So this week, I read a parenting tip that said it’s important to teach kids that their needs and wants are not equal to mine. It was about making kids do things you want them to do whether they want to or not. Because my want is above their want.
It kind of stopped me in my tracks.
In my mind, I thought about how this would feel in other scenarios. So, ok let’s imagine the love of your life is just not helping you much around the house lately and so today is the day you’re having that talk about it. You calmly explain that you need more help around the house. Maybe just doing the dishes after dinner or cleaning up the living room after the baby goes to sleep. You want an extra hand to keep the house in order and can he (or she) help you?. And your loved one looks at you in the eye and lovingly, but firmly says to you, “I hear you, but your needs and wants are not equal to mine. And I don’t want to help around the house, so you’re stuck doing it. Ok love, now go about it.”
Yeah, I don’t think that would fly all that well, right? But to the little people of the world, we’re supposed to as parents pretty much say that to them. Oh and at the same time also major lessons like teaching self-esteem and empathy for others.
Oh I get it. I totally know that it’s not like whatever our kids want, they get. But, does it have to be, what you want is not equal to what I want? It’s really two very different lessons.
Remember how I said that it stopped me in my tracks? It did because I looked at my kids (three of them pictured above…4th one was being worn when I took this picture) and thought, could I really tell them this? Could I look at them and say firmly — “What you want is not equal to what I want so do what I tell you.” No, I couldn’t. Their trust and security in me would be damaged by statements in this. They know I care about their wants. That I respect their needs. And they know that when they can’t get what they want, we talk it out, we work it out. We try to compromise and when we can’t get it, they know why. But it’s nothing like — what you want is not equal to what I want.
I think in parenting in general, it’s important to think about how you’d want to be treated. What words you’d want to be told. How you’d want to be let down about something you really wanted. And then approach your children in that way…because most of us would want to be respected and heard. And nobody’s needs are above that.