Sunday, August 04, 2019

5 Things You Can Do Instead Of Shaming Your Kids

I went to bed last night after reading about the horrific massacre in El Paso, woke up this morning to read of another massacre in Dayton, then needing a bit of lighter fare, read a post from a mom blogger about her daughters’ messy bedrooms full of dirty laundry. She made them gather all the clothing in their rooms and took them to a laundromat to sort, wash, and dispose of everything they didn’t need.

There’s nothing wrong with that, and I don’t know how she actually behaved to them while this was happening, but what she wrote about it, with photos of her girls and the various items of clothing she posted were aimed at shaming them for their behavior. It made me feel very very sad.

I plan to write to every single one of my representatives, starting with the local ones and going all the way up to my senators, to ask what they are doing to address the level of gun violence in our country. Any person in any government role who has been voted into office should be addressing this in some way or other, because it could happen anywhere. It is already happening anywhere.

For the moms who are horrified by your children’s messy lives and rooms, I offer a few things to do instead of shaming them.

1. Model the behavior you want to see. Ask if you can help them organize their space. Make it into a fun thing. “Let’s get your room organized before school starts and then celebrate by going out for dinner!” Helping means just that. Not preaching, not barking, not shaming. Put on some music and dance your way through the clean up effort. Make it a bonding experience, not a shaming one.

2. Remember that creativity is generally messy. If you find clothing that has been cut up, dyed, drawn on, decorated with glitter, or otherwise changed from the way you think it should be, consider that you have a creative child. This is a good thing. Find ways to help them channel it. Please don’t try to shut it down.

3. Give yourself permission to freak out, but do it privately. I like things to be neat and orderly. I love seeing a room that looks tidy. Most of this is my own personality and way of being in the world. Some of it is because my mother was that way. Our house was clean and organized. Mostly because my mother hired someone to keep it clean and organized. My children did not have the ability to hire someone to do that for them.

4. Regarding the impulse to shame: if you are shaming your child it means you feel shame inside. For something. If you don’t know what it is, you can figure it out. You shaming your child is a Big Red Flag that you have work to do on your Self. It doesn’t make you a horrible person or a terrible parent. It just means your children are bringing up in you the things you need to work on as a human. Do it for them. But more than that, do it for YOU.

5. Most of the time our children grow up and move on to other homes. If yours haven’t yet, I bet when they do you’ll miss the messes. If not, no problem, enjoy your newfound clean and tidy home! If, like me, you do miss the creative piles, the projects, the crazy, fun, sometimes disgusting things you unearth, you’ll have to find ways to channel this. Like having cats, dogs, horses, donkeys, a pony, honey bees, gardens, and a ton of other stuff to keep you occupied. Enjoy it all. Life is short. Our children are who they are because of genetics and the way we treat them and how we act in front of them. When we see behavior we don’t like, we have to look first to ourselves, then to our extended families, and we have to make peace with all of it. In the end, if we do this, we can thank our children for helping us become more compassionate and loving.


Grey Horse Matters said...

You make 5 very good points. Luckily, for me, I don't have anyone left at home to make a mess but myself and my husband. We're both neat and organized. That said the children were messy when they did live at home. In their younger years, of course, I cleaned up but when they became teenagers they were responsible for their own rooms. I never put them down or shamed them. My stand on their rooms was either keep them clean or live with as much junk and clothing on the floor as you can stand. When you run out of clean clothes bring them to the laundry room. The only thing I can say I insisted on was no food left in the rooms to draw ants.

My older daughter was and still is neat and organized, my son was a bit lazy about his room, J. was the worst offender. But there is hope for messy teens. They all have their own homes now and keep them clean and organized. I actually have been asked to take my shoes off going into my son's house and J.'s house.

billie said...

Love it! And love your point that there is hope for messy teens - that could be number six. A lot of the time, teens go on to make very different choices as adults about the things we parents fret about and fuss over. The human brain doesn’t fully mature until the early 20s!

The whole sarcastic/shaming blog post just totally hit a nerve with me. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen child and teen clients whose issues were nothing that required therapy. The people who needed to be in my office (and they were, because I required it) were the parents. None of us gets a manual when we have children, and some of us have better parenting role models than others, but in the end the key to parenting is respect. Treat them with the same respect you would give an adult you admire and care about.

The same day I read about young white men gunning down innocent people I am also reading about young women being shamed for messy rooms. One is obviously much more horrific than the other but there is no question - these things are connected. How we treat our children. How we treat other people’s children. How we treat each other. Rant over. I’m in a bit of a fowl mood right now!