Friday, May 4, 2012


Hi! Connie Palmer here and usually I don’t write much about kids on this blog. My late husband and I raised four children who are all grown now and are out on their own, so the subject is not one that occupies much of my time.  Yet when I went on the internet this morning and read this article with the title, “5 Things Parents Shouldn’t Say to Their Kids”, I changed my mind.  I decided that I had something to say about this.

Again we got some “experts” telling parents what will ruin our kids for life.  While I can agree with the therapist who said that “words hurt and they can’t be taken back, so be careful”, I find it hard to agree what some of the other things that other “experts” went on to say.
Don’t say, “I don’t care because you’re cutting off communication with your child and saying that something important to him or her isn’t so important to you.”  
Okay, I can understand that. What is recommended is telling the child that they can share what they have to say with you at the end of the day.  That sounds reasonable, but I’ve got to admit that I didn’t have time to sit down and address all of the things that my four kids—who were all two years apart—had to tell me about every little thing, every minute of every day.  I had a business to run, a house to clean, homework to check, sports events to attend, parent-teacher conferences to go to, a husband to try and make happy as well as love to dispense to everyone in the household, not to mention elderly parents to care for and worry about. I don’t remember having enough time at the end of the day to address much of anything else but sleep.     

Don’t say, "Act your age!"   The therapist says that this is less about the child's behavior and all about the parent trying to manage his or her own frustration. The child may, in fact, be acting their age. "Instead, “come up with an effective response instead of a reaction.”  Of course she can’t give you the “effective response” because then she’d be blamed if it didn’t work.  It is assumed that in a parents very busy day they have nothing but time to go through a list of things to say to your eight year old, laying on the floor in the middle of a grocery store having a tantrum.  
I guess I flunked on that one, because I did say “act your age”.  I say it now to my grown children and to my grandchildren, and I’ll continue to do so.  I personally  think that with maturity comes increased responsibility.  So sue me.  
Don’t say, "Say you're sorry!" The reason for this one according to Bill Corbett, a parent educator, author, producer/host of the parenting TV show “Creating Cooperative Kids, is that "forcing a child to apologize does not teach a child social skills." He suggests that if your kid hits another kid this is what you should do:  “apologize to the child for your kid as a way to model the behavior you're trying to encourage. And make sure that when you're in situations where an apology is warranted, you deliver it just as easily.
 All I’ve got to say about this one is, are you kidding?!  I have no problem saying I’m sorry if I do something wrong, because it’s wrong, and I damn well expected my kids to apologize for the same reason, and they still do.

Don’t say, "Don't you get it?" if your child doesn’t understand how to do something after many unsuccessful tries.  Learning specialist and author Jill Lauren says that “Implicit in a 'don't you get it' comment are the judgments of 'Why don't you get it?' followed by 'What's wrong with you for not getting it?” She suggest that the parent steps away from trying to teach a child something,  perhaps  research alternative approaches to teaching whatever it is your child is trying to learn and go back to them again and teach it. 
Oooookay.  While I don’t totally disagree with what’s being said here, I just have to say that I personally envy all of the parents out there who have the time to do all of this research.  Times really have changed.

And this last one is my favorite.  Don’t say "I'm going to leave without you!"  Deborah Gilboa, a family doctor, parenting speaker and mother of four boys says that saying this results in the child quickly learning that parents make empty threats.  The doctor’s suggestion is this: "You can tell them it's not acceptable but you have to motivate them with a consequence that you can carry out." 
Uh huh, and this sounds like what we did.  When our kids were young and inconsiderate enough to disregard the time limits of our family, we wouldn’t let them go on the next outing, reminding that child that they had made us late the last time they went along.  When they were older, we also didn’t make empty threats. We left them. I can’t tell you how many times one of our kids had to chase the car down the street, or call one of our relatives to pick them up or get on a bus and come home.  The results have been four prompt kids who up to this very day are respectful of other people’s time. So I guess we passed this one, not that I care what these experts had to say.  Ooops!  I’m not supposed to say that.
Anyway, some non-expert like me who also read this article came to the following conclusion about the results of all of this expertise.  He left this comment:  “ we have a culture of spoiled people with little sense of humanity except their own.” 
Maybe all of us need to muse on that!

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