I Hate the Word Hate

I read an article this morning regarding the Westboro Baptist Church holding a protest at the Wilson High School in Washington DC regarding the new principal being gay.  As I read the article and looked at the pictures that went along with it many thoughts came to mind for me.

First of all, no matter what side you stand on in this issue there is something extremely upsetting about children holding signs that use the word hate in it.  HATE.  The Merriam-Webster defines the word hate as:

a :  intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury

b:  extreme dislike or antipathy :  loathing <had a great hate of hard work>

Do kids really hate?  Or do we teach them to hate things?  Liam doesn’t have in his vocabulary the word hate.  I do not use that word nor do I like that word.  However he has told me he doesn’t like tomatoes .  He came to this on his own by trying it (an educated opinion).  On the other hand Liam has also told me he doesn’t like pork chops (which I have never made because I do not like them).  Since Liam has never tried it before I have to assume his aversion to them is because he heard me say I do not like them (a bias opinion).  I can’t help but wonder if these children “hate” a certain sect of people or is it because that is what they have heard so much.  There is something to be said in regards to the saying, “Little pitchers have big ears.”  So much of our children’s reactions and feelings about things are learned from watching how we respond to things.

I really really dislike snakes.  I am scared of them.  However, I have run into the situation twice now while on walks that we came across one.  I don’t want to teach Liam and Ava this fear, so as calmly as I could muster I let Liam and Ava take a look.  We are shaped by our surroundings and the experiences we have.  Without getting into a religious debate because that is not the point of this post, I can’t help but come to the conclusion hate is learned and is that not the opposite of what any religion would want?

I guess my whole point to this is we really need to be cognizant of the message that we are sending our children.  Without throwing out too many cliché lines, our future is based on the children of today and I for one would rather live in a future of tolerance and love than prejudice and hatred.

 

 

Three Going on Eight

Every mom has those moments. Those moments when you see something that is upsetting your child and you want to swoop in and make it better. It doesn’t happen all the time but when it does it takes everything in my power to stop and wait. The most recent moment happened this past weekend. We went to the Warwick Valley Winery (Happy Mother’s Day to me) and there were kids everywhere running around. Liam naturally wanted to join in but instead of nearing the group of kids that looked his age he went over to the kids 4 or 5 years older than him. I heard him say, “Come on friends let’s play.” The children were nice but their play was way too sophisticated for Liam and soon he was left in the dust. Sadly he went to a corner and asked to be left alone. It broke my heart at the time, and to be honest as I am typing this the tears are welling in my eyes. The logical part of me knows that there is really nothing wrong here. The truth of the matter is 8 year olds play much differently than 3 year olds; however seeing him so dejected killed me.

Later that afternoon we met a little girl named Willow who was three years old however Liam wanted nothing to do with her. This isn’t the first time I have seen this happen either. For whatever reason, Liam prefers to be around older kids. In the long run I know this isn’t a big deal but right now it seems very much so. I wonder if I waited too long to introduce him to kids his own again. He is always around adults and it wasn’t until this past March that he began school. Liam is a very social child but his wanting to be around older kids concerns me now because he will inevitable be rejected by the older children and have no interest being with the children of his age.

Then there is the other possibility. Liam is perfectly content and happy the way things are. Maybe I am being too sensitive over this. I in no way want to have my feelings influence his behavior. It might be quite possible that Liam’s tendency to want to be around older children will help him in the future.

For now I guess I need to just take a step back and congratulate myself on the fact that I have raised a three year old that is brave and eager to make friends and not worry about the age. After all age is just a number.

The Helicopter Parent the New Species of Parents

Helicopter Parents: Are they helping or hurting our children? By definition this is a parent who takes an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of their child or children.   Having seen it first hand prior to ever having children I hoped and prayed that I would not become one of those parents.  I remember vividly watching one mother scoot around her kid as he spun in circles to make sure he would not fall.  In my head I remember thinking this is crazy.  Now I would in no way want that child, my child, or any child to get hurt, however there is an important lesson that is being skipped over if we never let them fall.  We are not teaching our kids how to pick themselves back up.  Sure there are tears and moments to comfort but if we never let our kids fall then they never learn how to cope and move on.  I feel as kids get older this snowballs into bigger issues then just falling down and getting hurt.

We all want the best for our kids and for them to be happy. No one would ever intentionally put their children in harms way. However, when we remove all conflict from our young children’s lives we are also stripping them from valuable problem solving skills.  Kids no longer know how to take responsibility for anything.  I remember this becoming a new discussion when I was in college as a professor once retold a story of a parent calling him to excuse their son from the paper that was due because their son was not feeling well.  It seems ridiculous but it happens all the time.  When our children are not given the chance to be held to a certain standard they do not know how to stand on their own two feet.  This is quite concerning to me. As a society we are grooming children who someday will become adults and who have no accountability.  How are these children every going to become successful?  I believe it’s quite true that failure spurs success.  Without ever failing there is nothing to motivate you to move forward.  There needs to be conflict at times in our lives so that we can strive for something better.

I also think that when we are too overprotective of our children we are taking away a small part of pride for them. Deep down we all want to do well. When we become so involved with our children’s life that they are never given the chance to struggle with something, they can never feel pride in accomplishing anything. Liam loves to do puzzles and at times he gets very frustrated.   When he has a hard time putting it together, I simply offer some encouragement for him to continue trying and he finishes it on his own. The smile of success on his face says it all. This might seem small but it all builds up. Small problems as children will translate to big problems as adults. Small accomplishments as kids equal big payouts as adults. Allowing our kids to work it out not only helps them internally but also someday working it out with people. I am not suggesting never lending a hand or letting our children get into danger but the next time your son or daughter is struggling. Take a step back and let them work at it. Your not only helping them now but also for their future.

Tell It How It Is

There is no mincing words with a toddler.  They say what the mean and they mean what the say.  It’s as adults we become more illusive with our message and have a difficult time being direct.  For my supervisor its even a more difficult thing.

I used to analyze and go over and over in my head what went wrong every time I had a conversation with her.  I would think maybe it’s my body language, what I said, how I said it, and now eight years later I have come up with only one explanation she is a bad communicator.

As adults we often sugar coat topics to make discussions more bearable to handle.  So different from a two year old.  There is no questioning my son’s body language, tone, and message.  It is, “I am mad and you are about to pay for it.”  My supervisor I often feel comes across in a similar way but shockingly I think she is unaware of it.  Unlike my son who is acutely aware of his behavior and what he is trying to express, my boss seems clueless on how she comes off and becomes offended when you become defensive when her demeanor is putting off a very hostile attitude.  It becomes even more difficult because she sometimes gets so worked up she doesn’t even let you finish explaining before the rapid fire questioning begins and if you dare to question her approach she becomes very stern and stubborn; very much like my son right before I at times have to put him in time out.  However there is no timeouts for bosses and what is even more upsetting is that unlike my son who is young and has much to learn about getting along with people and communicating, she is middle aged.  She is not going to change, there is no chance of growth or adapting.  So then it comes to an acceptance on my part.  Just as I accept that Liam might have a temper tantrum or that there might be a timeout today, I must accept that I will never be able to be at ease speaking with my supervisor.  It will never be comfortable and it will always leave me feeling frustrated.  Maybe that is where I can take a lesson from Liam.  Just as he walks out of his timeout and starts fresh all over again maybe I can try to do the same thing with my supervisor after our next “talk”.  If not, at least maybe I can put myself in a temporary timeout.