Our emphasis should be on comforting while teaching, rather than shielding or protecting.
So wrote the infamous Austin, Texas author Kinky Friedman. At the time, I found the quote concerning having memories of the happiest childhood ever. However, this quote from some 20 years ago became the justification for my parenting shortcomings with my now 18 and 7-year-old children.
What is a happy childhood..?
According to dictionary.com the word “happy,” when used in this context, means contentment or joy. While I like the later, I truly dislike the former.
Contentment sounds horrible to me. I care very little about the things I am content with… my toothpaste, the brand of toilet paper, maybe all bathroom products in general. But, I have little to no contentment with anything that stimulates or excites me. And, I think that is a very good thing.
My kids are perfect. Just like yours only better. They are the smartest and best-looking kids on the planet. I am sure their contributions to society will be unequaled and those who find fault in them I give no credence.
Are they enjoying a happy childhood..? They have joy. I mean their dad is me for gosh sakes, but I hope they will never be content, and I won’t let them be.
Worst dad ever…
So according to Kinky, we should not provide joy or breed contentment. I like it..! The pressure is off.
Seriously though, is there something to learn here..? As parents, we have to allow or children to feel defeat, sorrow, sadness, anxiety, nervousness and pain. It is through these mild traumas where there is lifelong growth. Like a flu shot, these feelings program the mind to do what it takes not to feel these emotions and strive for the opposite.
Kinky’s happy children as he observed, maybe were sheltered from this growth. In the age of every kid getting a trophy, grading on the curve, and bumpers in the bowling lane gutters, perhaps as parents we are doing our children a disservice.
Our emphasis should be on comforting while teaching, rather than shielding or protecting. Like the anti-virus we so readily give our kids, a good dose of failure and reality here and there might be the best thing even if it ain’t easy.
Photo: Flickr/ Jonathan Cohen