Wednesday, July 6, 2011

LZ Granderson Needs a Hug. He's Having a Tantrum.

Take a look at this article: Permissive parents: Curb your brats, by LZ Granderson (LZG). And watch the video that goes along with it.


I have already written about the misuse of the "permissive parents" label in The Myth Of Permissive Parents and as part of my six-part series on Lori Gottlieb's article in the Atlantic. As for the rest of the article...

After subtly advocating for corporal punishment in schools, LZG says the following two things:
Spanking is not a cure, and should not be the first resort, but I don't think it should automatically be taken off the table when dealing with small kids.

A young child slapping his or her parent's hand away in defiance is not cute, it's disrespectful.
Why does this not seem like a serious logical problem? If hitting is not cute, then let's all try to stop, ok? Adults, you go first. The kids will be right behind you.

LZG wraps up with this timeless classic, a theory on why he and many others seem to dislike (or even hate) children:
The ugly truth is it's the spineless parents who parade their undisciplined children around like royalty that make people dislike kids.
I think the truth is even uglier: It's the parents who expect their children to behave perfectly all the time who raise people like Granderson, who apparently can't stand children. I think that deep down inside any adult who hates children must be a child who was raised to hate himself.

If he didn't deserve love as a child when he "misbehaved," then no child does. You can hardly blame him for feeling this way. It is part of a cycle that leads to more and more misunderstanding of how children should be and how we should force them to behave.

Try to remember what it felt like to be a child. To be small in a big world. To be powerless to take care of even your most basic needs. To face judgment and criticism from strangers and loved ones alike. To be punished for either expressing discontent to be somewhere (Stop crying, you're making a scene!) OR for trying to make the best of it by having fun (Calm down, you're making a scene!). To always be expected to enthusiastically (but politely) reply How high? every time an adult says Jump!

You just wanted to be loved. You deserved to be loved, to be respected, to have your needs met. But you were told you needed to be punished. You needed to mind your manners.

The only way to break the cycle is to love children. All children. Even the ones who are crying all the way through a ten-hour plane ride. To stop expecting perfection from children and parents alike.

We can celebrate a child having fun in public (as long as he isn't hurting anyone or anything), and the parents who allow him to do so. We can offer a smile to a family in crisis, rather than a scowl fed by homicidal thoughts (LZG: we want to kill you for letting your brat ruin our dinner).

We can stop calling children brats, or cute little creatures, and start recognizing that they are fully human, just like us. After all, we were them not long ago. When they are upset, they need something, and it's not a smack or "the look" of disgust and disapproval. It's love. It's a hug. It's help figuring out why they are upset and how we can fix it.

More punishment and more segregation of children from the adult world are the worst things that could happen to our society. If anything will solve the problem of a widespread hatred of children, it's more tolerance, more understanding, more acceptance of the nature of children and the difficulties of childhood.

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I do agree with one aspect of LZG's article. If my kids are upset and clearly disturbing the peace in what would otherwise be a quiet place, I will remove my them when possible. But not as punishment, only to find some space for us to figure out what the problem is, and to prevent further disturbance.