The Wooden Spoon

 

 

I’m taking a bit of a detour on this one. I came across a a blog post on social media the other day. Here is the link if you are interested. http://addins.kwwl.com/blogs/anchormom/2015/04/the-entitlement-generation To summarize, it railed against “the entitlement generation” and insinuated that they way children are raised today is the reason kids are “entitled”. The way her parents raised her would solve that problem in a hurry. The comments after the article were full of people praising her article and her methods. She was responding to an email that she had received from a stranger that stated “If your parents had to use a wooden spoon on you, then they clearly did not know how to parent you”. She took issue to this comment and wrote an article explaining the virtues of how she was raised.

In the article, her parents raised a doctor, an HR executive, and a Journalist, so “they must have done something right”

You know, I’m sure her parents are great people. This lady also seems like someone who in many ways I could look up to and admire. By her own admission, she is a successful well-rounded adult. And I agree with many points that she brought up. Her parents made them responsible for their actions. Her parents were not their “friend”. They were told no often. Her parents let them fall, so they learned how to get back up. Hey, I agree with this. We all need to be held to account. We need to go through tough times, to see that we can make it through. She made it clear that she and her siblings were raised with corporal punishment in order for her parents to achieve those goals.

BUT, here is where I start to have a bit of an issue. It is with this quote in the article.

 

I’m nowhere near a perfect parent. I learn something new everyday. But I do know…I want to raise my kids the way I was. Because I don’t want to send spoiled, entitled brats into the world.”

 

What that is saying to me, is that without the wooden spoon, her kids, and by extension, most kids that don’t get the wooden spoon will be spoiled entitled brats. I know I am oversimplifying, but that’s the message I get. The question I have for her is did she grow up ok “because of” or “despite” how her parents raised her.

Look, none of us are perfect parents. Many of us are raising our kids the way we were raised and because we feel like we turned out OK, we try to emulate that. Sometimes that’s a good thing. But if you are truly trying to learn as a parent I would encourage you to look at other possible methods and ideas before deciding that the way you were raised will be the way you do it.

Her parents “taught” her respect. “if we talked back to our parents, we got the back of my mom’s hand to our mouths…if we used a bad word, we got soap in our mouths…”

Not to mention, the article has connotations of getting hit with a wooden spoon.

I’m not here to say that she is failing as a parent. I would be willing to bet, that her kids are wonderful, respectful, intelligent human beings. To be honest, this is the only post of hers that I have read, so I want to be careful not to judge too much.

My parents never laid a hand on me. Very rarely were we yelled at or punished. I have never been grounded. And I, too, feel like I turned out OK. I take responsibility for my actions, and I feel like I am a resilient, caring, hardworking individual. My parents taught me respect by being respectful. I am not saying my parent’s methods were better or worse, but I will say I never had soap in my mouth. It is very possible to raise well adjusted kids with very little, if any, punishment.

There are just so many factors that go into the making of a well-adjusted, hard working, resilient adult. Corporal punishment is scientifically proven to be bad for children in general. Yes it worked for her parents, but I’m not willing to take that chance. There are many kids who are spanked, that do not turn out to be doctors and lawyers and have very little respect for people. Socio-economic status, friendships, education, where you live, extended family, traumatic experiences in childhood, religion, and culture all play into how a child will ‘turn out”. If your parents were white, middle class Christians in America, no matter what your parents did to you, you probably ended up ok. But if you grew up in poverty or in the shadow of racism or in a single parent household or all of the above, a wooden spoon was probably not a huge incentive to be “good”. I am disappointed that some parents will read this and think that this is the answer if they are struggling with their youngsters. Even though some of the child’s actions may be completely normal and age appropriate.Using force to control them may work in the short term, but short term parenting is not the goal.

 

I do not want my kids to be entitled. I say no fairly often. They do make mistakes every now and then. What I try to do is control myself when that happens. I can’t imagine physically harming my children in any possible way. I try not to yell. (emphasize try) How can I expect them to show emotional regulation when I can’t control my emotions. I think everyone understands the hypocrisy of shouting “stop shouting!’ at your children. I am choosing my methods because after researching how children learn and how they behave, I feel like I am giving them the best odds of being resilient, caring, compassionate, hardworking, respectful adults. It still may not work out. There is no guarantee my kids will not end up in jail. If more research comes out that says there is a better way, I will evaluate that method. This is what learning is.

