Are these your parents? Young, energetic, concerned, compassionate, complimentary: perfect. They don’t fill your life with Shoulds and Coulds. You know:
- “You shoulda done this,
- You shoulda done that,
- Your Daddy’s too thin
- And your Momma’s too fat.
- Get over it!”
Oops. “The Eagles” snuck in. Sorry.
YOUR parents (see above) suggest, encourage, demonstrate, assist, and compliment. Wonderful. But some parents are not so tactful. Listen to them.
“You should do your homework.” You got home from school, tutoring, and band practice 7 minutes ago. You explain. “Band today? I bet you could have done better.” That could be true. But is that necessary? Is it encouraging? Does it make you want to race back to the band director and say: “Can I practice some more, sir?” Not likely.
Luckily, your parents are not like that. But let me give you an example, or a few examples, of another type of parent. It will be instructive, entertaining, and —best of all— not involve you the least bit.
Yes, there they are. Another type of parents. On the surface, they look just like yours. OK, maybe a bit cartoonish. But they are a little older. It happens.
For these people, parental concern can lead to disappointment, frustration, and comments —perhaps in the form of guidance (perhaps not). Their parent-child interaction is always designed to bring improved child behavior in the long run (which is, ideally, a short sprint). An initial parental surprise can lead to confronting a crisis and using an unforeseen event as “a teaching moment” for everyone involved. For example, in scene one, a child’s venture outside during a Spring shower leads to a problem best described as “Wetness.”
“What happened? You’re soaked! Did you run under a faucet? How could you get so wet so fast? This isn’t possible! Did you do it on purpose? Did you? Well, don’t just stand there. Get a towel. No, not THAT towel! Hurry up! You’re getting everything wet —including me! Give me the towel! Hold still! Stop squirming! You’re not helping, you know! STAND STILL!!”
I think you can see where that is headed. Let’s move on to scene two. A child is once again outside, a place of much misfortune. The child has encountered soil. As often happens in such a surrounding, the child becomes “Dirty.” Note the blank look on the parents’ faces. They did not see this coming even though “Dirty” should always be expected. Listen in.
“What happened? You’re dirty? You’re…(grasping for the precise word)…filthy! (That’s the precise word.) How did you get so dirty? Did you roll in the dirt on purpose? No one gets this dirty by accident! Look at you?! Look at you?! (We’re looking.) I can’t believe it. I CAN’T BELIEVE IT! (We can believe it.) Where is a towel when I need one? Did you move it? I always have one here, just in case! Did you move it?! YOU DID?!”
I think you can see where this is headed. Obviously, towels are an important element to being an effective parent. So, moving on to the third and final scene. I know you want more scenes purely as a learning opportunity. There is nothing in your background to prepare you for this. But the article is running long.
Look at the expression on the parents’ faces this time. That is a frozen smile if there ever was one. They are putting on a false front in order to prepare themselves for a difficult situation for every parent: “Homework.”
“Do you have homework? Of course, you do. Where is it? Did you lose it?! Let’s see it! Is that all of it?! It can’t be ALL of it! I talked to your teacher early in the year! YOU WILL ALWAYS HAVE HOMEWORK! What?! THAT MUCH?!! Are they joking?! No, I know they’re not joking! Did you do any of it earlier? NO?!! Why not?! Never mind, we’ll talk about that later! Do you have any books?! What? You have to do how much on line?! All of it? Are they joking?! Do you have Math? A quiz on what? The American System of Banking?! Is this because of that “Hamilton” musical on Broadway? What else do you have? An essay?! A !@#$%^& essay?!! ARE THEY JOKING?!”
I think you can see where that is headed. Obviously, there are many other early parenting situations we could observe. Merely to contrast your fine parents (see above) with, eh, another type of parents (also see above) who employ “shoulds” and “coulds” when necessary. Always in moderation, of course. I may return in a future article to touch upon later child raising concerns such as: the first day of school, preparing for a babysitter, and ultimately, Mom and Dad taking a vacation —by themselves.