040: What Happens When We Treat Our Kids Too Preciously – A Your Child Explained Episode

Tuesday’s guest – cartoonist and author Emily Flake – and I had a great conversation (although, full of swears and subject matter totally inappropriate for work or children – please take note 🙂 about modern parenting, but even with nearly an hour to talk we didn’t cover everything I wanted to cover.

Which leads to today’s Your Child Explained, episodes in which we are always looking right into the brains of our kids and figuring out what makes them tick. In her book, Mama Tried: Dispatches From The Seamy Underbelly of Modern Parenting, Emily shares that her older sister got pregnant and had a baby at age 17 – when Emily herself was just 13. The difference in how these two sisters were treated by the people around them while pregnant can’t be understated; Emily’s sister got a tremendously judgy and shaming vibe at 17, whereas Emily heard all about the “wonderful journey” that she and her husband were now on, while she was pregnant at age 34.

It really got me to thinking about what it means for our kids when we treat them too preciously – when we take care of their every need and want long after they’re too small to take care of themselves. Kids treated as if they’ll break at any moment come to believe that the world exists for their comfort and enjoyment only. This is dangerous, for the child and for our society.

The date this episode airs happens to be Thanksgiving Day of 2015, and it is in the spirit that I ask the question: what’s the opposite of believing that the world exists for your comfort and enjoyment? I think the answer is believing that we exist to serve – that serving in some way creates a feedback loop that makes us happy and filled with gratitude…

It’s a shift that paradoxically gives us the comfort and enjoyment we seek.

And it’s our responsibility to start teaching our kids early to serve others – for their own comfort and enjoyment.

How do we do that when they’re small? Well, letting them contribute to your family through housework and cooking, helping them understand that giving of themselves and their abilities is what will bring them the most comfort and enjoyment – that seems like a pretty good start to me.

Happy Thanksgiving, I hope you’re having the kind of Thanksgiving that is just perfect for you and I hope you know how grateful I am that you are listening to me today!