Tag Archives: disobedience

The unconditional love myth

Childfree people in America often get nagged by those with kids about unconditional love. People who have kids imply in a very intrusive way that if their interlocutors choose not to have a kid, nobody will love them unconditionally. “Who will love you unconditionally?” or “You will never know what unconditional love is” it goes. But do American parents really experience unconditional love from their kids? Their behavior shows that they not only do not, but the kids’ love, if any, is strongly conditioned by bribes and concessions from their parents.

Seeing American parents kowtowing to their kids throws a shadow of doubt on their unconditional love statements. Do they really believe it, in spite of their behavior that proves the contrary? If so, they must be really naive. Do they not see that what they call “unconditional love” actually depends on constant bribing and catering to the kid?

It is very easy to observe anywhere in public places that American parents are scared that their kids will not love or even like them. They do not make any demands for proper and respectful behavior for fear that their precious snowflake will not like it and, in turn, not like the parent who made the demand. They beg the kid instead of giving clear and strict orders and put themselves at the mercy of the spoiled, bratty kid. “Please, please, would you please, you are hurting my feelings, please do not scream this much, do not hurt my feelings, please, please, please” is their way of telling a two or three year old to stop ear-piercing screaming in a public place where silence is a standard required behavior. “Keep quiet”, “stop it” or “quiet, right now!” with a strict, serious face (and an immediate smile after the kid complies) is enough to get a normal, well-trained kid to comply, and this is what millions of people all around the world successfully do. However, Americans not only lack those skills, they are also too insecure and have a constant need to kowtow to the kid for fear it will not love them. So, where is the unconditional love?

American parents do not require the kid to eat what they decide is good for it but give it too many choices, often unhealthy, and let the kid that is too young to make such decisions eat whatever it wants, just because it wants to. Wherever food is served, it is easy to notice frequent scenes of this kind. I also remember an article published quite a few years ago about a woman from California (actually occurred before the more recent case in San Francisco) who started an action to ban within the whole town a fast food meal choice that included a toy just because her two year old kid was harassing her (her own term) to buy it. This behavior is not only a terrible lack of child-rearing skills and the spine to say “no”, but also the mother’s insecurity that the kid will not love her. So, is this the unconditional love?

Americans stuff their kids’ mouths with candy bribes whenever they can and at a single kid’s whim. They fulfill kids’ orders obediently and immediately. They buy tons of toys just because the deity kid requested them, played with them for a short time, and after dumping them in a far corner to be forgotten, made requests for new ones that the insecure parents obediently bought. Even worse, if the parents buy a toy the king or queen does not like, they get yelled at, thrown insults at, and jump into the car to get the right one, terrified that the little dictator will not like them. Companies play marketing tricks on parents’ insecurity by offering more and more toys and tons of plastic add up in landfills, ruining our common heritage – the environment – just because someone who has a kid does not want to say “no”. So, where is the kid that loves unconditionally?

Love normally includes respect. American kids, however, disrespect their parents severely, and the parents let them do it terrified that they may not get “unconditional” love if they bring the kid to order. I heard kids, starting at a very young age, disrespect parents in public places with unmentionable insults, “stupid” being the lightest of them. I have heard young kids talk back to their parents in such a shameless and aggressive way that a normal parent in any other culture would react immediately with proper punishment. I have read outrageous stories of very young kids abusing their parents verbally and physically (no, not teens with criminal backgrounds, but preschool and early elementary school kids of middle and upper middle class parents), with parents doing nothing to counteract it, just complaining about it. I was appalled to see kids actually beat their parents in public places with no reaction on the adults’ side. So, does unconditional love really involve verbal and physical abuse?

In so many societies around the world, parents teach and train their kids strictly. They make demands and requests, they make the kids work, they punish the kids for any attempt of disobedience and disrespect, they are never at kids’ whim, to not kowtow to them, do not obey kids’ orders (kids would never dare to give orders to adults, they may only kindly ask), they would never let a kid talk back to them, not to mention a kid hitting an adult. Those kids do not have expensive toys and happily rely on what they invent to play with. They do not have designer clothes, some of them barely have any hand-me-down clothes at all. They do not get candy bribes, extracurricular classes, or expensive vehicles with permanently unemployed mothers to drive the kids.

