A little kid sporting a monstrously bad attitude is not.
It would be nice if children “caught” good attitudes as easily as they seem to catch colds. But they don’t.
Attitudes, like all life skills and responsibilities, have to be first modeled, then taught.
And every lesson begins first and foremost in the home.
For some further thoughts on taming the monster tendency in all of us…check out this excerpt from our book, Burdens Do a Body Good.
Childrearing: When Parents Pass on the Torch of Responsibility
Kids make messes. Big messes. Small messes. Some we can laugh about, others, not so much. Little kids with chocolate smeared faces and sticky fingers can make us smile. Big kids with bad attitudes, failing grades, and a speeding ticket can make us weep. Messes, they’re a part of life and we might well ask how much of our time is spent cleaning them up, our messes and those of our kids. If we’re real honest, sometimes the two overlap and maybe, just maybe…our parental messes cause or provoke some of those our kids get mired in. Then again, maybe not. Messy stuff.
Either way, a mess of any significant proportion has to be faced and dealt with sooner rather than later. As parents we want to believe that we’ve done all we can to prepare our children for adulthood and for that next step of independence they’re continually clamoring for. And yet when we adopt that no longer helpful, “let me fix it for you” response to our older children’s actions, it gives us away. At this important stepping out juncture, we must ask ourselves hard questions. Are we enabling (excusing) or ennobling (exhorting) our offspring through our intervention? Mind-boggling, isn’t it, the mess we make by not understanding the difference.
Moms enable their kids when they excuse or make excuse for their children’s poor choices. Moms can ennoble their kids by doing precisely the opposite. No excuses. No justifying. No condoning. Nothing doing. Nope. None of that. Not now, not ever. Not even a possibility. Clean it up, now. Mind your own mess.
Women, who give way and make excuses for their kids’ behavior, find it is easier in the short run. The kids don’t grouse or complain and they walk away feeling like they got away with something. And really, we know they didn’t, they know they didn’t. There’s no escaping from the repercussions of our decisions, be they little or large and to give kids a false sense of security on this front is mindlessly shortsighted at best. At worst, the messes our kids will make with their lives if they believe they can do what they want, when they want, and with whom they want, will only hurt them (and others) over the long stretch of adulthood.
Kids with moms who are perpetually cleaning up after them are (or likely will be) young adults who are ill-equipped to stay in school, enter the job force, or sustain any type of lasting relationship…just won’t happen, especially when life gets messy-hard (and it will). Their messes will continue to getter bigger and more confounding, and with ever-widening circles of clutter. Messier and messier. Until no one, not even their family will want to get close enough to even attempt to unravel the monstrosity.
When moms excuse their kids from living responsibly it’s a simple case of “benign neglect” which in medical speak means, “watching a problem clinically without really treating it.” Moms can sit and observe their kids’ behavior while doing absolutely nothing about treating (or correcting it). This type of parental neglect couldn’t be more detrimental. Not to forget self-perpetuating. One mess-ridden pile on top of another. Painful. Neglectful. And it could be…preventable.