This post about the mom whose kids “are not the center of [her] world” has been shared more times than I can count on my Facebook news feed from various different sources. I really didn’t want to address it. I wanted to pretend it just didn’t exist. A friend of mine asked me for my take on it. Admittedly, I was reluctant – yet here we are.
Here’s how I would like to respond to the article. (Before you read on, I suggest you read the post in the link above.)
My daughter is the center of my world. That does not mean that she gets her way all the time, or that I will raise her with a sense of entitlement. She will learn about failure, and she will feel heartbreak; these are things that I cannot prevent, nor would I want to. They’re part of the human experience and it’s important that we know failure and heartbreak so that we can grow as people. It doesn’t do your children any good to shelter and coddle them. That’s one thing that we agree on. My daughter is the center of my world, though; she’s the most important person in my life. This is my most important role.
If your boys aren’t the center of your world, that’s fine. I suppose we simply have different priorities on what is most important in life, and that’s okay. I don’t think that saying children are the center of your world means that you cater to their every whim. It certainly doesn’t mean that for me. I think it’s also rather arrogant to say that you love them enough to not allow them to be the center of everything, implying that those of us who do consider our children to be at the center of our worlds don’t love our children as much as you do.
I’m sorry if you feel that the society we’re growing up in means that your boys can’t “just be boys.” Let’s be honest, though, the phrase “let boys be boys” is a pretty antiquated expression. Boys can be whatever they want to be. Boys can be rough and energetic and loud, or they can be quiet and gentle and contemplative, or anything in between. Girls, too. There is no specific personality trait that you can attribute to all little boys or all little girls. Every child is unique and has his or her own personality and interests.
I really hate the idea that boys – or girls – are supposed to act a certain way.
I think we need to be clear on what bullying is It is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively impose domination over others. Bullying isn’t just physical. While you may have been called names and were picked on in school and made it out without any psychological scars, not everyone does. Not everyone handles those situations the same way you did. You have no idea what another person’s mental state is like. Perhaps instead of telling our children to just “suck it up,” maybe we should instead focus more on teaching our children to be respectful of others.
And, please, do not downplay the idea of suicide. It is a very real problem and comes from depression – you know, an actual medical condition that can be observed and diagnosed. It’s downright disrespectful to those who have honestly struggled to try and downplay the fact that there are teenagers out where who have contemplated – or attempted to commit suicide – after being consistently picked on and bullied.
I consider myself a “modern parent.” Yes, I do cater to my daughter’s every need right now because she’s still so young and she can’t quite communicate what she wants and she doesn’t fully understand why I do or don’t do something just yet. She’s not old enough to comprehend the situation. Will it be like this throughout her childhood? Absolutely not, but until she’s old enough to understand why I’m not going to her right away or old enough to take care of herself a little more, I’m going to continue to go to her when she cries, to let her know that I’m here every time she needs me.
She’ll grow out of it.
I hope that she will know failure and success, heartache and joy, criticism and praise, because even though I want her to have all good things, she will be able to learn and grow from the bad. I hope I will raise her to be independent and strong, while also knowing that when she needs me most, I will always be here to comfort and guide her and be her strength if that’s what she needs. She will make mistakes, and that’s okay. She will be raised to use “please” and “thank you” and to treat everyone she meets with utmost respect, because that’s how I was raised.
Our job as parents is to do the best we can and to raise the best people we can raise. If you feel you’re doing your part, that’s wonderful – but please don’t look down on those of us who view parenting differently.