So how do you ruin your child?

I’m not writing this as a how-to.  I know just yesterday I said it is REALLY hard to raise children to be irredeemable and/or constantly miserable.  I thought I’d give you an idea how.  NOT BECAUSE I WANT YOU TO DO IT.  But because maybe if you’re thinking- I suck as a parent- you’ll cut yourself some slack.

The Overachiever

There was one boy of around 8 I taught who was nearly fluent in English despite never having set foot in any English speaking country and despite being raised by Japanese parents who couldn’t speak English to any great degree.  He was a very smart kid.  He was funny and sometimes insightful.  He was almost always the best in his class.  And he was a nervous wreck half the time.

His parents were a wealthy doctor and his long-suffering, and much younger, wife.  They filled this poor boy’s day with activity after activity and sent him to the best school in the city.  He was expected to be the best, and he was criticized harshly when he failed.  One day he told me how he wasn’t studying hard and his parents told him to get in the car.  They drove him a mile away and made him get out and walk home.  He was 8 years old and already talking about running away to America, but he said “I can’t do it, because that would cost like $100.”

The Kid with no internal restraint

I am a mellow person and as a teacher had a  legendary amount of patience.   But one kid would just push my buttons every damn day.  I knew he was doing it.  I didn’t bother me all that much, but it bothered the other kids.  He’d disrupt everyone with his talking, but when that didn’t work, he’d throw stuff.  Break stuff.  Whatever it took.  I didn’t know what to do with this dude, because he wasn’t beating other kids up, he just could not help acting like a troll.

His mom stopped by class one day.  She yelled and scowled at him the entire time she was there.  Every time after that was like that.  It was like his existence bothered her.  It probably did!  I don’t know their backstory, but I’m guessing she wasn’t too big on the mom role.

I’m not trying to say strict parenting is a bad thing.  I’m not strict in the normal way people think about it, but I do have high expectations.  If you want to yell at your kids, do it.  I’m not proud of it, but I have from time to time.  But there’s strict and then there’s I HATE YOU I WISH YOU WERE NEVER BORN.  I don’t know what’s going to happen to this kid.  He wasn’t mean.  I hope he has some other relatives who love him.

I had another student I suspect might have been molested.  I’d rather not talk about her.

I’m not writing this to say that anything short of these things will be fine.  But all us parents tend to beat ourselves up or worry that we’re not doing a good job.  And there are billions of people in the world who will tend you that you suck and that your child will be ruined.  Your child most likely will not be ruined.  I have a way that I believe is the right way, and that’s how I’m raising my child.  But I’m not positive it will work either.  If you aren’t acting like the above parents, then I’ll just assume you’re trying your best, even if it’s not the way I would do it.  I’m hoping more people will learn to do the same.

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