It takes a village to raise a child, as the old saying goes, from helping new parents out so they can get some much-needed rest to, perhaps, intervening when a child is about to do something they shouldn’t. Enter the Kar-Jenner family.
Kylie Jenner caught some criticism last month for “yelling” at her niece Dream. As the family sat around Jenner’s daughter’s birthday cake — apparently a $7,000 one, who does that? but that’s not the point — Dream reached a finger towards the cake’s edge, and Jenner told her repeatedly not to touch it.
Critics are spinning it a number of ways, from an example of Jenner’s privilege and pettiness to proof that the family treats Dream differently than the other kids because of tension with her parents, Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna. Many comments stress Jenner’s reaction was “over a cake,”emphasizing the perceived overreaction to something small.
But Jenner’s reprimands in the video seem pretty gentle and even-toned — some simple “nos” and a “don’t touch it.” To call that yelling is…a stretch, to say the least. It’s also more than a fair request. Young kids are notoriously messy, and no one wants their fingers in a cake that will be served to party guests. It’s gross. It would’ve been a crime against birthday parties and cakes for Jenner not to say something, and it’s likely that if she hadn’t, she’d be getting flack for that, too.
It’s also not a surprising scenario. With a table full of young kids, of course one of them tried to touch the cake and had to be stopped. For many of us, whether parents or aunts like Jenner, it’s practically a staple of birthday parties and a rite of passage.
We also don’t know what the extended family’s dynamics are when it comes to all their young children. For all we know, they very well may have an agreement about reprimanding each other’s kids — and at a minimum, Jenner is clearly comfortable doing so with Dream, which suggests this probably isn’t the first time she’s done it and it probably won’t be the last. She just might be careful to make sure it doesn’t end up filmed and posted online.
But perhaps even more bizarre than the way the incident has been analyzed and criticized is the insinuation that she shouldn’t have stopped her niece at all, that because it’s not her child, she has no place saying a word to her.
If this is the road we’re going down, our kids are going to suffer for it.
As parents, we cannot be there every moment of our kids’ lives. Even if we’re physically present, we can still miss moments like this, where our child is doing something they shouldn’t — not necessarily something awful or dangerous, but something we’d probably put a stop to ourselves if we saw it happen. Why should other adults, especially family, stay silent and just let these things happen? Our kids need to understand what is and is not acceptable, and those lessons can come from anyone. A birthday cake is pretty low-stakes, but it’s easy to imagine this with more serious situations. What happens if a child is hurt because only their parent can intervene?
Personally, when I trust my brother or one of my siblings-in-law with the care of my child, I’m trusting them to not only keep him safe but to be a stand-in for me and my husband. If they catch him in the midst of misbehaving — especially if I’m not there — I absolutely want them to stop him and correct him, and I know they feel the same. Whether we’re babysitting each other’s kids or one of us sees something while the parent is in another room, we understand, accept, and dare I say even appreciate the fact that our children won’t be allowed to run rampant, behaving in any way they want with no consequence.
Doling out harsh punishments would be overstepping, but simply telling a child no or correcting their behavior is absolutely fair game. I also want my son to understand the other adults in his life are also looking out for his best interests, whether that’s keeping him safe or helping mold him into the best person he can be.
People who are so bothered by Jenner’s involvement here should step back and ask themselves why, especially if they’re parents. The backlash seems to be centered in parents having authority and control over their children, as opposed to truly wanting them to learn something. Despite the way the incident has been spun, little Dream is lucky to have her aunt in her corner helping teach her right from wrong, even if it’s something simple like cake etiquette.
We should want our respective villages to step in like this. Our kids will only benefit from it.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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