A friend shared the July 2014 article from Huffington Post called “5 Reasons Modern-Day Parenting Is In Crisis” by nanny Emma Jenner, and I immediately disliked everything about it. I skimmed the title so I didn’t realize it was written by a nanny, but I could immediately tell that it must be a non-parent that wrote it.
The idea seems to be clear here that your kid is not an autonomous being with his/her own ideas and needs. They must adhere to your standards and your beliefs and expectations. It also seems to not put any credit to age appropriateness of reactions, especially when children are little and their verbal skills are weak and what goes on in their heads doesn’t always come out the way they want.
Here is my abbreviated response to Jenner's 5 main points.
1. We All Have Sippy Cup Preferences
If your child prefers one sippy cup over another, could there be a reason that they can’t articulate? Maybe the blue one has a squished sipper and the milk doesn’t come out as well. Or maybe they really do hate that particular color. Don’t we all have preferences? We don’t take the red car when we really prefer the black one just because that’s the first one that the salesperson offered us. Control of sippy cup color is all a toddler has in a world full of things that are hard to understand, confusing and frustrating.
Being sensitive to your kids’ own personal preferences lets them know that what they think is important and that what they believe and want matters--even if it’s as simple as a cup color. It’s about respect for each other. They are people, not robots. They were born with ideas and preferences. Honor those.
2. Melt Downs Might Happen for Valid Reasons
She places misbehaving and doing chores in the same category so I immediately have an issue with that. They are two different things. Every non-parent has seen a kid have an epic melt down in a grocery store and shaken their head and wondered how that person could be such a bad parent. And then if you later had a child and that child turned into a toddler and you ever went out in public with them, you experienced an epic melt down at least once. And it was awful.
But again, these meltdowns happen most frequently in the younger years when their brain develops much faster than their verbal skills. They are not melting down for no reason. They may be tired or hungry or angry and these are all reasonable feelings that we’ve all had. The frustration of not being able to express that then tends to manifest itself into a tantrum.
When my kids had a meltdown, I left the place where I was as quickly as possible. No reason to subject others to my child’s loud crying. Sometimes I figured out what had triggered it “You know, I should not have planned to go shopping at nap time” and sometimes I didn’t. But it will pass. You don't have to punish your child or shame them. Talking calmly about it after the fact will eventually teach them calmness without shaming them for what is likely an age-appropriate and normal reaction.
As for chores, that is a different thing. I agree that kids need to learn responsibilities and how to pick up after themselves or help clean the kitchen. But they also need to be allowed to be kids. If play time or doing fun things is dangled as a reward only after a list of boring chores are done then it not only teaches the child to begrudge the chores but also teaches them that their feelings and wants are secondary to the wants of the adults. It’s important to remember, and I paraphrase, the quote by Mr. Rogers that said that play is the work of childhood. Because it really, truly is.
3. In a Village, We All Know Each Other
Again she mixed up issues. It started with parents not wanting others to correct their child and ended back to the “Congrats, you’ve brought your kid to the point of hysterics….way to go.”
I take issue with random strangers correcting my child because it is not their place when I am with them. A parent should be a buffer for the child for as long as possible. They should be an advocate and a protector.
If my kid is doing something that is against the rules and I have not seen it, I would like my attention called to that issue. But unless there is imminent danger to the child or someone else, it is not the place of the random stranger to correct or scold my child.
If I choose to leave my child in the care of a friend, teacher, grandparent or other adult, then I assume the responsibility falls back to them as they are the one in charge at that point. I always alert my kids to who is in charge and whose rules they need to adhere to. Teaching your kids that any random stranger can correct or control them is not only strange, it's not particularly safe either. Blindly obeying someone just because they are adults is a dangerous lesson for any child.
My children are not perfect. Not wanting a stranger’s correction has little to do with whether or not I think they are perfect angels.
4. When Your Child Thinks of Comfort, Their First Thought Should Be Of You
First of all, let’s address the most important issue. It’s spelled Caillou. Anyone who raised a kid in the past 15 years knows all about this miserable, makes-you-want-to-pull-your-hair-out cartoon.(*Note: Jenner seems to have updated this to the correct spelling at some point.)
Somehow, again, this goes from “Hey, don’t use electronics as a babysitter” to “don’t pick your toddler up when he falls and be sure to let your baby self soothe instead of putting them in a vibrating chair.”
Again, this goes back to my first point. What kind of relationship do you want to build with your kid? In those early years it’s all about bonding. About the child knowing that he or she is safe and cared for and that mom and dad will be there. Soon enough they won’t be toddling and falling. Soon enough a warm hug, a vibrating chair or a funny cartoon won’t be enough to make the bad day go away.
She seems to get some kind of satisfaction out of children’s distress and that it’s some kind of milestone if the parent is not there to help them. That’s not the kind of relationship I want with my kids.
