I’ve been thinking so much about my children growing up recently. I guess it’s because it’s summer and time to take stock. As cliche as it sounds, I can’t believe that next year my “babies” will be in 6th and 8th grade. Do you know what they hate hearing more than anything? When grown-ups tell them again and again that they are growing up too fast!
So, this blog is dedicated to my children in an attempt to express how they feel when they give people that uncomfortable smile in response to these five statements.
1. “Look how big you’ve gotten!” My kids are so sick of hearing about how tall and grown up they are now. I know that people mean well and also how natural it feels to say this to kids, but I want to try to help parents, grandparents, everyone to stop. (I want to stop myself!) Mainly, I think this embarrasses kids, and it’s something they have no control over whatsoever. And let’s face it, as everyone who’s ever been a kid knows, hearing this just gets old after a while!
2. “You better enjoy being a kid now, just wait.” My own dad always said, “Just wait until you get into the real world!” What world was I in? It certainly felt REAL. I took hard classes, had to take tests and survive those awkward middle school years. To me it was all too REAL. Why don’t some adults recognize or remember that those early years were filled with all sorts of challenges? And why scare kids about what life will be like after they grow up?
3. “We don’t have any babies in the family anymore.” This statement is often accompanied by a huge, wistful sigh. But what a terrible thing for people to say around your older children.
4. “Do you have a girlfriend or boyfriend?” (When asked to kids under 12 and under.) Do we want to encourage that or give our young kids pressure? Let them be carefree kids as long as they can. Do you realize a question like that makes them feel uncomfortable? Why do some people thrive on seeing children’s faces turn red? On behalf of my kids, please think before you speak. They don’t want to be embarrassed. There are lots of other topics that you can talk about with them.
5. Constant complaining. This isn’t about a statement, but an attitude. Who would want to grow up if all you hear and see is frustrated, exhausted adults? We come home from work and complain about our day; we complain that the gas prices are too high, and how much of a pain our boss is. We gripe that all we do is work. I think we need to embrace our older children, our tweens. We need to set a good example that being an adult isn’t all bad. I know we all have to do our chores but instead of grumbling, try to whistle while you work sometimes, and your kids will want to join in. Who wants to help an angry person slamming things around? Lighten up your spirit and your children will look at you as a role model. We need to prepare them for the responsibilities but also let them know that they can still have fun at any age.
What I suggest is that you have meaningful conversations with your children. Explore their interests. If they love movies, watch one together and critique it. If they like animals, go to a nature center. Have some fun together…jump in a pool with them, jump on the trampoline with them, show them you are alive! Take the time to find out their passion for life. Let them know that being an adult isn’t all bad. Tell them about the things you like about being grown-up, and what you’re passionate about. And the next time you feel compelled to say to a child, “Wow, you’ve gotten so big!” smile and ask them about something they’re interested in. Their answer might just surprise you.
How about you? What things do your kids hate hearing? What do you think adults should stop saying to kids?