Parents kill me! Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with a parent of two small children… about the behavior of one of those children. Trust me when I tell you that I (yes, me) actually tiptoed my way through this conversation, as I understand how very prickly parents can be. And, especially those rearing (or throwing) them in this “current situation” we call the present world.
Being a parent myself, I understand the claws that come out anytime a conversation seems to start with, “let me tell you about your child”; because quite frankly, no matter how that conversation begins, that is what and how it is heard. But, parenthood aside, I also like to pride myself on living life and approaching situations from a perspective based in reality, not denial. As much as I adore my daughter, I recognize, accept and can admit to the traits and characteristics that may indeed render her a rung below sainthood. Ha-ha.
So, when I encounter parents that seem to spend more time cultivating excuses rather than good behavior and respect, I am forced to shake my head in disbelief and annoyance. Parenting in this generation seems to have adopted a culture of an overabundance of tolerance for badly behaved children. More and more there seems to be an attitude that dictates that the standard associated with the rearing of children is either the teachers’ responsibility or the public’s fault. Parents are getting less engaged in discipline and more interested in appearances. Shame.
Now, let me remind yall again that I am a product of the West Indies; so for those that don’t know, growing up in the W.I. meant little or no tolerance for rudeness, disrespect or laziness and a bar that was set pretty high with regard to work ethic, pride and behavior. Naturally, some of us learned some lessons better than others and some learned nothing at all. But, all in all, these were some of what mattered greatly in most households and there was hell to pay if one wandered too far across the line! And, this is what I’m talking about today.
Let’s address this. In no way am I stating that those of us born and raised in the Caribbean are better, more respectful, hard working, well-spoken, elegant and classy human beings (although we are; ha-ha). What I am saying however, is that being raised in households anywhere where parents are demanding of high levels of behavior and performance can only serve your children and the public well. Sadly however, more and more we are seeing households where, either because parents are disengaged, overwhelmed, single, struggling, over-worked, over-indulgent, absent… or damn children themselves, what is being let loose on an unsuspecting world are children that no one either wants to or should be around. Children that are spoiled, bratty and lacking in manners.
So I spoke with a (black) mother who lives in the suburbs and whose daughter goes to a school that has a predominance of Caucasian children. The reason this is important to note is that for many, that is an important indication of “having made it”. To have made it out of the areas that are heavily populated by blacks, in part so that your offspring will not have to attend (heaven forbid) a public school in an area where the teachers are (supposedly) sub-standard and the children are (supposedly) below-standard, for many is a very public symbol of success. I mean, no one wants their child coming home with the lingo of the hood! Right? So, my little sweetness was just rude enough that forced me to reintroduce the Trini in me; making the roots of my very nappy hair curl even tighter! I handled her little ass; then, I informed her mother that she needed to check this burgeoning behavior!
Now, I started this post with these words, “parents kill me!” and here is why – after her mother seemed to acknowledge that, yes indeed, there are behaviors there she has been noticing that need to be corrected, she stated, “But you know, it’s those little White children she’s in school with that are passing on to her all that rude behavior”. I shit you not! Wow! So let me get this straight people – our children’s behavior is never a manifestation of what we are either doing well or badly – it’s either the nappy-headed ones teaching them to curse and ‘wild out’, or the white ones teaching them how to pout and be a brat?!? Do I have that right?
Listen, I’m done here. Some of yall need to stop passing the buck with regard to responsibility. Living in the world necessitates that we all interact with others and are therefore subject to influence. Parenting necessitates that your influence is present, stronger and more lasting! Stop making excuses for their bad behavior and start checking yours! Understand as parents that the amount of tolerance you may have for your bad-ass child will never mirror the amount that I will! Stop doing your children the incredible injustice of thinking others will accept what you will; you are placing them in an incredible amount of danger that way. Your ‘cute’ is another’s ‘annoying’! It’s quite simple really – yall need to stop raising your children for your world and start raising them for the world…