As a kid I always left my toys in bed, and spread whatever didn’t fit there on the floor. I loved my toys, and spent hours gawking at them, maybe picking them up from time to time and placing them in different locations. My parents weren’t all too fond of my obsession with toys, especially when I left them on the bed. And the floor.
My mother would yell at me for spreading my Lego blocks in bed, as it triggered unimaginable pain when she accidentally rolled onto them.
Spreading them out on the floor was just as deadly, as stepping on one would paralyze the feet of any unsuspecting Mom or Dad.
And since I was a kid, they didn’t say anything because I was too young to understand why spreading my toys out like that was bad.
Instead, they beat the living crap out of me, chappal style. Those intense workout sessions really allowed me to understand what I was doing wrong. Now anytime I drop something on the floor, my first instinct is to duck. My mind has been trained to avoid flying chappals from every conceivable trajectory.
As I grew older, lectures were incorporated into the usual chappal flinging sessions, and both my parents would start their presentation of what I’ve done wrong as follows, “You know Ashwin, when I was your age, I never behaved like blah-blah. You have so many blah-blahs to play with, the only time I got blah-blahs was on my birthdays, I kept all my blah-blahs safe, you are such an ungrateful piece of blah…”
And I’d wonder why all those toys of mine were so precious to them. I’d at least play with from time to time, whereas the only time my parents interacted with my toys was when they “accidentally” stepped on them. I clearly respected them more.
I’d give them my feedback, as mentioned above, and they’d quickly move onto the chappal flinging session. My parents always threw things away or at me, while I took good care of my toys.
But more than anything, it’s the lecture sessions that put me off, especially the introductory portion.
When You Were My Age?
When you were my age, you were just like me. You had toys, maybe not as many as I did, but you did have them and I’m pretty sure you behaved just like I did.
And who’s idea was it to buy me all those toys? I don’t remember asking for tho- okay I did ask for them, but I wasn’t the one with the ATM card.
Its your fault! Forgive me Father for I have not sinned!
When I was your age, I didn’t waste my time like you do on your smartphones, tablets and laptops!
True, but you would have if you were a teenager living in the 21st century.
Especially if you had access to this mysterious thing called the internet. You’d have spent as much time surfing across pointless websites as we do today, but since you didn’t grow up with a tiny cardboard shaped device that gives you access to a vast library of knowledge, information and cat videos, you can’t judge us for behaving the way we do.
Smartphone addiction is real. But thats a topic for another article, and the point I really want to address in this article is:
What Parents Fail To Notice
We forget what its like to be naïve.
We forget what its like to want something bad enough to throw a tantrum, because by the time we turn into responsible adults, we’ve conditioned ourselves to behave.
We forgot what its like to get angry enough to scream like a banshee. Everyone except me.
So when your son/daughter starts acting out, it irritates you, and you justify the irritation by putting your past self as an example.
What you fail to notice is those memories of the past has been tampered with. You can’t imagine throwing a tantrum out in public, because of the shame that would invite; and you believe your younger self was aware of what you are aware of now.
I hope I’ve confused you enough with that tongue-twisting logic-twister.
In Simple Terms
Your experiences have conditioned you to think in a way to avoid pain, both physically and mentally. Children don’t have that experience, nor do they have the strength of character to channel their emotions along the right trajectories, which is why they act out.
So you think to yourself, “Why doesn’t he see this?”
Its because they simply CAN’T. Why?
Read the previous paragraph, and pay attention to it this time.
What Makes This Difficult to Understand
That’s easy to understand on paper, but difficult to put into practice. We automatically default to the “whence thy were thou age, thy weren’t a twat.” *sips tea*
Memories aren’t solid. They keep shifting and merging with each other, giving us a deeply profound sense of longing every time we look back at our past. We think we remember our past, but what we recollect is an entirely different group of scenes dripping with onion laced nostalgia.
You might be thinking, “Sure, I was naughty, but not that naughty.” And that is exactly what your kids are thinking.
Teenage Daughter Scenario
Say your teenage daughter gets mad at you for not letting her go out for a movie with her friends.
You start lecturing her about how hard life was for you, and how your parents wouldn’t even let you go out alone to buy groceries because they were worried someone would drag you into an alley and force you to commit some indecent acts.
Like forcing you to hand over the groceries you just bought from the store. Oh the horror.
Also, you make it a point to mention how well behaved you were when you were your daughter’s age, and only went out shopping with a family member.
How do you think she will take it? Will she want to continue having a dialogue with you or will she just go out alone to buy some groceries in an act of rebellion?
If I Were-
Stop saying that.
Its not like we can’t understand your intention, but its when you use that statement, it sounds very condescending. Alright, we screw up from time to time but that only goes to show we are human.
And pushing us down while trying to lift yourself up is egotistic. Just tell us where we screwed up, how we can rectify it, and be done with it. If we can screw things up, then we can also patch them up; maybe not entirely but we will try.
And we will only try if you offer us a hand instead of using that hand to pat yourself on the back while you kick us into the dirt.
You Want To Get Your Message Across?
Calmly explain it to us.
You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to grab our attention that way. If you are calm and collected in your demeanour, it will put us at ease and allows us to open up and devote complete attention to you.
If you default to raising your voice and lashing out at us, then don’t be surprised when we put our guard up and deflect everything you say.
We don’t go looking for trouble, but we desire to quench our thirst for curiosity and often end up doing things that land us into troublesome situations. Hurting us when we screw up only hurts us more.
Failing to achieve something, and punishing us for failing, without even knowing what we were trying to achieve, will program us to never try new things. It will dampen our resolve, and strip us of our joys.
It is Difficult
Juggling a job, responsibilities at home and raising kids is very stressful. Its when you are completely exhausted that you have to deal with your kid’s shenanigans.
But keep this in mind, the things you tell your kids out of anger will stay with them. They will never forget it, and might even resent you for it, so choose your words carefully.