Things we tell our children

Recently, a friend (whom we love dearly) posted an article on child-raising called 'The Secret Cost of Shame' .  The authors of the article suggest that many parents are creating thick ridges of emotional scar tissue in their children by using words like 'naughty' or using 'moralizing' statements such as 'Good little children don't act that way'.  Or my favorite example: 

A three-year-old who defies her mother by refusing to pack up her toys - after being told to do so repeatedly - may be attempting to forge a separate and distinct self-identity.

OK. But the new self-identity is headed for a sore butt. 

Now, I remember from the parenting manual you get when you take the baby home from the hospital that there are lines you don't cross. It's inappropriate, for example, to scream 'OH MY GOD YOU GOT IT WRONG, YOU LITTLE SATAN MONKEY' in the grocery store when your child fetches the 1% milk instead of the 2% you had clearly  asked for. What? You didn't get a manual? You have to ask before you leave, you know. They don't hand them out, otherwise. 

But these authors would be horrified if they heard some of the age-based, moralizing, competency-expectations that are uttered in our house. No doubt they would want to lead me through a firm-but-non-shaming conversation.

Here are a few things we've told our kids: 

  • I didn't call you 'turtle.' I called you 'turd-le.' As in: 'a small turd.'  
  • You can pay the electric bill, or you can pick the dog crap up from the yard. Your choice.
  • No, I won't buy you a horse. 
  • It's slightly more awkward to make fun of  you when you're in the room. 
  • Moving cinderblocks builds character.  
  • One of you is our favorite. You have to guess.
  • No, I won't buy you a horse. 
  • Popcorn comes from chicken poop. You can ask your teacher
  • We can't miss you 'til you leave. 
  • We had them remove the monkey tail before we took you home from the hospital. The doctor said the scar should be 'hardly noticeable' 
  • It's lucky to eat the pig skin with a hair still in it.  
  • I didn't ask who started it. I'm telling you how it will end. 
  • No, I won't buy you a horse. 
  • That's a great story. You should save that story up. Never tell it again. Wait until you have children of your own. Then pass it on.  
  • Yes. I will buy you a horse. ... HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. That was a good one. Did you see what I just did there? No, I will not buy you a horse. 
  • Stacking firewood is old-timey fun. It is now mandatory fun time.  

As parents, it's our responsibility to make sure that they have really good stories to tell when they get to therapy. 



Right now, we've got another two chords worth of stories waiting for in the back yard.