Sunday, February 5, 2012

parental intentions

Overheard at the park, a father and his 4(ish) year old son

Dad: Let's go!  We're going to go see mama.  Are you ready?

Son: No!  I don't wanna go home!
Dad: I didn't say we were going home!  I said we were going to see mama.  Don't you want to go see mama?
Son: Whine, bitch, cry, squirm, protest.
Dad: Do you want me to call so&so's parents and say she cannot come over today?  Do you?  Do you?  Because you're showing me you do.
Son: *Shakes head.*
Dad: Fine then, let's go. *grabs hand* You need to be a better boy.  You're not a good boy.

Okay, so maybe there is nothing glaring or overt about what I have issue with.  A father was frustrated that his child did not want to leave the playground (I mean, seriously, are we so surprised?!).  Instead of asking the child if he was ready, the father could have made a statement that they were leaving.  Then, when the child protested, the father had many options but threatening?  Probably not a good motivator, at least not a healthy one.  

My biggest problem, however, is when he told his son that HE is a BAD BOY.  Yikes.  What's the take home message for this child?  Not that his behavior was naughty, disrespectful or negative but that HE as a PERSON is BAD.  While his father certainly did not mean that this child was inherently a bad individual, I'm not so sure a child could make that type of distinction.  In the child's mind, I'm willing to bet he heard, "I am bad."

This conversation is a valuable reminder to me - be thoughtful with your words, even in frustrating times.  With the best of intentions, I recognize that I will not always be able to speak respectfully to J.  However, I will try my darndest to "label" a "behavior" and not my child based on his actions.  In turn, I hope that his self-esteem and self-confidence are never questioned nor negated.

ANNNNNNNND here J is having a blast.

What do you think about this situation?  
Do you think I am being too nit-picky and not giving this father enough slack when it came to a frustrating situation?  
Have you seen any parent-child interactions that rubbed you the wrong way?


J.o.s.e.y said...

I 100% agree with your take on the situation - words are powerful things, and the Dad did not handle that correctly. Good reminder for us all...

Stephanie said...

I probably wouldn't have thought much of it before having Chloe, but now I definitely think I would choose my words more carefully. I want her to know that we are her biggest supporters and using words like "you are not a good boy" is definitely not very supportive. This is a good reminder for us on our hard days.

Jennie said...

I totally agree. I know a set of parents that constantly tell their son that he's bad. For a while they actually told him that the police will take him away if he's bad. He developed a huge fear of the police and would run to his room and hide/cry when he heard sirens outside. They are not the greatest parents (obviously) but I still don't think they meant to scare him quite that badly. I think a lot of people underestimate the power their words have on children. So sad!

eah42 said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! You made my day :)

This is an excellent post, thanks so much for sharing. Although I don't have children ::yet:: it really opened my eyes. I work with kindergartners, and I have one that's especially difficult. I have never officially called him a 'bad boy' but there have been instances that I have said something like "come on, you were being such a good boy, lets keep it up." I now wonder how this makes him feel.

Thanks again for sharing!

Callie Nicole said...

I agree with everything you said. He's the boss, he should have just told his kid they were leaving, and I agree that children probably don't make the distinction between behaving badly and BEING bad!

Sarah and Derek said...

Hey J! You've been tagged in my blog for the "11 randoms". I'm sure you've seen it on tons of blogs already so now it's your turn to answer some questions. :)

Baby Lately. said...

Good point, E! I agree that it is important to speak with intention and choose words carefully.

PS I adore J's little hat, TOO. MUCH. CUTE!

Kelly-Marie said...

I totally agree with what your saying, but I'm sure in stressed moments we probaly all say things like this at least once x x