If your kids are fairly well behaved, respectful and doing well in school, then I am sincerely happy for you. Maybe you don’t have to change anything. But are you doing the best you possibly can for your kids if you haven’t at least looked at ideas or methods that might help them be even better? More importantly, is their mental health ok?  After all, sometimes, strict parents raise sneaky children.

Am I smart enough?

 

school picture

I’m not that smart. I don’t think my IQ would register that high. Never measured it, probably because I am afraid of the result. I am trying to improve my cognitive function theses days. I enjoy learning. I didn’t always. Which brings me to this week’s blog topic. Education. Can anyone argue against “getting a good education”. Children whose parents went to college have a tendency to go to college. Children whose parents did not go to college want their children to go so they can get get a “good education”. That way, they don’t end up in a “dead end job”. I am certainly an advocate for getting a good education. I am much more of an advocate of being intelligent and a lifelong learner. This is the question I am continually asking myself. Is going to grade school the best way to achieve intelligence, a lifelong curiosity and love of learning?

Right now, with the system we have in place, I do not think it is.

School is not a bad thing. It is a needed part of society. Kids need to be exposed to information. Parents often need somewhere for their kids to go while they are at work. And there is the social exposure that the students develop.

The problem is that schools have not evolved their curriculum and methodologies fast enough to keep up with the changing of our world. Children are not empty vessels that are simply ”filled up” with information and facts to be subsequently regurgitated on a test in order to please teachers or parents. Those who can do it well are considered smart. Those who are not interested or have trouble remembering could possibly be labeled as not bright. It seems a cruel label that can stick with a child for years. He or she might be able to build an incredible Lego building, or sing any number of songs beautifully, but to not be able to do a reading comprehension assignment on a book they didn’t particularly enjoy may affiliate them with a negative label at 6 years old. Of course, this is an oversimplification, but if it happens enough……….

Students and adults in the workforce today need creativity, problem solving skills, critical thinking skills and the ability to collaborate and get along with others. Schools could be the vessel to do this, but it will take some reform.

I do not feel I was very well educated in school. It is not any of the teachers fault. They were hardworking, wonderful people who tried their best with the curriculum that they were given. I take full responsibility for not “applying” myself. I just did not like school. Fortunately I was smart enough to “do” school. In High School, I paid enough attention to pass most tests, and for those I was unsure if I would pass, I crammed the night before so that I would pass, with the information gone from my head as fast as I could answer the questions. English class was not for boys to excel in. It was “not cool”. So I barely tried at all. It did not help that the assigned reading was Jane Austen, D.H. Lawrence and the like. I don’t remember ever getting a chance to choose my own books after grade 4 or 5. (Though my memory of school before grade 6 is hazy at best. My memory of last week is also hazy) I knew that I would go to university after Grade 12. It seemed the only way to get a “good” job and have a happy life. I am living proof that it is possible to go right through college (in some fields), bullshit your way through subjective courses, come out the other side with a degree, get a job, and not be all that smart.

Does any of this sound familiar? Now I am not saying a degree is a waste of time. I am not advocating that at all. And I am sure that I picked up some problem solving skills and critical thinking skills just by being there. It is much better than 4 years of watching reality TV eating Cheetos on the couch.

But for me, the amount of information I need to put into my head to get even a small portion of learning to take place seems staggering. I don’t know how to learn. School turned me off learning and it is taking me a tremendous amount of time and effort now to relearn how to learn. What is my point in this ramble? It’s the following. Young children are wired to learn. They WANT to learn. They can’t get enough of it. They can learn languages, counting, reading, empathy, compassion, and facts all on their own by 4 years of age. Why do our educational institutions take the passion to learn away from many of them?

Clearly that’s not the goal of school, but I feel it is happening in some places. I base this opinion on my own experience and my children’s experience. Standardized testing, memorization, pressure to perform, excessive homework and lack of autonomy for students can drive away the passion to learn. (I’m sure Jane Austen was a great author, but I really didn’t have a passion to read her novels when I was 16)

How do we get it back? Good question. There are people smarter than me looking at this problem and trying to find answers. (They must have applied themselves.)