5. Respect Is Modeled, Not Taught
I live in Florida and it’s hot. Really hot. And if we go to the zoo it’s also hot and sometimes my kids might need a drink. This is a basic and biological need. I don’t know about you but when I’m really hungry or really thirsty, I feel miserable all over. Now add to that little legs which may be taking steps at a two to one rate or more with the adult and a little person who doesn’t have the ability to cool down as well as an adult and you have a very miserable little person.
If I’m feeling overheated I’m certainly grateful if my husband has me sit in a shady spot while he goes to get me an ice cold drink, and I see no reason that the same courtesy can’t be extended to our kids.
This is all about perspective. It’s not about seeing our children as little annoying things that we must conquer with discipline and inattention. It’s about seeing them as people. People that are different from you and different from anyone else. They are also not perfect. Expecting perfection is unfair to them and stressful for the family.
If you, instead, respect each other then your kids will also learn respect. When they were little, I got them drinks when they were thirsty (in their favorite sippy cup). Now that they are older, they might bring me a drink when I’m out working in the yard and hot and tired and thirsty. I didn’t make them get me a drink or drill the idea of “respect” into their heads. Loving, respecting, cherishing, and soothing created contented children who felt safe and secure about exploring their world. They in turn grow up to be loving and contented adults.
And the world could definitely use a few more people like that.
Original Article in Huffington Post
- 5 Reasons Modern-Day Parenting Is in Crisis, According to a British Nanny | Emma Jenner
I've worked with children and their parents across two continents and two decades, and what I've seen in recent years alarms me. Here are the greatest problems, as I see them....
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on May 11, 2015:
Great hub about the sippy cups. It's useful and interesting for all parents with young children or babies. Voted up!
Schmetterling Maud on August 05, 2014:
THANK YOU! I had this same feeling reading the first article that the person was not a parent. I just love your response!
GJCody from Pittsburgh on July 23, 2014:
LCDwriter ....All I can say is very well said and very well done. I am a mother and grandmother so I get it. You have given life to a child with what you are saying and I hope more people read this article. Cheers to you for giving your opinion and speaking out (more people should speak out today). My very best to you!
Jayme Kinsey from Oklahoma on July 23, 2014:
Wow! One of the best hubs I have read in a long time. I didn't read the original article, but I've read hundreds of the same tone, and they always make me angry. Especially when they "lie" about how great things were back in the golden yesterdays. I come from a very honest family that won't hesitate to tell you that things weren't so hot back in the old days either. There were good people and bad people, good parents and bad parents, and good kids and bad kids. Probably for the same reasons you have them today--weird advice from people who are obviously divorced from reality!
I love how you have broken down her article and addressed the same issues. I too, feel that arguing over a sippie cup color is a poor fight. In, fact, the color of cup that a child prefers is so irrelevant to that kid's potential outcome as an adult, that arguing about it just becomes a form of bullying--someone bigger and stronger withholding something from someone who is helpless just because they can. My grandmother, who was a very abusive parent, always said "You have to break a child's spirit as soon as possible to make them obedient." That sounds exactly like what this "nanny" is doing, only in the name of creating "model citizens". Revolting.
Sorry to ramble. Just loved your hub and your responses! Congrats on HOTD!
Catherine Mostly from Seattle, WA - USA - The WORLD on July 23, 2014:
Spoken like a true parent - well done. Kids are 'little people'. Everyone needs to remember that.
LisaKeating on July 23, 2014:
Congrats on HOTD. Now that I am retired, I am out and about during the day. Unfortunately, I see a lot of parents not dealing with their children's misbehavior. I agree that parents should be the ones to correct their child, but too many don't. Also, most of the time the misbehavior is caused by the parent putting the child or children into a situation where they are bound to get bored and antsy. I hate it when a parent ignores a child's screaming that obviously bothers others or when they tell the child to stand by them and not touch anything as they slowly stroll down aisle after aisle of a store. Really? I couldn't just walk next to my friend and not touch anything or say anything. It takes a village to teach parents how to behave, not the children.
L C David (author) from Florida on July 23, 2014:
Jenner's article reminds me of this quote: "The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers."
Who said it? Socrates (as reported by Plato). The more things change the more they stay the same.
Rebecca Be from Lincoln, Nebraska on July 23, 2014:
I enjoy seeing what is the best in Hub writing. Now I know what to look for and emulate. Thanks for the article.
Vicki from Tennessee on July 23, 2014:
Very well-written - I can see why this was chosen as HOTD! Congrats!
moonlake from America on July 23, 2014:
She's having her own baby, I wonder if she will say the same things a year from now. What's she going to do when her child is screaming in the middle of the night and won't sleep? There has always been ways to sooth babies now its vibrating chairs, when I was young it was “me” that soothed my cousin and little sister by pushing their buggies back and forth while my Mom did her housework in the 50's. Things are different now, but not as different as she thinks. I would like to feel bad for her, but I don’t; because I think she is going to be shocked when it is her own child.
