I’m finding that as a parent, I am pretty much thinking and doing everything I said I wouldn’t. We all think we know what we’re talking about when we’re childless. We think we know the right ways to discipline, the right ways to love and encourage, the right ways to ensure we do so much better than our parents ever did. What a laugh. Parent-me wants to reach back into the past and slap Childless-me into next week.
Two of the beliefs I always had were that participation awards and wrapping your kids in bubble wrap were both completely ridiculous notions. Kids need to learn the difference between winning and losing, they need to know that you’re not always going to win in life, so why should you always win on the field? Kids need to learn to work hard to achieve awards and trophies and recognition. False, false, false. Kids, especially young kids, need encouragement. They need to know that whatever their best is, it is good enough. They need to know that just participating is winning. That is true in sports, in school, and in LIFE. And damnit, yes, if my son is part of a pass-the-parcel game at a birthday party, there better be a little prize for every kid playing! There is plenty of time for a 5 year old to learn he or she won’t always win. There is plenty of time for them to learn that the more you put in the more you get out of something. It is amazing what a difference a little stamp or sticker will make to a 5 year old. My son was upset because he didn’t get a certificate at gymnastics. We explained that those kids had graduated to the next level and that if he worked hard enough, he would one day too. The following week he got 3 star stamps in his record book and it made all the difference in the world. Kids just want some acknowledgement that they are doing a good job. And I think if they are there, and they are participating, they’re doing a fantastic job!
I’m not saying kids don’t need to learn these lessons. I just don’t think they need to learn them so young. But don’t ask me what age I think they’re old enough to start learning the lesson of losing. My ideal will probably change every year, and always be at least one year older than what my son is.
I also know I’ve heard in the past about parents who want monkey bars removed from playgrounds because they’re dangerous and I’ve thought, “What morons.” Then last week my son did a handstand and fell into a somersault in the playground at school and about gave me a heart attack. The ground at school is much harder than the nice, plush, springy floor mats at gymnastics. What if he had broken his neck!? Yes, this is how I think. I do sometimes wish I could wrap my son in bubble wrap and make sure nothing happens to him. He’s the only have I have! Not to say that parents with more than one child have spares so can not worry whether or not their kid breaks their neck…oh you know what I mean!
In any case, I am here to confess, I have been a Childless Parenter. I thought I knew what was best for kids before I had him. I thought I knew what to do, before I had him. Now that I have him, I may not still have it all right, but I will certainly try to figure it out as I go. Which I guess is all any of us can do.
Linking up for I Must Confess with Kirst at My Home Truths
Linking up with Grace for Flog Yo Blog Friday