Friday, February 13, 2009

Ignore Your Children

When I was a child, I was ignored. Not neglected. Ignored.

Lest you think "Poor thing" let me assure you, it was the best thing my parents could have done for me. By ignoring me, I was free to do my own thing without adults hovering neurotically over me, making sure everything in my life was perfect and meaningful moment to moment.

One of the problems in a majority of American children today is that they have never experienced the benefits and blessings of being ignored: therefore, they don't know that being ignored is preferable to being the center of attention.

When children are constantly the center of attention in their families from day one, they learn that being in that center is essential to their well-being. They can't tolerate being ignored. Therefore, they clamor for attention by being boisterous, interrupting conversations, pouting, screaming, kicking and the like. Then the adult hovers over them asking, "Is everything all right?"

When I was growing up, and when I raised my girls, children weren't given a lot of attention, and they weren't expected to attract attention to themselves. That's liberating to a child, no matter what many of today's parents might think. Parents that don't allow their children the benefits of being ignored have allowed themselves to be victimized by psychobabble that tells them they must do all they can for their children so the kids don't suffer psychological distress.

The real harm comes when the child gets too much attention. The distress comes when the kids suddenly discover they aren't the center of attention in the real world. The harm comes to the parent who never has time for herself/himself. No reading a book. No sitting quietly enjoying a cup of tea or coffee. No puttering alone in the garden contemplating God and nature. No taking a short power nap on the sofa. The distress comes when the parent realizes they've created a monster out of that precious baby and the kid grows up to be an incorrigible demanding teenager.

I thank my parents for letting me have the freedom to be alone, to know I don't need someone hovering over me fulfilling my every need every moment I'm awake, for letting me learn what it means to fail and still be able to function--and for all those years I pretended with my dolls. I don't know what my mother was doing when I was lost in my world of make-believe, but I know this. We were both better off.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a post and the timing is God! Last night was a train wreck but this post just spoke volumes. Thank you!