Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Know What You Think, Say, and Do

Much to my siblings' irritation, I take a rather authoritative roll with the kinfauna. I make them clean their plates when they requested a specific dish. I put them to bed early (note, not "on time," but "early"). If they talk back? Oh, they going down. 

I flatter myself that I possess keener memories of childhood than many adults, and know about kiddie wants vs. needs. They like being read a book. They like knowing someone else is in charge, and it's not on them. And they are really, really happy when they are well-rested. 
Sleep. It's a beautiful thing.
Plus, they aren't going to be adorable munchkins forever, and they have to know what acceptable behavior is. Most of us grow out of cute. It won't be a pass. 

So while some may view my tack as being "cruel and unusual," the loving feedback I get from my charges belie that judgement. 

Ergo, I had to root for 's "What Black Moms Know." 
I feel sorry for the others. You know those mothers: the highly informed, professionally accomplished — usually white — women who, judging by the mommy blog fodder, daytime TV, and new parenting guides lining store shelves, are apparently panicking all day, every day, over modern child rearing and everything that comes with it. They feel compelled to praise their kids, but fret the dosage. They worry about pesticides; this year’s best birthday-party theme; enrichment summer camps; preparing Johnnie for college admissions in 2025 (it’s never too early); and, of course, the biggie — keeping their kids happy.
Most adults know that happiness, unlike, say, integrity or self-reliance, is elusive and often fleeting. Still, so-called experts have convinced these mothers that their job is to plant joy into their children’s small bodies. Not surprisingly, this overabundance of advice has turned mothering into a hot mess of guilt, confusion and hard labor.
Thankfully, I am a black mom. Like many of my fellow sisters, I don’t have time for all that foolishness. Our charge is to raise — notice I did not say “parent” — our children in a way that prepares them for a world that, at best, may well overlook their awesomeness and, at worst, may seek to destroy it.
The Superparents don't seem to realize that obsessing over toddlers' academic futures and their happiness simultaneously is an oxymoron. B'H, I was the youngest, meaning I had a broken-in mommy. My middling elementary school report cards left her unfazed, since she figured I would blossom in high school, like Luke did. I did ace those math Regents on my own steam.

Frank Bruni observes this contradiction in "Push, Don't Crush, the Students":
In addition to whatever overt pressure students feel to succeed, that culture is intensified by something more insidious: a kind of doublespeak from parents and administrators. They often use all the right language about wanting students to be happy, healthy and resilient — a veritable “script,” said Madeline Levine, a Bay Area psychologist who treats depressed, anxious and suicidal tech-industry executives, workers and their children.
“They say, ‘All I care about is that you’re happy,’ and then the kid walks in the door and the first question is, ‘How did you do on the math test?’ ” Ms. Levine said. “The giveaways are so unbelievably clear.”
Denise Pope, an education expert at Stanford, calls this gulf between what people say and what they mean “the hidden message of parenting.”
Doublespeak is not a unique phenomenon. As frum Jews, we know it lies beneath. Singles get clobbered with it a lot. "Marriages are bashert," but "you're doing something wrong." It can't be both.

I try to be careful with the kinfauna that I don't ever sound hypocritical. They tune you out when you need them to listen, then they pay a disturbing amount of attention when you would prefer they didn't hear that. 

Being religious, in belief, word, and action, requires a lot of self-awareness.      


Anonymous said...

Great blog! Loved this post.

Princess Lea said...

How I blush.