“Say you’re sorry!”

10 Feb

An interesting piece by Judith Warner titled ‘Why American Kids are Brats”.  Warner reflects on Pamela Druckerman’s new book, “Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting” and her own experiences as a mother who started raising children in France and then moved to the US. Warner notices that French parents regularly insist that children say “please”, “thank-you” and generally engage in social niceties. They do this, she argues, because it is a way for them to learn that they are not the only ones with feelings and needs that matter. She compares this with American parents who teach, through action that “their children’s wants and needs come first, no matter what”. As a teacher I see this manifest all the time. Just because I teach north of the 49th doesn’t make me immune to self-indulgent students who are rude to others or helicopter parents who don’t understand why their child’s needs aren’t always the #1 priority in the classroom. My friends and family exhaust themselves chauffeuring children to activities and surrendering their lives. That experience is a million miles from my own childhood in the north of England. I remember my Dad coming to my sporting activities once, and I was embarrassed when he did. I asked him not to come back and he didn’t. That was my stuff and not his. Last summer I walked by a youth soccer game of 5 year olds and was amazed at the crowd. I counted and estimated that there were more than 3 adults per child in attendance. Crazy! Students in my class need to learn they aren’t the only ones with needs. They need to wait their turn, listen to others and treat their peers and adults with respect, etc. It might be the only place they get this important message.

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