. . . but yet we often treat them as if they were some trendy accessory.
So this post was really the springboard for the whole series on how we view kids as a society. It came out of a conversation that I had a few days ago on my friend Raina’s status about modamily and started with just this post but as I was outlining I realized I had thoughts and materials for a whole series of posts. Shout out to her for being awesome. Anyways, I don’t want to get too distracted, so let’s get down to business. (Side note: can anyone write or say “let’s get down to business” without thinking of Mulan? Now I’m really side tracking myself aren’t I? Haha)
I’ve rewritten this intro several times now because I don’t want it to sound harsh but I also don’t want to sugar coat things. But I think many people have children because of what it will give them – happiness or love or a status symbol or because it’s what they are supposed to do or want to do or because they just got pregnant or fill-in-the-blank. Mostly decisions to have kids are made involving us and our feelings – and that’s not necessarily wrong or evil – I will admit to having kids because I wanted them -but I think it trickles down into the attitudes we have about kids.
Because I think we can very easily objectify kids. And turn them into nothing more than the latest thing to get, a now-I-have-it-all mentality instead of thinking about the gravity that you are bringing a human life into the world. A life.
But then we treat them like any special or important object we might buy. Because when children exist merely for our happiness, then they have to look and think and act a certain way, regardless of who they are as people. They’re treated as disposable – thrown away in abortion, abused and murdered after birth, adopted but then given back when they fail to fulfill our desires for what a child should be. Because again, we’ve made it all about us.
We should have a relationship with our children. An object doesn’t have feelings. You can take it out and use it and then put it away for a week and the object doesn’t care. It doesn’t have feelings. But children do have feelings. Think about it this way – everyone has that one friend who only calls you up when they want or need something and the rest of the time it’s like you don’t exist. How does that make you feel? Because it sure doesn’t make me feel good – it make me feel used. In the same way, children aren’t some shiny toy you can just put on a shelf and then take down and play with only on your terms and then put away. They need a real, living relationship with you – not a one sided relationship when it works for us as the parent.
Let me give you another example of that. A few days ago I was reading a magazine article and it suggested that to reward your kids for good behavior you should give them something they like, like 10 minutes of your undivided attention. I was shocked at reading that. Our children are human beings and we should want to have a relationship with them where we want to give them our undivided attention. Would you stay friends with someone for very long if they never gave you their undivided attention or they only gave it to you when you did the things they wanted you too? Probably not, because you would feel like they didn’t want to be around you if you weren’t important enough to warrant their attention. Why do you think our kids would feel any different? Most people give their cell phone more undivided attention than they do their children.
I think the biggest way we treat children as accessories is that we expect that we can treat them however we want and they will always be there for us, the same way that we do with objects. I mean, maybe we treat them “good enough” so they don’t break, but the difference is that you can replace an object you break, but you can’t replace a kid. As the saying goes, they broke the mold with that one.
I hope I’ve explained myself well. I just feel like we’ve reduced children down to being something we show off rather than someone we love. And maybe I am guilty of this sometimes too, but I try very hard not to be. I try very much to have a two-sided relationship with my son. And to recognize his human-ness. I’m still working on how to explain myself in this area but I hope you get the idea.
Tomorrow I’m going to be talking about how we should treat our children with basic human respect.