Friday, 29 July 2011

Stupid Parents Make Stupid Kids

I understand that sometimes, in parenting, leaving out a detail or two for the benefit of your child's mental well-being is not only acceptable but also prudent. For example, my children firmly believe that babies just arrive, zygote-style but completely without cause, when you decide you want to procreate. That's all they need to know, and they're not yet mentally or emotionally equipped to deal with any deeper an explanation.

However, there are some things that parents tell their children that make me wonder how the heck they think their children are going to benefit from such misinformation. The following examples are some of those that I find most irksome:

Stupid Names for Body Parts.
Penis. Vagina. Testicles. Clitoris. Foreskin. Mons Pubis (betcha didn't know that one!).
These are not dirty words. Hearing kids say them doesn't sound dirty. Hearing you say them to your kids doesn't sound dirty. You know what does? Hearing a three-year-old use the term hang-down. That sounds bad. Don't teach your kids that word.  I admit that I, personally, am just more comfortable with clinical terms in any company or context (you don't want to hear me try to talk dirty--sounds more like a medical instruction manual), but, honestly, TEACH YOUR KIDS THE RIGHT WORDS! Please.

Telling Your Kids that TV is Real
I gave in on God and Santa Claus--I refuse to "protect my child's innocence" by trying to convince them that anything on television is real. I once heard a parent explaining to her child about how TV was like magic. How is that an easier explanation than "They take a video camera and film that guy pretending to be Major Bedhead and then they play that video"? And, might I add, if you start your kids looking critically at television and movies from a really young age, they will absolutely astound you with how smart they are by the time they're five or six.

The Dog/Fish/Cat Ran Away and/or Is Living With a Nice Family on a Farm Now
I have some personal experiences with this one that someday, if the therapy goes well, I may relate to you all. In the meantime, I'll just point out that one of the reasons child development professionals recommend that you get pets for your kids is that it's a great way for them to learn to deal with death. What isn't a great way is for them to learn that the death of an animal that Mommy and Daddy hated anyway makes them very uncomfortable and we should all just pretend it never happened and that pet never existed, and WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T EMOTE ABOUT IT.

Anyway... I'm just saying--let your kids say goodbye somehow, honour their beloved pet, process the loss, and learn that life goes on. Or else when you die, maybe they'll just bury you out back, get rid of all traces of your existence and tell your grandchildren you must have found another family you like better, but don't worry, they'll get a new grandma soon.
(Like I said, the therapy is a work in progress.)

Generally Any Lame-Ass Made Up Explanation
If you don't know something--like why the sun doesn't always set in the same place, or how fish survive the winter, or how crickets make that noise, or who invented cups--just say, "I don't know" and then help your kids find out. Teaching them how to conduct research and figure things out is going to be way more valuable to them in the long run than any other information you could impart anyway. In fact, even if your kids never ask these questions or if you already know the answers, teach them how to do it anyway. Teach them how to Google the population of the world, how to do an experiment to see if crackers or bread grow mould faster, and how to find the right person to ask why you can't run on the deck of the pool. Please, please, please teach your kids how to think and learn and not just how to remember what they're told. That's my sermon on that.

And that's my top four irksome stupid things parents tell their kids.
Thanks for reading!

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