Enjoyed your hub and congrat on HOTD. Voted Up
Shasta Matova from USA on July 23, 2014:
Congratulations on Hub of the Day! I too let my daughter choose her own sippy cup and even what she wanted to wear. It let her learn how to make decisions and the consequences of her decisions, as well as let her feel that she had some power over her own life. She only threw one tantrum because once I learned that I shouldn't be taking her out to the grocery store until after her nap, things worked out much better for her. Your last point, respect is shown, is especially right on. I don't want my daughter to blindly obey what someone else tells her. I want her to think for herself.
DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on July 23, 2014:
I didn't read the original article but I love yours. The only place I would take issue is with "not letting strangers correct your child". I agree, that if they are with you, then it is not someone else's place to do so, however, if children are out alone, then sometimes a reminder that other adults are about can stop them doing something they shouldn't. I was on a bus one time (as a teenager, no children of my own) when two children got on by themselves. They weren't badly behaved but started to stand on the seat to look out, so I asked them to take their feet off the seat and they did so immediately. They had obviously been brought up not to do this and standing on the seat could also have meant them falling when the bus moved, so I felt this was appropriate. There was also a terrible case, many years ago in the UK, where two young boys of 10 years of age, managed to take a young toddler who was walking behind his mother away without her noticing. They killed the child. I always remember the comment made by a woman who saw them walking along the streets with the child crying between them. She said, I wondered at the time if I should interfere but I thought perhaps it was their brother and that I shouldn't interfere: I will always regret that.
Grace Marguerite Williams from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on July 23, 2014:
Great response and congratulations for being selected HOTD. The parent-child relationship is the MOST important relationship in the world. Such a relationship can make or break a child. Parents are their children's first role model and teacher, for either better or worse. Parents are to love and guide their children with lovingkindness; they have to realize that their children are human beings with emotions/feelings and that children have bad days also. That is all par of the course of being a child and a mature parent understands and work with this. Parents must learn that parenthood is a process of teaching; it is not powerplay and upmanship between the parent and the child. Children are not automatons that parents can bend to their will but individuals worthy of respect.
Karen A Szklany from New England on July 16, 2014:
Without having read the original article, that nanny scares me. I think the parents of the children she watches should put in nanny cameras around their home and watch carefully.
I think you are a loving parent and we think alike on parental strategies. Whenever my husband advocates disciplining our daughter the way our parents disciplined I cringe, especially when she breaks a rule that he inconsistently "enforces".
I believe that our parents' generation have issues with empathy and I want to raise a much more empathetic person, with a much higher emotional intelligence.
And respectful parenting does work. I have worked hard to comfort my daughter and provide consistency with expectations. When she forgets to clean up after herself in one way, I have her make it up by doing it next time, or doing something a little extra that needs to be done a little later, like taking out the compost or putting the recyclables in the appropriate dumpster. She is very good at offering to help out with basic household chores. She also does bring water out to my husband when he's mowing the lawn, or to me when I'm gardening. Yesterday evening, she gave my husband the bowl of rice with more soy sauce in it and the the bowl with less, just out of love and a sense of fairness. I was impressed, and my husband let her know that he appreciated her kindness/thoughtfulness. ~:0)
Great hub about parenting. It sure reinforced my own approach. My daughter is almost 10 and I still sing lullabies to her at night. She's usually the one who reads her own bedtime story out loud, usually while I am knitting and listening. :0)
Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on July 09, 2014:
LC, whoever this Emma Jenners is, she has NO business being a nanny! I agree with every rebuttal you present in this hub. I'd hate to see what really goes on while the kids parents aren't around. They should consider putting nanny cameras around the house. She sounds like a very mean person.
mbuggieh on July 08, 2014:
I absolutely agree with your point:
"If you, instead, respect each other then your kids will also learn respect. When they were little, I got them drinks when they were thirsty (in their favorite sippy cup). Now that they are older, they might bring me a drink when I’m out working in the yard and hot and tired and thirsty. I didn’t make them get me a drink or drill the idea of “respect” into their heads. Loving, respecting, cherishing, and soothing created contented children who felt safe and secure about exploring their world. They in turn grow up to be loving and contented adults."
L C David (author) from Florida on July 08, 2014:
Thank you so much kathleenschwab. I appreciate your thoughts on this. Yes, I think I'd just about seen enough of these articles. Every generation thinks that the current one is doing a "terrible" job and it was so much better in the old days. Reminds me of that Socrates quote:"Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers."
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
kathleenschwab on July 08, 2014:
These types of articles about how modern parents are so overindulgent are popular. Great job pointing out the issues with this approach - especially the point about 'it takes a village.' Nothing is easier than laying on a judgement about the character and motivation of parents, comparing it to the rosy past, without taking a look at how the world has shifted.
The world needs empathetic people, and the kind of parenting the nanny advocates doesn't produce them.