Why do we assume children are incompetent, helpless morons?
As a parent I am starting to really notice commercials where adults pretty much assume children are helpless idiots.
It starts with commercials or articles that say things like:
“So when your kid loses his jacket for the second time this winter, you’ll be able to replace it on the cheap!”
“If your daughter loses her stuffed bunny because she forgot it on the bus, you’ll be able to soothe her with a replacement.”
“When your teenage son smashes your car coming home from a date, ____ insurance has you covered.”
This is my face throughout these commercials:
Who are these kids losing things like backpacks, winter coats in the dead of winter and smashing cars?
I NEVER LOST ANYTHING TRULY IMPORTANT AS A CHILD
Neither did any of my siblings.
You might think this is incredible but it’s true. We kids knew the importance of things like making sure our backpacks were zipped up, our mittens and hats were always placed in our pockets after taking them off, and we never lost a single article of clothing or anything of true value to us.
Know why? Because my parents were not interested in our sob stories.
When I had a teddy bear I couldn’t live without, I hung on to him for dear life because I was scared of leaving him anywhere. You pretty much had to pry him out of my death grip while I was sleeping to be able to wash him.
(I still have him.)
I never lost a winter coat, winter boots, hats, mittens or anything important to keep me warm because .. I just didn’t.
Why would I?
I NEEDED those damn things to stay warm while walking home, or else I’d freeze.
I always checked to make sure I had my hat and mittens before I left school, and before I left the home. If I forgot it, I .. just froze until I could get home or to school to try and find out where I left these items.
Maybe I was just a particularly detailed and OCD child in this respect, but I never had to ask my parents to replace anything unless it was well and truly broken and ripped.
AS FOR TAKING CARS OUT ON DATES AND NOT BEING RESPONSIBLE?
That just never happened in my family.
First of all, no one dated openly. If you brought home a guy or a girl, you better be on the verge of proposing or marrying them because they’d get grilled as if that were the case.
Secondly, my parents did not lend out their car to their teenage children to impress their dates. If you wanted to date someone, you found a way to date them without the car, even if it meant taking the bus or the subway to go meet them.
Thirdly, my parents did not pay for car insurance for their kids. I was actively encouraged to NOT get a driver’s license because they didn’t want to have a discussion of borrowing cars and paying for me to be able to drive said family car.
I didn’t get my license until I was 25, and the first car I ever owned, I paid for in cash and bought it only because I needed it to get to work (no subway service out in the boonies).
Fourthly, if you (hypothetically) had the use of the car to go out on this (non-existent) date with another human being whom you’ve managed to keep hidden from my parents, and you came home with the car dented, smashed or in otherwise NOT its original, pristine condition, you were never allowed to even look at the car again without supervision.
In fact, sitting in the car as a passenger would be the extent of your rights until the end of time.
My parents would probably remind you well into your 40s of the time you brought the car home with a dent in it.
Oh and it goes without saying that you’d be paying for all the damages, taken off this hypothetical car insurance (if you were ever put on it in the first place).
I AM NOT SAYING I WOULDN’T REPLACE ESSENTIAL ITEMS LIKE A LOST WINTER COAT
Now if my children were less conscientious about keeping their things and making sure that they didn’t lose anything, and lost a winter coat, I would definitely replace it, but I’d teach them a lesson while replacing it.
I’m wavering between buying the ugliest replacement coat possible to wear to teach them a lesson to never forget a winter coat again, versus another tactic which I have yet to come up with.
Maybe something along the lines of not buying or paying for something they were promised, and using that money towards a winter coat instead.
So if for instance I had promised to pay for tickets to some event, I’d take that money and buy a winter coat instead, while explicitly telling them why they won’t be going to said event because of their carelessness.
Let’s say they forgot their favourite toy on the subway and are inconsolable.
Assuming we have gone through all the channels of calling authorities and going back to the scene of the lost toy and so on, as traumatic as it seems for a child, it is a non-essential and I’d probably refuse to replace it.
I certainly wouldn’t be buying a boatload of other toys to make up for this lost one. It’s a futile endeavour because how can you really replace a toy of such sentimental value anyway?
It’d be a good time to teach them a lesson about taking care of things they care about, and eventually, they’ll get over it as all children do, but they will never forget that lesson of the day they left Mr. Bunny on the seat.
I AM SAYING TO TREAT YOUR CHILDREN AS RESPONSIBLE INDIVIDUALS EARLY ON
When I buy my kids something, I am planning on telling them that it costs money, and therefore my time and hard work to purchase said items.
If they lose it, and it is a non-essential, I am not buying it again.
If they lose it, and it is an essential, there will be consequences to their careless actions, period.
If you think that children at the age of 5, perhaps even 3 years old can’t understand this, then I think you are underestimating how smart your children are.
Children understand a lot more than you think.
If you assume that they’re incompetent, flighty, forgetful little people, they’ll act to your expectations and not care about losing mittens, forgetting homework at school and so on.
As for taking the car out to go somewhere with friends or on a date, I wouldn’t be adverse to letting them do that, but they would need to have proven to me long before the time comes to let them take the car out alone on the road that they are responsible, smart kids who know better than to drink and drive, and will be careful on the road.