Creative Child

Your Child Is Human Too

There’s an excerpt from my book, The Newbie’s Guide to Positive Parenting, that has been around the world. It is my most widely seen quote to date, and also happens to be the most controversial because people misunderstand it without its surrounding context.

 

Here is the quote: “So often, children are punished for being human. They are not allowed to have grumpy moods, bad days, disrespectful tones, or bad attitudes. Yet, we adults have them all the time. None of us are perfect. We must stop holding our children to a higher standard of perfection than we can attain ourselves.”

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Many parents understand the quote’s meaning, which is children aren’t perfect and that we often expect much better behavior and more self-control from our children than what even we, as grown-ups, are able to demonstrate. They have expressed wholehearted agreement and acknowledged that they, too, have been guilty of holding their children to a higher standard than they hold themselves to. Still, there are many others who have misunderstood it to mean that we shouldn’t hold children accountable for their behavior and that we should disregard all disrespect and bad attitudes, which obviously isn’t what I’m suggesting at all.

 

To give context to this quote, here is what I say in my book directly afterward: “Of course, I’m not saying to always “let them by with it” just because they’re human. Teach them better! Teach them it’s not okay to project a bad mood on those around you. Teach them how to handle frustration, anger, fear, sadness, and disappointment. Teach them that it’s not acceptable to be rude to people. Hold them to a high standard! But please, hold yourself to one, too. Don’t project your bad moods. Learn how to handle your frustration, anger, fear, sadness, or disappointment. Don’t be rude to them. We all need high standards, and do you know what else we all need? A little grace. You know better, but sometimes you have a bad day and say something that isn’t nice, or you slam a door, or you yell at your kids. We aren’t robots. Sometimes life is just plain hard, and we need a break, not a lecture. We need a hug, not a scornful look. We know we did wrong, but we’re having a hard time. We just need grace. The same goes for our children.”

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Here’s a good exercise. Listen to yourself and the other adults in the home today and notice whether anything you say or do would land you in trouble if you were the child. Did you ignore your toddler while he was talking to you? Did you yell at someone? Have you spoken with a tone of disrespect? Has your partner? Did you slam a door, roll your eyes, or huff at another request? It’s an eye opening exercise because we realize that most of us do at least one thing that we would scold our child for doing. We have reasons, of course. We are stressed because of work. We’re sleep-deprived because of the baby.

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