Kim Hudson: Are we putting kids on pedestals?

Last week I wrote about what I call the epidemic of blatant disrespect in our society today. I was so relieved to hear from many of you that you feel the same way.

I’d like to state for the record that I am in no way an expert or a perfect parent. My children are in no way perfect either. But I’d like to continue the conversation of what is going on in our society today and how we, maybe unknowingly, are contributing to this epidemic.

Our children are special, aren’t they? To us, their parents, they can be the most special things on the planet. And my generation has perfected the art of spotlighting their specialness. Our phones allow us to take pictures and videos and post them for all the world to see with just the click of a button. We brag about our children’s accomplishments – admit it, I know I have too – and share our kids’ everyday occurrences like they’ve just won the Nobel Peace Prize.

We’ve put our kids on a pedestal and expect everyone else to do so too. The problem is my child isn’t that special to you. And yours isn’t that special to me. But we are giving our kids the message that they are. We are, I think, idolizing our children and setting them up for great failure in the future.

I am just as guilty as the next person of putting my children first and I absolutely do it because I love them. But maybe it’s time we do a little more analysis of the situation. How many times do you let your child’s schedule dictate your own?

How many weekends are spent traveling for tournaments or competitions? Are your children appreciative of all you do for them – or is it just expected? When was the last time your child said thank you – to you – for something you did for them?

Recently I overheard a daughter say to her mother, “Thank you so much for bringing me here. I had a great time.” I had to turn around and see for myself what she was thanking her mother for. The little girl looked to be about 7 or 8 and she was holding an ice cream cone and just walking with her mom. It made me think of all the times you hear kids demanding or expecting something else, something more.

We have become such a me-me-me society. It makes me wonder why we are spotlighting our children so much. Could it be more about showing the world what a great parent I am? Could it be to make ourselves look good? We aren’t posting the bad stuff, are we?

With that in mind, if our motivation is for our own validation that we are doing things right as parents, then we haven’t even considered the impact this is having on our kids. And maybe we haven’t considered the impact a child centered society is having on us.

When we spotlight or idolize our children we raise them up to a standard that is almost impossible to attain. We put enormous amounts of pressure on them. And we teach them that they have every right to ask for and even expect more — more things, more time, more privileges, more attention, more specialness. This plays out in very negative ways in the classroom and in the world at large.

When people feel special or entitled, they begin to act a different way. They no longer look out for others, their focus becomes entirely on themselves. Thus, we have an epidemic of disregard and disrespect for others.

It is hard to look within ourselves and find that we might be contributing to the problem. It’s easy to blame others for their poor parenting skills. But maybe it’s time to look at what we are doing individually and honestly assess the impact it is having.

Contact Kim Hudson at tkhudson@comcast.net.

 

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