I read this post today and it got me thinking about parenting and the "goodness" of a child. Here's a link to the post that activated my brain cells this morning.
Let's All Try Not to Be Jerks
To summarize, this mama recently had an experience at a store with her little one whereby her poor little guy was upset for some unknown reason and was very unhappy during her shopping excursion. Rather than receiving encouragement and/or sympathy, this mom felt hostility coming from other shoppers. I have to admit that I can't relate to this a ton in that in all of Boo's 3 1/2 years he's only lost it in public once. I do remember getting a few sympathetic looks that time and so I feel fortunate to have experienced that.
But what I have experienced is the opposite extreme. For the most part my child is polite and good-mannered when we're out and about. He does have his whiny moments and all, but nothing outright tantrumy usually. My point here is not what an angel my child can be, but that I often get compliments about how "quiet" he is, how "well-behaved", how "good." And I admit that as much as I'd like to puff up with mothery pride, there's always a part of me that wonders "Well, what if he was loud and kicking and screaming on the floor? What if bright lights and loud noises overstimulated him so much that he lost it each and every time I went into a store? Would this make him any less good?"
I get nervous at church where I have received several such comments on his "goodness". I wonder about how long this will last. Heaven forbid my child have a bad day in front of others. Will he then cease to be good? I have to wonder, what does this say about our culture and the value that is placed on children? A quiet child is a good child. So much for the child with so much spirit and zest for life that sitting still is an impossible feat. Or the child with such incredible depth of emotion and passion that life's daily challenges cause emotional overload and constant melt downs. Do things like this make a child bad?
I feel like this black and white thinking when applied to children is so very damaging. Children pick up on the perceptions of those around them. Will a child who was always seen as "good" grow into perfectionism later in life in order to continue to please those around him? Will a child seen as "bad" make choices that confirm that label later in life? Let's not view chidren as good or bad, but as colorful and wonderful individuals that are worth knowing and respecting. Wouldn't it be wonderful if as a society we could be supportive of the whole child, including the bad days and the meltdowns? What if we could likewise be supportive of frazzled mothers who are trying hard enough to simultaneously hold it together and support their child amidst trying moments? At least in my mind that would be an improvement to society. Thoughts?