Hissy Fit - September 2019

...because everyone needs one every once in awhile


September 2019 Issue
by Elizabeth Skenes Millen

How many times have I heard a teacher, who is encouraging students to speak up, say, “There are no dumb questions”? It’s a great theory, and in a learning environment, has a lot of merit. Allow me to take this theory to a parallel plane, where there still may be no dumb questions, but perhaps dumb choices to whom the questions are being directed. My beef, and what I’m getting at, is parents asking their children questions, which children have no business answering.

I understand the power of giving children age-appropriate options: Would you like to wear the red shirt or blue shirt today? This is probably an appropriate question starting at age 3 or so. But in this day and age of “No Discipline Parenting,” parents are giving too much decision making power to children, who, quite frankly, don’t have the skill-set yet to make those types of decisions.

Humans parent their children longer than any other living being on the planet. The reason: It takes that long to get them ready for adulthood. Therefore, a 6-year-old doesn’t need to be asked, “Where would you like the hostess to seat us?” I’ve seen this happen, and it made my eyes involuntarily roll. The gall of a parent running a hostess around a restaurant to the tune of a 6-year-old saying, “This one.” “No, that one.” “No, the one over there.” Seriously ridiculous!

If we’re not already there, which we may be, I can’t wait to live in a society where an entire generation, or two, think they are the center of the universe. When parents give unearned power to children, and children rule the roost, there is no other result. At this point, that’s exactly what the children have been raised to do—think of themselves. It’s as simple as 1+1=2.

Parents ask children questions such as:
Upon leaving the pool: “Are you ready to go?” Is that really up to the child? Will a child ever be ready to leave a pool? I can assure you, that was never my call; I was on my mother’s timeline.
I have heard this come out of parents' mouths: “We were going to put our daughter in XYZ kindergarten, but she didn’t want to go there.” If at age 5 she can make the decision as to the best place for her to be educated, I say go ahead and let her get her own apartment and register at Harvard. That’s a pretty big decision.

Here’s another question that has absolutely destroyed the eating habits of American children: “What do you want for supper?” Duh, chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese and ice cream. The reason is—other than brainwashed taste buds—they don’t have the knowledge to know better.

That’s the whole crux of this dilemma: Children are being asked questions they don’t have the knowledge to answer! Hey parents, don’t you get it? You are harming your children’s perspectives and futures! Don’t let your indecisiveness trickle down to allowing your kid to make the decisions.

Being responsible for adult answers when you are a child causes stress and anxiety. It’s too much, and kids innately know it. It’s why so many act out. They are not ready to be their own parents. Parents aren’t supposed to rely on children for advice, guidance and direction. It is supposed to be the other way around. I don’t care that it’s 2019, children are still children no matter how far we’ve “advanced” in the world.

Recently, I ask a friend if her if her grandson was coming to visit this summer. She replied, “No, he needs to stay in Richmond so he can be around his friends.” No he doesn’t! He’s around his friends all year. Knowing your grandparents and being in their environment is important. Do you know how much children can learn from grandparents? I hate to be the one to point this out: Friends come and go, especially when you’re young. This is sad, and once again, very tip-toe-on-egg-shells-child-centered.
Quit the coddling and wake up! Please, for your children’s sake. One day they are going to have to get a job, survive in corporate America, answer to a boss, raise their own children, get along with a spouse, and very few are being raised to have skills beyond thinking of themselves.

I was at a friend’s house and her daughter was there with her 2-year-old little girl. The daughter asked her mother if the little girl could stay with her for a couple of hours because she needed to get some things done. My friend said yes. However, when the daughter left, she had the baby in her arms. I said, “I thought the baby was staying.” Her response, “She didn’t want to.”

She’s 2. It’s not up to her. She does NOT have that level of decision-making skills. Stop the madness. You are setting your child up for an entire adulthood of rude-awakenings.

Lastly, I was in a class recently. A gentleman had to answer what’s the best moment he’s ever had and what he hopes for the future. He answered it very typically: My graduation from high school, college, my wedding, the birth of my daughter, those were all incredible moments. What I hope for the future is to see my daughter experience all those wonderful things, too.

I am happy people want the very best for their children. However, what’s missing in his response is what he wants and dreams for himself and/or his wife. Life doesn’t have to stop for you, or your spouse, because children come into your lives. If all the attention is turned to the children, you are not being a role model on how to live a life of your dreams, or have a good relationship. Thus, your life becomes narrow and so does your children’s because it’s all about them. It’s a vicious cycle—one we all need to quit riding.

My dad used to say, “Children are to be seen and not heard.” You know, in some cases he’s exactly right. If we acted on my dad’s words more often, there would be a lot less childhood depression, conflict, tantrums and drama, and a lot more respect. That’s right. Respect. It’s what parents used to demand. Yes, Ma’am, it’s time to get it back! And, there’s no need to ask your child if that’s ok.