It Takes the Entire Village to Raise Other People’s Children…But Not Mine

by Enitan Doherty-Mason

Child rearing is such a tricky thing. Giving advice or feedback has the potential to be even more treacherous. Giving advice or feedback can resemble walking in a field of landmines especially in these times of child worship and “educated parents”. It appears that common sense seems to drastically drop in some people as their academic experiences grow. I really don’t know why this is so, so I won’t GO THERE …until another time. (Don’t quote me if you plan on keeping your “socially” correct friends.)

It seems so long ago that social skills were considered quite valuable and things to be nurtured at home by parents and relatives before children were set free into the larger often times less caring world. These days our children no longer play, work or relate well with others and we wonder why. Is it because our concern now seem to have turned to higher things such as the labels on their clothing, their level of “feeling good” and our personal “image” as “Feel Good American Wanna Be Magazine” parent of the year? What image? I wonder. We are becoming so adept at milling out children with fragile egos who growing into whining adults who are averse to ANY KIND of criticism.

Dear friends, get a cup of coffee, tea, or some other kind of drink. Relax. Let’s get the facts straight. Living in America does not make you or your child exceptional. Access to more resources does not make you or your child a better person. Privilege and quality are not synonymous. Self esteem is strengthened by real accomplishments and independence. Now that we have clarified that part, feel free to take another sip of your beverage. We are off to a good start. People have called me many names like disciplinarian, firm and no-nonsense but most including those who called me names I dare not put in writing, seem to agree that I do love children. I have a hard time watching the possibility of a child going to waste. I struggle with all that “powder puff stuff” that we erroneously call self esteem building and the possibility of that child that someone won’t curb today becoming my or your horrific neighbor someday. I like people and I’d rather not have a neighbor I have to duck into cars, buildings or police stations to avoid.

Some parents wonder why more people seem to tolerate their young and not so young children less and less although these children have grown accustomed to waiting on the alter their parents have placed them on anticipating that others will worship them and kowtow. S-O-R-R-Y!!! The world is not all made up of child worshippers and I for one am a CHILD ADVOCATE, not a child worshipper. While I am not in support of domineering, tyrannical and abusive parenting styles, I firmly believe in preparing children for the world they live in with the hopes that they will make it a better place for all. I do not condone whining, nor do I condone socially handicapping children and young adults. To cut to the chase, I hope to provide a list, albeit an incomplete list of tips to help make for a socially healthy child and ultimately a socially healthy adult. I am sure that you, the reader, have more to add…if not for your child, definitely for someone else’s.

A List for The Young and Not So Young on Becoming Better Adults

1. SPEAK!!! It is respectful and still in vogue to extend a clear, audible and appropriate greeting to people when you enter a room or social space where there is a person or people. These people may actually smile back at you! It is your choice whether to extend that greeting to household pets and plants.

2. BE HELPFUL! Do not sit staring at others while they work. Your stares will not help the work get done any faster. Ignoring people working around you won’t make the work vanish either. Offer to help and take your cue from the response given. A helping hand is reflective of a giving heart and can sometimes also help you avoid some tricky situations.

3. RESPOND when you are spoken to. Snapping, sneering, displaying a bad attitude, bad language and making funny inaudible sounds do not count as a response. Don’t leave others guessing whether there is something wrong with you that requires great pity, empathy or a doctor.

4. BE TACTFUL even when the adult around you aren’t. When an adult asks you an inappropriate question or attempts to engage you in inappropriate conversation, try a change of topic, a smile or ask to be excused. It’s better to adopt the “I’ll be right back” rule than to be rude. Rudeness will not cast you in a better light. Even trying adults know when they’ve gone too far.

5. BE AVAILABLE when you are in a social group. Stay of the phone and computers while at a gathering. If you have a technology addiction, ask to be excused and engage your technology habit elsewhere. Someone was kind enough to have invited you. Be polite enough to make your person available.

6. BE SELECTIVE about the conversations you invite yourself into. Wait for the adults/ people engaged in conversation to invite you in even if the ideas expressed do not seem altogether sound to you. Your opinion is not always sought. Soon enough, perhaps in another forum, you will have a chance to express your opinion.

7. BE SENSITIVE to how others re-act to you. When a group suddenly becomes silent when you interject, it means that your interjection is inappropriate. They do not necessarily dislike you. They are offering you an opportunity to take your leave or to extricate yourself from a conversation that does not concern you.

8. DRESS APPROPRIATELY for occasions. While dressing should be reflective of your personal style and fashion sense, good sense is required when choosing clothes for various occasions. Better to be overly conservative in some social gatherings than to win the award for fool of the day. Give someone else a chance to look foolish.

9. BE KIND when your parents or other adults falter, are indiscreet or cause themselves embarrassment. It’s not the time for laughter or finger pointing. Take the lesson from it so you don’t fall into the same situation.

10. RELAX (don’t relapse) and enjoy yourself around others. When you are relaxed you may find that others relax and you really get a chance to know some people better. Believe it or not most adults were once young people too.

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Rosie December 2, 2008 - 6:37 pm

I love this piece. And I agree with every single one of them. I really have a hard time stomaching parents that insist on not stiffling their children’s creativity or individuality. For where? They have their entire life to be individuals or creative. But until they turn 18, their ass is yours! Shikena!

Bolanle Shote December 1, 2008 - 10:39 pm

Thanks for this o. And please include: teach your children to speak their own native tongue. Many of us in “the diaspora” seem to believe that it shows our social superiority when our children speak only English and can be mistaken for 3rd or 4th generation immigrants who have lost all contact with home…

Yetunde December 1, 2008 - 6:32 pm

Thanks alot for this list Mrs Doherty-Mason. These are things that I tell my young adults over and over agian. I have printed this article for teaching/discussion at our family time tonight.


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