Yet, these kids are happy, polite, and respectful. They love and obey their parents, respect them and, in the lack of reliable social security systems, take good care of them when they get old (nursing homes in these societies are scarce or nonexistent). It is a result of parents’ wisdom in loving and disciplining the kids accordingly. It is the child rearing skills passed on from generation to generation, leaned by living one’s life in a participating society, without succumbing to any fads of “parenting styles” but also the confidence that results from these skills. These parents are not insecure or terrified that their kids will not like them. They are sure of their kids’ unconditional love which indeed has no conditions or requirements just as their parents and grandparents were sure and confident.

Love is not about bribing. If a bribe is needed to get something, it is corruption, not love, and by no means is it unconditional. Worshiping and bribing kids, putting them on a pedestal as the center of the universe, and kowtowing to them is harmful for both the kids and the society as a whole. It spoils the kids, makes them extremely rude, self-centered, and entitled. Just look around, this deplorable result is clearly visible (and especially audible) in all sorts of public places. Kids must be disciplined wisely, by responsible, confident adults not terrified or insecure that the kid will not like them. The unconditional love will follow as a result of the proper child rearing process.

A recipe for failure

Many American parents fail because they are inconsistent and give up too easily. Countless times, in different towns, in different states, on different ends of this large country I have seen a parent give an order to a child without enforcing it. Here are some examples:

Example 1: Small town in New Jersey, I do not remember which one because many of them look alike with their endless rows of houses. A kid about 4 years old was biking in the yard in a direction away from home. A young woman, whether a mother, a relative, or a nanny, it is really unimportant, shouted from the doorway of the house: “Come here!”. The kid kept biking away. She did nothing. She simply gave up and did not enforce her request. My mother, or any parent I know, would go to the kid, grab it and bring it to the place indicated as “here” to show it:

a) What “come here” means;

b) That a kid must obey an adult; and

c) That a kid will never get away with disobeying because an efficient enforcement system is in place.

The woman failed to do so, thus, she failed to teach the kid a valuable lesson. The next time the same kid may disobey her order and will for sure disrespect people in public places many times.

Example 2: Parking lot in Austin, TX. A guy parked his car, got out and opened the back door to let his kid out. He took the kid, about 5 years old, into his arms and said: “stand”. The kid did not stretch its legs for standing, having clearly no intention of standing at all. The guy gave up and carried the kid to the store, failing to enforce his request. A responsible, consequent adult would make the kid stand no matter what, for the same a), b) and c) reasons listed above, with only the activity changing in point a). The way this father acted, the kid was deprived of a valuable lesson. A couple of months down the road the same kid may disobey a “do not cross the road” order from an adult and get run over by a car just because it is encoded in its mind that adults’ orders mean nothing as they are not enforced.

Example 3: Santa Monica, CA, on a sidewalk in front of a health food store. A woman took a kid out of the car. The kid started running ahead. The women shouted “do not run”. The kid kept running. The woman did absolutely nothing. She failed to teach the kid the same lesson the same way the two persons above failed. Can you see the pattern a), b) and c) here?

Example 4: New York City Subway. A woman was talking to another adult. Her child, about 6 years old, was pulling her arm, shouting “mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy”, each time louder, disrespecting with this disruptive behavior, not only the mother and her interlocutor, but also other passengers. The woman finally said something to make the kid stop, but she did it quite late, when the rude behavior was already going on and on for some time. This example is different than the three above, but only by a little bit. She should have made the kid stop the disrespectful behavior the first time it started disrupting the conversation of the adults in order to teach it effectively not to repeat this kind of behavior in the future. The way she acted, the kid will most likely disrupt other adults’ conversations and other peoples’ quiet enjoyment in the future.

In all the above cases, the kids ages 4-6 should have been taught to respond immediately to adults’ requests a long time before. Failure to do so unavoidably resulted in kids’ rudeness, disobedience and lack of respect and may potentially result in situations dangerous for them. I am sure you have seen many of these kids and parents in many public places because the patterns “do not do it (or do it) – disobedience – no reaction” are so common.

I do not know if people do not enforce their requests because they are simply lazy or because they kowtow to the incarnated deity – their kid. Either way, they are doing both the child and the society a huge disfavor.

In most of the societies I know with exemplary results of well-mannered children, people teach them to respect adults’ requests much earlier, usually before their first birthday, and continue consistently, with no exceptions, by reacting promptly and unavoidably. In kid-obsessed America, they do it very late, if at all. The results are deplorable.

Giving orders and letting a child disobey by not reacting at all or reacting too late is the best recipe for a parental failure so commonly seen in all public places in kid-worshiping America.