusiastic comments, “this is great!” or “I agree completely.” And of course, all of these women are great mothers, so it peaked my curiosity even more. Clearly, the catchy title was not the meat of the article.
So, curious, I clicked. And what I read surprised me. What I read was a loving Mom who is doing the best she can and probably really does get it. She probably really does teach grace and kindness to her children, which was why I was so sad to see this snapshot of her parenting that was highly unrealistic and honestly, a little dangerous apart from this context.
To summarize, it said this:
1. We coddle children. We make them feel too important. They start to think they are special.
2. Kids are just mean. That’s “just kids” and there’s nothing anyone can do about that so we might as well let them fend for themselves.
3. Bullying isn’t real. It’s just kids being oversensitive.
4. We spend too much time making kids “busy” and they never learn how to exist otherwise.
Well, my well-meaning dear. I have to disagree, at least on most of these points. My child is my world. To the probably very fantastic mother who wrote this, let me go through your points and share my viewpoint:
My child is special to me. He is a treasure to me and I tell him every-single-day. Multiple times. In turn, he understands his role as a “Prince,” a son of the King, set apart. In our house we have one mantra we borrowed from one of my favorite bloggers:
“I am special because I am a child of God. I am humble because I believe that everyone else is too.” – Glennon Melton
I want my child to know he is a beautiful and special so that he might be brave enough to be kind, even in a world that isn’t. And even more importantly, to be confident enough to stand up to unkindness when he sees it happening.
He never has to compromise his beliefs to placate the world. He never has to feel unloved or take these “mean” opinions to heart. He is a child of the One true God. He is spectacular, formed by God’s own hand, for God’s own purposes. While I’m sure he will doubt this – the teen years, especially, are hard -this is the lesson I want to engrain in his little heart that he comes back to whenever he is unsure.
This is my son’s life verse:
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
– Psalm 139:14
There is a difference between “coddling” and making a child feel special – reminding them that they were made perfectly and deliberately by a Creator. I will never tell my son he isn’t special. He is. My God says so.
But I will also remind him, all the time, that everyone else is, too. It is his job to be loving and kind and treat every single person he meets as a treasure of God. This is what I teach him, NOT that “kids are just mean and that’s part of life” justifying unkindness. There is no justification for unkindness. I will never tell him to accept that. I will tell him to be better than that. And to be love and kindness where none exists.
Unkindness does exist. Make no mistake of this. And moreover, bullying is real, and not something imaginary to be dismissed as a “rite of passage” as I so frequently hear. Children have killed themselves over bullying and the idea that schools are doing too much rather than too little to combat bullying is one with which I will never agree. How desperate must one truly be to end their own life. It’s heartbreaking. Conflict and bullying are two different things and if you would like to tell me that children need to learn to solve conflict on their own – I won’t disagree with you for a minute. But we will have to agree to disagree about bullying being a pretend overinflated problem and something children need to deal with on their own. I just don’t buy that; I have seen far too many brokenhearted and suicidal children who can’t focus on learning because they are concerned about their own safety. Sorry.
To be fair, you make some good points. I agree that “entertaining” children all the time seems silly. I love to spend time with my child and do activities with him. That’s how we form a bond and how he learns, but he does need time on his own or with other children to learn other important skills as well.
Also, while I would never advocate Mom shaming – as if motherhood isn’t hard enough without us all judging one other, you are probably right about electronics. However, I most certainly have taken my iPad to restaurants when my husband and I haven’t had a date in months and the closest thing we are going to get to one is to occupy our child during dinner. Yep, guilty. For this reason, I have a lot of trouble judging other Moms for doing what they need to do to survive. But sure, boredom is helpful in cultivating imagination. Hey, we found something we agree on!
My job – however flawed I may be at doing it – is to be the model of God’s love for my child. God’s love does not say “the world is hard, deal with it.” While we may be sent into difficult situations, our Father holds our hand through it every step of the way, an example I hope to follow as a mother.
It also does not say “it’s normal for kids to be unkind.” It says “you are special. You are set apart. You are loved. Now go BE love.” I don’t want to teach my child how to just deal with the unkindness in the world. I want to engrain in him a desire to change the world – to see injustice and unkindness and say “that’s not okay, and I want to change that!”
Is that always easy? Of course not. The world is hard and for this reason, I am a soft place to land. I am unconditional love in a world that isn’t always loving. That is my job as a mother. That is a job I learned from my God who made my child, and all of His children, special. Who cherishes them. And holds them closer when the world is hard.
In conclusion, yes my child is my world and he will be reminded that he is a treasure every single chance I get. My child is special, made by the Creator’s hand, just like everyone else. And every single child needs to be reminded of this.