Don't Take Your Children Seriously!

Parenting IS serious business. But, as Susan describes, taking children seriously can cause trouble.

The job of parenting is serious business.  I, like most parents, take the job very seriously.  

Alternatively, children should not be taken seriously*.  WAIT  Don't push "reply" just yet (but definitely comment after reading!).  

Consider the following scenario:  

Little Timmy comes running to the preschool teacher because Freddie said his red shirt was "stupid,"  The experienced teacher wipes Timmy's tears, smiles, and says something like "I like your red shirt, it's very handsome on you.  You're okay, run along and play now."  

In that example the experienced teacher understands that to Timmy, the insult was the end of the world and that in the big picture, it's not a big deal.  She took her job seriously but not the child*. 

I recommend to parents that they do the same.  Yes, take your job as parent seriously.  No, do NOT take the child seriously*!

Here's an example of me just a few months ago taking my younger daughter too seriously (spoiler alert: the parent coach is NOT a perfect parent):  

My daughter insisted that she "HAD" to have a certain costume for a summer camp. She was very serious. So, I went into planning mode.  

I thought about what stores would have a Dorothy costume (I had a list of 3).  I planned a trip to the stores. I started fretting about the expense of this costume. I started getting angry at the camp for not giving notice that there would be extra costs involved. I thought about the fact there was NO mention of purchasing a costume. I started an e-mail in my mind because this camp needed to know how disorganized they were and that they can't expect parents to pay for costumes at the last minute...Wait!  Why am I taking an 8-year-old's word for it*? 

I told my daughter that I was not going to take her to the store to buy the outfit she needed without confirmation from the teacher.  With that, I tried to put the matter out of my mind.  That afternoon at pickup, my daughter handed me a Xeroxed note.  It was to all parents from all the teachers.  It gave details of Friday's final performance and included "Do not buy costumes for the performance.  Use what is available in your home..." When I pointed this out to my daughter, she smiled sheepishly and said "Oh."  

We all need reminders that children see things from a child's perspective. They are childish.  They have childish ways.  I may be old(ish) but I remember when I was a kid. Every little thing was the biggest deal to me. But my mother was the adult and she knew what was a big deal and what was just my childish drama.  I felt she "didn't understand."  But she did.  She understood that children act like children.  She took her job as parent seriously but she did not take me seriously*.


*IMPORTANT:  there are times when a child tells an adult something serious. Loving, caring adults will know when a child is in danger or is telling something that needs action from an adult.  If your child tells you something or if you have a feeling your child is in danger, ACT on that!  Children do NOT make up stories about serious issues and any accusation a child makes that involves a serious matter needs to be taken seriously.  Trust your instincts!  Leadership Parenting is loving authority for the best interest of your children.


Susan Eppley, Master Leadership Parenting Coach



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