Parenthood has been an intense learning experience for me. Probably one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to respect a child’s trust.
Really, that is all a child has to offer. He/she has no impact on the decision to bring them to life. They cannot work, they can’t earn, can’t survive on your behalf. They can’t, and shouldn’t, make themselves “useful”. All they can give us is their trust. An implicit bond that’s more intense than the strongest handshake or the most heartfelt hug. Something that says “I know you’ll take care of me and look out for my best interests.” Of course, almost all parents understand this, but it’s the details that matter.
I’ve seen so many family friends, even my own parents sometimes treat kids (us) with a dismissive attitude. They’re KIDS for God’s sake! Just feed them some spiel and keep them quiet! This usually manifests itself as some pointless promise. “You’ll get a chocolate if you eat your dinner, OK? *insert upward inflection*” The child nods and gobbles down whatever’s put in front of them. However, no chocolate appears. The child is shunted off to bed.
Toddlers, for instance, are little people. They have tremendous sophistication in their thought but are unable to articulate it in words, which is where their “tantrums” and their frustrations stem from. When the Wife pointed this out to me it was an eye-opener. That meant the child is hanging onto your every word. And every empty, unfulfilled promise is a stab in their heart. A stab that probably puzzles and hurts them twice as much because it comes from their parents.
I stopped BSing immediately and noticed the difference. The child trusts with no strings attached. If they doubt your intentions, even if it concerns a measly little chocolate, it hurts them. They may not be able to articulate it when they’re two years old but they sure as hell will remember your subterfuge when they’re a little older and have the crutch of the spoken word to lean on.
You know what makes it worse? The fact that your child will know, but never tell that you’ve been a deceitful asshole when they were young. I can’t live with that.
Treat them with respect if you want them to treat you with respect. Don’t kid your kid.