Childrearing

When Your Child Becomes The Entertainment

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A lot of my friends don’t have children. Some aren’t ready for kids yet. Some don’t think they’ll ever have kids. But almost all of them find my daughter pretty entertaining, or at least they pretend. Children can be very amusing. They mispronounce words in the most adorable way you can imagine. They repeat phrases that they don’t understand. And lots of kids really enjoy performing for adults and receiving laughs and applause.

As parents, we often encourage this behavior. We like showing off our super-cute, super-smart children. We tell them to recite their ABC’s and sing “You Are My Sunshine”. We help them show off their dance moves and prove their physical prowess. We share anecdotes of clever observations like, “Mom, this zipper is just like a train track.” And by the way, how smart was that? They’re both long and skinny. The zipper moves along its lines just like a train moves along its track. She’s a genius, I’m sure if it.

See, its impossible for us to hold back. Parents put so much time and effort into raising our children, they become our biggest source of pride. A smart child means that the parents have worked hard to teach them. A sweet kid means that their parents have taught them manners. An athletic child shows off great genes. In every way, we love proving that we’ve made our children amazing, talented, gifted brainiacs. And once we’ve gone to all this work, we just have to let someone see it.

With childless friends, it’s an amazingly symbiotic relationship. The friends get to have some adorable children in their life without having to worry about the mess, the money or the sleeplessness. And you get an excited audience to applaud your child’s awesomeness.

So is it really surprising that a day with my girlfriends from high school can turn into a mini-talent show? But how fun is that for my daughter? And what exactly is it teaching her? The whole thing starts off harmless. The little one does something cute, everyone comments. Or I start sharing a story from our last vacation, or maybe just last night. Like when my daughter came home and ran to hug the dogs. I said, “Hey, do I get a hug?” My munchkin said, “No, Mom. You’re chopped liver.”

I’m telling you, those stories are too cute to not share! But I don’t want my daughter to feel the need to perform to get an adult’s attention. I don’t want her learning or interests to be for the sole purpose of impressing those around her. I would never dream of telling her that her value lies in other people’s perceptions of her. So why do I encourage this little talent shows?

It’s purely selfish. I’m proud of my little girl. I want to share how wonderful she is with those around me. The fact is, my friends and family are going to love my daughter no many how many songs she sings or one-liners she delivers. With perfect comedic timing. I’m just saying. Can parents be proud without turning their children into circus performers? Because it’s something I need to work on.

(Photo: Thinkstock)