Please Don’t Make Your Kids the Center of Your Universe

Wow.  I am posting this with fear and trembling.   I promise, promise, promise that I will get back on track and start letting you in on our projects after tonight.

I wrote this piece out on paper about a week ago, then have revised it almost every evening.  I have prayed about this post, yet I still am a little afraid that I am going to offend those of you who don’t know me.  I apologize in advance.  I love my children. And I think they both would tell you that they were not abused growing up. I am not apologizing for what I write, but I do apologize for offending you.

As an educator for almost 30 years, and a human for the last 52 years, I am alarmed by the growing trend in families to make children the center of their world/family.  I read on Facebook frequently statements that go something like “My precious children are my world…” It alarms me because as an educator, I have seen that change in classrooms and as a 52 year old, I can see retirement on the horizon and I am concerned that we are not preparing the next generation to take over for us.

There is an NFL channel football commercial where a dad is crying as his daughter watches pretty princesses and he misses the game.  It alarms me personally that the commercial did not bother me when I first saw it.  A dad not being allowed to watch his football game because his daughter wants to watch something different would not have been funny or cute when I was growing up.  In my wildest dreams I cannot imagine that taking place in the home where I grew up, or I hope, in the home we raised our children.

If you will indulge me, I have a bit of advice for you parents with children still in your home.

Parents, make sure you have your own lives, and let your children develop their own.  If you are doing your job as a parent, you are getting those children ready to go out into the world.  They are probably going to outlive you and they will also possibly be parents one day.  Your kids are counting on you to get them ready for their  lives outside your home.

During all the revisions of this post I boiled my list down to what I thought was most important to share, but I didn’t trust myself until I ran the list by several other educators to make sure I was on track.  I am not claiming to be an expert, just an observer.   It is my hope that you are teaching or modeling the skills that they will need and the values that you hold dear.  So, here goes my list of what I hope that you are teaching your children:

1.   Life is not fair. Period.  There will always be someone who has more money, is better looking, taller, thinner, or gets luckier breaks than you.  Work hard, do the best you can with what you are given and stop trying to be who you are not.

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Dumpday.com

2.  Your kids deserve the following things from their parents:  love and affection, medical care, food, clothing, and shelter.  They do not deserve a car at 16, a laptop, a $200.00 purse, or a smart phone or any of another thousand things that students I come in contact with have come to believe is due to them.  If you decide to provide your children with those luxuries and they do not appreciate them, PLEASE take the items away and encourage them to earn money for what they want.

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3.  There are winners and losers in life.  There will be teams they don’t make, jobs they don’t get, and games they lose. Losing doesn’t mean they should quit the team, the game, or the job search.  Quitters never win.   Please parents, teach your children how to lose gracefully, and win graciously.

“Failures are expected by losers, ignored by winners.”

Joe Gibbs

4.  Your children are family members, not guests.  Membership has its privileges, but members also have dues to pay.  As a member of your family they should have chores, not for pay, but because it is the expectation in your family that everyone pitches in.  Even little ones can pick up their toys, take their cup to the sink, and put their shoes away.

“There is no substitute for hard work.”

Thomas A. Edison

5.  Finally, show  your children that they are not in fact the center of your universe.  Please don’t stop what you are doing to go find a missing toy, or leave work to go home and get their lunch, or make them a different meal because they do not like what your cooked.  Allow these problems in their lives to become opportunities to struggle a little, help them to problem solve, to learn to be responsible, and to take responsibility for their actions.  Give them permission to grow up and become productive citizens.

“Growing up is hard, love. Otherwise everyone would do it.”
Kim Harrison

I would love to hear from you,

Karen

13 responses to “Please Don’t Make Your Kids the Center of Your Universe”

  1. Praise Him from whom all blessings flow! This is why you are the BEST! How could anyone in their right mind be offended by this! I hope we did at least half of this raising our two. And I think we did a pretty good job. But not without the help of great youth leadership in our church. Hint hint!!
    Love you!!

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  2. This was timely for me. I’ve been struggling with the thoughts about raising my daughter..last one of my kids at home. She is great, but sometimes expects to be the absolute centre..and does not want me to have desires that conflict with what she wants. Still trying to work out how to have a life and interests that don’t revolve around being a single parent. Thanks..I needed to chew on a few of these…:)

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  3. I so want to print this out and give to the parents of some of the children I know. I WILL print it and give to my daughter, although she already understands this, being an (new) educator herself.

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  4. Amen!! I here students say on an almost daily basis, “Ain’t no teacher taking my phone away from me. My momma wouldn’t even take my phone.” And they are telling the truth! Despite the fact that mom/dad paid for the phone and the monthly cost, they would never think of taking the phone from their little angel.
    I know young parents who will let their children have the run of the television. My children knew they were loved, but hey did not get control of the remote…lol.
    My children had chores even when they were small. As young adults they held jobs while attending high school and then college. I am proud to say that my granddaughters, even at their young age, know they have to help pick up toys when playtime is over.
    Like you Karen, I worry about our future with the ‘privileged’ and ‘entitled’ teens in the world today. And I know they are not all like this; I am hoping for the best.

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  5. Beautifully and thoughtfully written! I would only add that parents should always make time for their friendships outside the home. Some day your children will be grown and gone, and if you haven’t taken time to maintain your friendships, the “empty nest syndrome” will be unbearable.

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  6. This is by far, the best advice I’ve read on this topic… and I’ve been searching for hours. Thank you Karen. Definitely share worthy !
    .

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