Things Parents Should Strike From Their Vocabulary…

Follow Your Heart

Following your heart while leaving behind your head leads to a world of trouble. I wish someone told teenager Kat that twenty years ago. Following heart, bad. Stopping to think, good. The heart wants all sorts of crazy things and telling your child to follow theirs gives them a free pass to follow those desires without stopping to consider the consequences those actions may have on others.

You Can Be/Do Whatever You Want If You Set Your Mind To It

When I was a little girl I wanted to be a flying robot unicorn. You see how well that turned out. I like to think of myself more as a someone with realistic standards instead of a killer of dreams. Some things have limitations that need to be realized. There will be goals we set and try mightily at yet still fail. Sorry kiddo, that’s life. You’ll never be a flying robot unicorn or anything other than what God made you for.

Do What You Think Is Best

No. Emphatic no. Kids don’t know what’s best, ever. They look to responsible adults to tell them what is best. They need us to direct them accordingly. Kids think candy for dinner is best. Teenagers think doing what every one else is doing is best. If a child comes to you and asks for your input on a matter and the best reply you can offer is “do what you think is best” than you might as well say what you’re really thinking… “I don’t know. I don’t care. Where is the remote? Oh, you’re still here?”

It Doesn’t Matter What Others Think

Yes it does. It matters a great deal what others think; especially the opinions of family, employers, teachers, priests, and pretty much anyone who is in a position. Oh, and judges. You want to try and remember to impress judges should, you know, the need arise.

I feel so strongly about this I wish I could eradicate this string of words from the English language.

A child who is taught that the opinions of others don’t matter will grow into a person who lacks self awareness and does whatever the hell they want since – you know – they don’t care what others think. Parents especially. Who cares what parents think? This whole permissive philosophy of not caring reaps self indulgent adults who behave in all sorts of infantile, socially unacceptable ways.

We could definitely do with a more disapproving scowls to teach the socially wayward child what is acceptable.

You are now free to pity my son who suffers under my oppressive thumb.

About Katrina Fernandez

Mackerel Snapping Papist

  • bob

    This whole post feels like a bit of straw man; I rarely if ever hear parents say most of these things to their minor children. In every case, Kat seems to be placing these remarks into an absurdist context. “Do you what think is best”? Maybe if you’re talking to an adult child who is, say, making a career decision. Or possibly an older teen who is deciding where to apply to college. But to a little kid? Obviously not.
    “It doesn’t matter what others think”? Again, this is totally about context. Yes, it matters what others think. But depending on who these others are, what others think should help inform an opinion, not decide the opinion.
    “You can be whatever you want …” Well, yes, obviously when people say this, they mean, “within the framework of human possibility.” You can’t grow wings and fly. Must we take everything so literally?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      Children are literal minded. They will take it as such. And a grown child or young adult coming to a parent for advice on career or college still deserves better than lamely stating… whatever you think it best. Obviously if they knew what was best they wouldn’t ask.

    • ladycygnus

      “Should I have sex with him” was answered with “you should follow your heart” or “do you feel ready for sex” or “Do what you feel is best” or something like that. The correct answer should have been “Not until you are married. Lets talk about what sex is for and why it is beautiful inside of marriage and what happens outside of marriage.”

      “I want to be an astrophysicist!” was answered with “You can do whatever you want.” The correct answer would have been, “Do you feel God is calling you in that direction? What do you enjoy doing? What skills has God given you? Do you know if that field matches those skills?” (hint – answer was no…it took 6 years of college and work to figure that out on my own).

      “Nobody wants to be my friend.” was met with “It doesn’t matter what others think.” Well, since it doesn’t matter, just become so introverted that I learn to live completely in my mind with no input from others, then get confused when they get angry at me for being careless with those closest to me. The correct answer is “why do you feel that way? What actions can you do to be more welcoming of others? Are there people whom you are friends with whom you can deepen a relationship? Do you know how to deepen a relationship with someone?” Yes, at a certain point you have to realize that you can’t control other people, but teaching someone the basics of social interactions goes a long way to forming close relationships.

    • johnjiohn

      Pehaps if the post was addressd to adults in general rather than just to parents it would feel better…Monor children are bein told these things over and over by adults through the schools throgh the media and throughteen advice books and colums comming at em froall sorts of direcions. And what o you mean by an absurdist context?

