Making Parents Feel Bad For Making Kids Feel Good
Let me say right off the bat that this post is based on two recent articles, and two articles do not constitute a trend nor a major shift in the parental cultural zeitgeist. However, two articles are enough to make me angry enough to write a blog post in rebuttal.
I read the first article, Jennifer Lehr's "Are You Damaging Your Kid's Self-Esteem?" on parenting site Babble two weeks ago. In the article, Lehr outlines a few parenting behaviors that make her so upset that she describes feeling "vicariously oppressed" on behalf of the child who has fallen victim to such poor parenting, such that she really feels she has no choice but to butt in and reprimand the offending parent. And what are these egregious acts of parenting being committed, the ones that get Lehr's judgmental hackles up? Surely Lehr must be witnessing acts that constitute legitimate child abuse, illegal crimes, or at the very least behaviors that are grossly unacceptable to society. No, Lehr is getting all riled up when she hears a parent tell a child to put on a sweater.
Lehr asserts that "Put on a sweater" tells a child that he or she is incapable of judging sensations within his/her own body, that an outside person (the parent) is much better at determining these internal sensations, and that therefore the child's opinion doesn't matter. That's reading a bit too much into put on a sweater, don't you think? Furthermore, Lehr states that the common parental comment "Eat just one more bite" sends kids the same message about their inability to judge and regulate their bodies' needs.
In case Lehr's article didn't make you feel insecure enough about the seemingly innocuous parental comments you make every day, she has a blog in which each post gives another example of a common parental saying that is sure to scar your child for life. Lehr's blog is called "Good Job" and Other Things You Shouldn't Say Or Do (Unless You Want to Ruin Your Kid's Life). I think the title kind of says it all: Your attempts to make your child feel good today will just make him/her feel worse in the future when he/she realizes the world is actually a harsh and disappointing place.Continued on the next page