A Rant Against "I Expect Nothing of My Children that I Don't of Myself"
Soap box for the day:
In many circles and blogs, I hear the idea that we shouldn't give our children standards and expectations that we don't follow ourselves.
One blogger (who got lots of support in the comments) went so far as to say they didn't feel comfortable doing anything that they wouldn't approve their children of doing.
Okay, I get the concept, and in theory, if you stand at a great distance, squinting your eyes, it's a very nice-looking idea.
Yet I can't take people who say these things seriously, because the premise is so completely flawed.
On a very basic level, consider these examples:
- I will not let my nine-year-old wear make-up or get her ears pierced. Does that mean that as an adult woman, I should take out my earrings and remove all make-up?
- No way would I allow my twelve-year-old to get behind the wheel of a car. I expect her not to drive. Yet I drive. Every day. Dang. I'd better stop that.
- When my son was six, I expected him to stay away from the hot stove. Yet that's where I made him dinner. I also used sharp knives, but no way would I let him use them. I'm such a hypocrite.
- I also had to keep dangerous chemicals out of my children's reach, things that are perfectly acceptable (and sometimes necessary) for adults to use. Except that's a double standard. I guess I'll have to figure out another way to clear the drain.
- Some medications that are good and useful for adults (even something as simple as aspirin) can be harmful for a child. Yet, by the "same standard" argument, I shouldn't take aspirin if I refuse to let my children take it.
And here's the one I really giggle at:
Virtually all of the people I hear insisting that they maintain the same standards as their children are married and have children.
I'm betting they live a very different standard for physical contact in their bedrooms than they expect of their children! (Or else, how else would those children be here?!)
Obviously, I have issues with the "same standard" idea. In general, I agree with it, sure. But in big, sweeping generalities. As in the sense of, "Be honest," and "Obey the law," and, "Choose media that uplifts."
It's that last one (media) I want to mention in particular. I think that various types of media can be appropriate for one person at one age and totally inappropriate at another age.
For example, I would have traumatized my children if, at the age of four, they'd heard me read Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning to them. At that age, they were still dealing with scary things like monsters under the bed; they didn't yet have the emotional and mental maturity to face real-life monsters like Hitler and the Holocaust.
But is that a book we should all avoid, just because it's not appropriate for a small child? No way. I have teenagers now, and I'd love them to read it. They're at a place where we can sit down as parent and child and discuss issues and ideas, and they are mature enough to grasp it.
I can think of dozens of similar examples of books, movies, and more, things I want to share with my children when the time is right.
And yes, I do partake of media (and other things!) that they aren't yet allowed to.
Sure, some books and movies no one should be seeing.
But some are of great worth . . . even if they aren't for small children.
Is that a double standard? Maybe by some definitions. Not by mine.
Every time I hear people go off about how they ask nothing of their child that they don't ask of themselves, I can't help but laugh. They can't possibly mean that, not if they looked at the idea in bright light.