      • bob

        What do I mean by absurdist?
        “You’ll never be a flying robot unicorn or anything other than what God made you for.”
        Well, maybe a four-year-old would think that, but, really, what’s the big deal? Eventually, they will realize that mom and dad didn’t mean LITERALLY ANYTHING. Was Kat scarred for life when she realized that, no, she wasn’t going to become a robot? Doesn’t seem like she was.

        I’m also a little concerned about the “what God made you for” language. I understand where that’s coming from, but that is SO tempting for people to use as an excuse to just give up. If someone wants to be a quitter, so be it, but don’t blame God.

    • Jennifer F.

      “This whole post feels like a bit of straw man; I rarely if ever hear parents say most of these things to their minor children.”

      Really? I hang out with moms of young children all the time, and I thought Katrina hit the nail on the head. People may use different phrasing, but the four mentalities she lays out here really dominate the common parenting philosophies, at least where I live. And, as Katrina predicts, they often do have disastrous results.

    • 3221

      I agree with Bob. Are you being realistic that teenagers need to care what others think? They are only too much into that value, peer pressure and all. Too many people do not follow their heart and instead follow the crowd into unthinking confomity. The Law of God is written in our hearts. You have taken timeless truths and put them into a contrived and shallow context.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

        These “truths” are what is contrived and they abdicate parental authority.

      • http://tadpoleintofrog.wordpress.com/ missjeanclean

        Kids need to be taught by their parents that they should care about what SOME people think, but not others. By the time they reach high school, these kids are using the phrase “I don’t care what anyone thinks” to blow off the well-meaning adults in their lives while simultaneously following the crowd (or the lead of their romantic interest, as the case may be).

  • http://twitter.com/dferg David Ferguson

    Good thoughts…

    Can I add a few statements that Parents should say?

    1) No.
    2) Do your chores.
    3) Get a job and earn some money.
    4) Help your sister.
    4) I am just trying to feed you, not fill you up. (From my dad.)

    • http://www.facebook.com/CeltsGirl Patricia Miller

      And when they whine about the “No” and question why, the response is: “No is a complete sentence.”
      Another parental favorite: “I am not prepared to argue with you.”
      Yes, I am the mother of teenagers! Please pray for me.

  • Calah Alexander

    I love this. Particularly the “you can do/be whatever you want.” That was a mightily damaging message for me, who grew up to develop some personal ideal of myself wherein I was inherently capable of whatever I wanted to do, thus I never needed to work for anything, and resented and immediately quit any task which required work. It’s a dangerous message.

    • filologos101

      Heard a good homily recently which included this: “It’s a commonplace for parents to tell their kids: ‘You can be whatever you want to be.’ No you can’t. I can’t be a professional basketball player. At 5′ 10” that’s about it for me.”

      • bob

        Spud Webb was an NBA All-Star point guard who once one the Slam-Dunk contest. Spud Webb was 5’7″.

        More to the point: What exactly is served by telling kids what they CAN’T grow up to be? What they CAN’T achieve? OK, I concede the point: It may not be literally true that you can do absolutely ANYTHING, but there’s a lot more harm than good in implying to kids that they ought not try to reach beyond their grasp.

        After all, a black dude with a Muslim-sounding name who was born in Hawaii (or WAS he?) can’t grow up to be president. Just, you know, can’t.

  • tubbs

    MARIE DRESSLER!!! one of the best of the character actresses.

  • Suzanne

    I personally feel that if every home had the Dowager Countess of Grantham our world would be a much, much better place.
    http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m70134egP51rqnt9wo2_250.gif

    • www.thecatholicwife.net

      HILARIOUS. Hilarious and true.

  • MrsAshley

    Yes, yes, yes! I especially abhor the first one.

  • Allison Howell

    Sesame Street theology has ruined an entire generation. Spot on, Katrina!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jambe-dArgent/100003865893919 Jambe d’Argent

    I agree with the first three but violently disagree with the fourth: after all, there is SO MUCH stupidity out there (for example, the same-sex “marriage” idea) that I’d rather my child missed a few wise bits than got infected with the prevailing idiocy (by the way, the mention of a judge is neither here nor there…)

  • Bozo

    Can I add another phrase I wish I’d never heard growing up: “Because I said so”


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