Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Bad Habits

I personally would have opted for the ice cream cone distraction. 
A tried-and-true solution to the road trip blues. 

A successful entrepreneur who jets around the country as her hipster business explodes, this thirty-something mom was recording an Insta story from the front seat of the car.

Intentionally positioned in the shot behind her was her five-ish year old daughter. She sat still and silent as her mom continued to narrate her story.

Quick-witted and clever and no stranger to snark, the mom was making the point that her daughter was annoying her. They were on the outbound leg of a cross-country trip, and the kid had been asking, "When will we get there?"

Shocking, I know.

Mom continued to drive home her thesis with a series of pointed, unkind remarks: this kid was awful and aggravating. Yet during the video, the little girl simply sat quietly in her car seat, absorbed and thoughtful, and clearly taking in every word her mom was saying.


My hackles rose as I watched this scene unfold. When moms get together and privately gripe about their kids, that's bad enough. Everyone needs to blow off steam now and then, and who better to sympathize than other moms. I get that.

But when busy, working parents who travel for work finally take some time for a family vacation, and use that time to sarcastically complain that their kids are - wait for it - acting like normal kids, I'm not impressed.

So. I decided to send a direct message:

Maybe it's just me but sometimes the jokes about how your kids drive you nuts come off a little too snarky. I'm sure you are a loving mother but that doesn't always come through.

Her response chimed in within a few minutes:

That's okay! Just who I am... I love my kids, but can't change my personality. 

Hmm. I resisted the temptation to fire back. But here's what I wanted to say:

Talking smack is not a personality attribute. It's a bad habit and it has no place in a loving home. I don't know what kind of Friends-driven fantasies you have about real life, but people in loving relationships don't talk to each other in put-downs and punch lines. Least of all parents who are attempting raise young children.

So why don't you take the precious time that you have with your babies and use it to show them what a loving, respectful relationship looks like. Talk to them kindly, acknowledge their emotions, and show them positive alternatives to bad habits.

Yeah, in order to accomplish that, you may have to put down your phone from time to time.

Instagram will survive for a few days without you.

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