permissive parents: curb your brats

i have come to admire the writing of l.z. granderson, a sports columnist who boasts an incredibly diverse resume.  he was a sportswriter at the atlanta journal-constitution and the grand rapids press before moving to espn.com. granderson is a clever writer who often uses sports and athletes as a construct for social change. granderson’s other claim to fame is that he “is one of the few openly gay sportswriters” (according to wikipedia).

i have also come to admire his opinions on parenting. granderson is divorced with a son.

today at cnn.com, l.z. granderson posted an essay (i borrowed the title for this post) that earned a standing ovation from me. take a moment to read it and then let’s talk about it.

If you’re the kind of parent who allows your 5-year-old to run rampant in public places like restaurants, I have what could be some rather disturbing news for you.

I do not love your child.

The rest of the country does not love your child either.

And the reason why we’re staring at you every other bite is not because we’re acknowledging some sort of mutual understanding that kids will be kids but rather we want to kill you for letting your brat ruin our dinner.

Or our plane ride.

Or trip to the grocery store.

Or the other adult-oriented establishments you’ve unilaterally decided will serve as an extension of your toddler’s playpen because you lack the fortitude to properly discipline them, in public and at home.

And we know you don’t discipline them at home because you don’t possess “the look.” If you had “the look,” you wouldn’t need to say “sit down” a thousand times.

If you had “the look,” you wouldn’t need to say much of anything at all. But this nonverbal cue needs to be introduced early and reinforced diligently with consequences for transgressions, just like potty training. And whenever a kid
throws a temper tantrum in the middle of the shopping mall it’s just as bad as his soiling his pants to spite his parents, and it stinks just as much.

I have seen a small child slap her mother in the face with an open hand, only to be met with “Honey, don’t hit Mommy.” I have seen kids tell their parents “Shut up” and “Leave me alone” at the top of their lungs — and they are not put in check. I shake my head knowing it’s only going to get worse from here.

If I’m sounding a bit judgmental, I assure you I am not alone in my judgment.

Remember that couple that was kicked off an AirTran flight for being unable to control their 3-year-old back in 2007? The child threw a tantrum, refused to get in her seat and delayed the flight by 15 minutes. In a subsequent interview with “Good Morning America,” the mother talked about how much more understanding the passengers were compared to the crew that removed the family. That may be true — but I’m also willing to bet plenty of passengers were happy to have a much quieter flight. An AirTran spokesperson estimated 95% of the 9,000 e-mails the airline received were supportive of taking the family off the plane, according to MSNBC.

Responding to complaints about crying babies keeping people awake, Malaysia Airlines decided to ban infants from first class in some of its flights.

I don’t know about you but I would gladly support an airline or restaurant that didn’t make someone else’s yelling, screaming, kicking offspring my problem.

And there are kid-free cruises and resorts for a reason.

Children are wonderful but they are not the center of the universe. The sooner their parents make them understand that, the better off we all will be.

This is the part of child-rearing people don’t like to discuss, because socially, it’s not OK to dislike kids. The ugly truth is it’s the spineless parents who parade their undisciplined children around like royalty that make people dislike kids.

Parents who expect complete strangers to just deal with it are not doing anyone, including their children, any favors. They are actually making things worse. Not only are their children allowed to interrupt social events and settings when they are young, but they often grow into disruptive forces in the classrooms later. And nobody likes them for that.

I covered education for years and one of the biggest complaints from teachers was about the amount of time they spent disciplining students. Their threats were empty because parents sided with their kids. And, of course, the use of
corporal punishment in the classroom is seriously frowned upon, and even punished.

Spanking is not a cure, and should not be the first resort, but I don’t think it should automatically be taken off the table when dealing with small kids. We’re so preoccupied with protecting children from disappointment and discomfort
that we’re inadvertently excusing them from growing up.

A young child slapping his or her parent’s hand away in defiance is not cute, it’s disrespectful. In my house, growing up, that would have earned much more than “the look” from my mother.

If I sound a bit old-school, I am. If I’m coming across as a bit of an ogre, so be it.

As a parent, I can empathize with how difficult raising children can be. There are challenges, especially within the framework of divorce, when parental guilt can sometimes blur what should be the best decision.

But I don’t believe making a child’s wishes top priority is a demonstration of love. Nor do I believe I, or the rest of the world, should act as a surrogate parents for somebody’s bad-ass kids.

You wanted them, deal with them.

there are two especially salient points here i want to emphasize:

1.) “Children are wonderful but they are not the center of the universe,” and 2.) “We’re so preoccupied with protecting children from disappointment and discomfort that we’re inadvertently excusing them from growing up.

i am passionately dogmatic about this subject because we (parents) are literally dismantling society with our permissive parenting.  we are raising a generation of callow, self-absorbed punks who won’t be able to function as adults.  and i fear our culture will not survive.

is this topic off-limits? what should the church be saying to this issue?

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “permissive parents: curb your brats

  1. Let me begin by saying I am single, and have no kids… so therefore I am no expert. But…

    I think what he is saying would make a great sermon. We’re the children and God is the parent. How many times have we (generalization) tried to slap God’s hand away. How many times have we said that we are the center of the universe, and not God.

    Kids are brought up with no punishment and therefore do not believe that there are any consequences for their actions. Is there any wonder why people believe that a loving God wouldn’t send people to hell?

    Society teaches fairness, but they do not teach that life for the most part isn’t fair. Jeremiah knew that. Christ knew that. David knew that. Every one else in the Bible knew that.

    I could go on, but just my two cents.

  2. Don’t know where he is in life life of faith but i would not hesitate having him come to speak to parents at the church I pastor or the school system we are in. too bad the parents who need to hear it are probably out running around trying to find their child or would say, “Whew! Glad he is not talking about me.” Thanks Randy.

  3. I’m visiting from Cycleguy Bill’s blog (hi Bill!) and I agree that many parents are way too permissive. It drives me crazy. I figure if I can be a single parent and still raise a well behaved, respectful child, then everyone else should be able to also – whether it’s a one or two parent home. No, my daughter isn’t perfect but she knows there are consequences for her actions. I could probably go on and on about this subject, so I’ll stop now. I may have to blog about it in the near future though.

  4. It’s all about boundries….and for the most part the generaions who have been taught boundries and conseqences are growing older without passing on those parenting skills to their children….I am a public school teacher who believes a child is best raised with firm boundries and clear consequences whether for good or poor choices. Many parents and students look at me a bit bewildered when I have held the boundries in my classroom…..and it gets tougher and tougher to be consistent with boundries with each year I teach. I actually an very apprehensive about the thought of teaching my current student’s children…..perhaps I’ll be independently wealthy by then or called back to China…great post…..should be a sermon….

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