I know the current thinking with raising kids is that parents have to meet the kids where they’re at, support them in their interests, help them navigate the world. This means not forcing a son to play football when he’d rather swim or dance or read. This means letting the girls wear pink and play in high heels, no matter how much you swore you’d never let that happen.
What all of this doesn’t mean, however, is that families have to compromise their values. Moms and dads don’t have to ignore their gut instincts. Every whim of the child doesn’t have to be met with a new uniform, required shoes and a year’s commitment to lessons. Telling a child “no” is well within the realm of good parenting.
Or am I just being old-fashioned? A mother wrote in to MomLogic asking for advice.
The problem she faces baffles me. The woman’s daughter, 6, saw an ad for “Toddlers and Tiaras” and now she wants to be in the pageant. The mom doesn’t want her daughter doing pageants and wearing pancake make-up. But the mother wants to know whether she’s right to say “no.”
Godness, what have we come to if a mom doesn’t even trust herself on something like this? Of course, of course!, she should say no. But that’s not even the biggest problem. Why is this mother even wavering over her decision? What would make her think she’d be wrong to say no?
This and also the situation with Jessica Loenhardt, the YouTube tween Jessi Slaughter, who’s being harassed after she posted provocative videos of herself and later a video of her father screaming at video watchers in the background. What is it with this non-pageant mom and then Loenhardt’s parents that they feel so powerless to the wider culture? Why didn’t Jessica’s parents just take away their daughter’s computer? Who did the father think he was yelling at? Didn’t he realize he gets to say when and whether his daughter is online?
I definitely understand the idea of picking your battles. Believe me, I’m doing it daily. But I’m also very aware of my own limitations. I’ve got a clear-ish idea of where my boundaries are and I’m not the least bit concerned if they’re different from other parents’. This mom writing into MomLogic seems clearly opposed to little girl pageants — she has good reason to be! What would even make her want a second opinion?
What situations with your kids have made you question yourself?