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How did we get so precious about parenting?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot the past week. How we’ve become so precious about our children and about parenting in general. And I certainly don’t mean precious in an over protective or good way either. What sparked it all was the Valentines day celebrations which are happening in varying degrees across schools around the country at this very moment! 

I have two children. That means two sets of V-day celebrations to prepare for (remember when V-day was about your secret crush in high school or your love?) Not so much anymore. Now my 6 year old was assigned a boy she had to buy a gift and create a card for in her class, with a note attached saying that we could also send something for the teachers and …. oh…. don’t forget the admin staff. And my not-even-3 year old had to create a V-day card for every person in her class, in the spirit of teaching kids the value of receiving a thoughtful card as apposed to always receiving a gift. 

It’s a really beautiful sentiment but here’s my problem. And I’m going to be blunt, heck, I’m going to call a spade a space and you may not agree but know that at least I’m being honest. At what point do we stop creating this fantasy world for our children? At what point do they get booted from this cutesy fantasy world where a crappy homemade card (and I’m not being cruel, I love what my children make for me, but I certainly don’t want to display or cherish every crappy homemade card made by everyone elses kids) is worth more than a gift, a chocolate, a flower or even just time spent hanging out together? 

The thing is, at some point in the next few years, our children are going to start growing up and live in the real world. A world where not everyone gets a card, or a chocolate or a flower on Valentines day. A world where as an awkward teen they’re going to realize that they’re not the popular girl that we taught them they were because some boy was assigned to buy them a gift on V-day when they were 6 or because they got a dozen cards for V-day at age 2 (almost 3).

I know, I learned that lesson and it sucked. Sitting in assembly in high school on V-day, an awkward teenage with freckles and braces, watching as all the girls collected their roses and cards and notes from the boys at our brother school and I never got anything. Not a damn thing and it sucked but you know what? It’s the real world and it happens every day as a grown up. You’ll be past over by someone, you’re not going to be the smartest, the fastest, the prettiest, the best at everything. You’re just NOT. That’s not real life. And even if you are the smartest, the fastest, the prettiest, it doesn’t last, there is always someone who will surpass you. 

Why does V-day even have to be a thing for kids? Heck, why does V-day even have to be a thing? It’s stupid and means nothing. If you want an excuse to buy me a chocolate, just do it because you love me or were thinking of me, any day of the week or year! 

And that brings me to my next point. And I am SO very conflicted about this because I want to protect my children and I want to make every experience nice for them but that’s not real life. And sometimes in our desire to be so precious, we actually hurt and confuse them more with the mixed messages.  This newish thing of everyone getting an award or a prize. What utter bullshit? How very unfair on the people who have excelled. How very unfair on the person who hasn’t, let’s reward them for not performing, lets reward them for simply showing up. How do we strive to be better, to do better in a world that rewards our kids for simply showing up? 

We’re not all going to be rocket scientists so can we award the child that is? Because every one of us has a strength and rocket science isn’t for everyone, so you’ll get your award and recognition somewhere but it doesn’t have to be for showing up to rocket science classes. 

I’m so conflicted! But I also feel that all of these activities designed to teach our children valuable life lessons are instead setting them up for a life of entitlement and expectation. 

You may not always or ever get anything on V-day. You may not ever win the race. You may not ever be the smartest kid. But you will be good and you will excel at something and I’d rather focus on finding your passion and your excellence in that than rewarding you for mediocrity. 

Also on the topic of V-day just so my husband knows, while I am looking forward to the gawdy, jagged heart shaped cards that drop glitter everywhere, from my children,  if my husband comes home with a badly drawn and roughly cut out heart with a glitter factory dumped on it, I will drop kick you two ways to next Sunday because yes, while I’m sure you were also taught that it’s the thought that counts, you can do better! 

 

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19 Comments

  • Reply Fertile Minds

    I agree with you. I have also been thinking about how parenting has changed from when we were kids. It feels like it has gotten more complicated and there are so many names for different types of parenting. For me it creates too much pressure so I am trying to simplify it in my mind.

    Jayden was simply asked to dress in red for valentines day and the teachers were painting hearts on the kids cheeks when I dropped him off…….and I seriously think thats enough. Making cards for everyone in your class and buying gifts for someone you are assigned to ………..No! Its a bit of an over kill and a massive pain for the parents.

    February 12, 2016 at 9:18 am
  • Reply Lise

    Yes, yes and yes again! An anyway, why would you want to spend hours helping your kids make endless cards. Don’t even get me started on everyone getting a prize. Not only is it bad for the kids to think they deserve something they haven’t earned (and showing up doesn’t count), but the parents have to sit through the endless prize givings.

    February 12, 2016 at 9:20 am
  • Reply Paula

    Goodness yes! I so totally agree. V day has become completely out of hand and yes to the ‘prizes for everyone’ thing too. It is wonderful to have a happy childhood but our kids need to be prepared for the real world out there where you get what you worked for. And that needs to happen from school. Our school gives prized for outstanding performances and in addition each child gets a yearly certificate for an individual achievement such as perseverance or good manners or such. So perhaps that is a bit of both? Very difficult to balance these things. Thanks for a pertinent post Sharon!

    February 12, 2016 at 11:14 am
  • Reply Marcia (123 blog)

    I’m actually listening to a book at the moment, Parenting your Powerful Child…. and he says we teach them from young how the world is, and yes, all this Everrrrrybody gets a Prize business is rubbish. They are special snowflakes to us but they need to feel a little bit of the real world 🙂

    Good luck with all that glitter.

    We received a glitter present once and we did it, and that, I’m afraid, was that. I do lots of other crafts/ messes, etc. but glitter is the gift that “keeps on giving”.

    February 12, 2016 at 2:27 pm
  • Reply ChevsLife

    Oh my word! Assigned peer to give a Valentine’s gift? That’s a bit extreme for what Gr.R/1? I agree with your sentiments on this reality. I’m glad I just got a note regarding colors to wear for Civvies on Monday.

    February 12, 2016 at 5:55 pm
  • Reply ailsaloudon

    I absolutely agree with you. And what about parents who battle every month to get through the month. And the teacher gift thing is damn nonsense. I am so glad I don’t have kids at school but I do have grandchildren and I know that there aren’t that many pennies to spread around.

    February 13, 2016 at 11:19 am
  • Reply Rolene

    My husband and I were just talking about that the week… everyone getting an attendance certificate.

    I am not sure about my thoughts on that, but I know real-life doesn’t work that way. You have to work hard to get somewhere. Although I want to protect my baby from as much as possible, I have to raise my child to survive in real-life.

    I saw a quote that says you are not only raising a baby, but someone future husband and father. It changed what I am working for.

    Thank you for this honest post.

    February 14, 2016 at 7:47 pm
  • Reply catjuggles

    AH yes Sharon – you make so many good points. I am also really conflicted about this. I actually have a post in my drafts about a piece that was read at our school prize giving last year that address exactly this. To be honest I love that up until grade 3 everyone gets something at prize giving. I also love that from grade 4 onwards the top achievers gets singled out specifically in every field. Lucklily we do not have forced Valentines – and I think that’s great. Some classes teachers or the class mom brought a chocolate but that’s about it. We had to deal with our first Valentines dance – and that was something new too with it’s own pitfalls.

    February 16, 2016 at 2:56 pm
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