Kids tell all | Mark’s Remarks

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I had an eye-opening talk with a small group of kids not too long ago.  

These kids  are a great group. They bring me joy each day, and the older I get, the more I enjoy getting a kid’s perspective. It is sometimes hard to remember how the minds of children work, but it’s also gratifying to see that many children have solid ideals and good heads on their shoulders.

Still, parents would probably turn purple if they knew what their children tell me. Again, at my age, I give parents a large amount of grace and mercy, and I communicate with their children with that attitude.  I often say “parenting is hard, you guys. You have to give your parents a break sometimes.”

The following are a few tidbits of our juicy conversation. I have changed the stories and genders around a bit to protect the innocent.

“My brother was grounded the other day.  He was out too late and my parents yelled at him. They told him he was grounded,”  said one child.

“Wow. Was he upset?  How long is he grounded?”  

I was curious, of course.

“I’m not sure. He sits in his room and plays video games most of the time or plays on his phone.”

“You mean, they didn’t take away video games or his phone?” 

More curiosity.

“No. He drove his car to his friend’s house the other night and my parents told him to remember to be home on time,” the child continued.

“OK. So your brother was grounded but he got to keep his phone, video games and his car? Plus, he also got to go to a friend’s house?”

“Yes. That doesn’t seem fair to me,” said the child.

I wanted to ask the question “What was he grounded from?” but I thought that might be pushing it a little.

After all, I had already asked too many nosy questions and did not do a good job of hiding the judgmental tone in my voice.

Now I know, kids get stories wrong sometimes.  I especially know this because I’ve had stories repeated to me from parents; things their children told them I had said or done at school. 

So I know, kids sometimes have different perspectives. Still, you’d be surprised how spot on they are with the details.

Our guidance counselor has often talked with parents about low grades or discipline problems at school, and almost always ends up asking things like “What consequences seem to work?” You would be surprised and amazed to know how many parents don’t give their children any consequences at all.

I once had a parent tell me she knows exactly how to take something away to make a point, after I had complimented her on how great her kids were and how well-behaved they were.

“They know their limits with me. Plus, they know their limits with their dad.  He and I are a team, and we don’t make threats. We both know exactly what to take away from them to make it hurt. They usually don’t make the same mistake twice.”

Some parents and other adults – including some teachers – would think these parents were harsh. Not me.

The story that made me smirk the most was the story about the big party a group of ladies had when their children went to prom.  

A younger sibling gave me the full report.

“My parents had people over after my sister and her friends took pictures and went to the dance together. Everyone came to our house and had a party.  My mom and her friends sat with their phones and made fun of some of the dresses the other girls were wearing. They zoomed in on their dresses and shoes and laughed because they thought the dresses didn’t look right,” one student told me.

“I didn’t think that was very nice,” she concluded.

You can see why teachers don’t bat an eye when we hear of children acting out, being disrespectful, bullying, or looking down their noses at other kids. We aren’t surprised when we find out about kids chastising another for the clothes they wear.

These attitudes aren’t innate.

Parents, I get it. We all want to let our hair down.  Everyone falls into the “gossip as a sport” trap at times. It is very easy for us to revert to our 12-year-old selves once in a while.  

We aren’t flawless. If I hear something from your children, I don’t automatically think you are a bad person. As I said before, grace and mercy must be given out freely to all of us.  We are doing our best in most cases.

Just be careful what you’re doing in front of your children. They are little sponges and they remember ALL the details.  

Believe me.

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