One day I was working in one of my favorite local café’s to focus down and get work done.
The café is a public place. There were lots of people sitting around doing what they do in cafés—chatting, reading, reflecting, that sort of thing.
They probably were not coming to the café to be held hostage by the series of shenanigans being exhibited by a boy who was accompanied by his mother and grandmother.
Clearly this boy was the most special, most amazing living thing his family had ever seen, and he was being treated accordingly. Otherwise, what could possibly explain the fact that they never attempted to set a limit on or to correct his public behavior? They just looked on with a bland smile while he conducted himself accordingly in the restaurant.
Since no limits were set, he kept ratcheting up his out-of-control behavioral repertoire. Stomping around the tables, calling out in a loud voice, sliding under and around the tables were all fair game. The rest of us, who were not as impressed with his “specialness,” did our best to continue doing what we were doing. The mom and grandparents must have been very puzzled as to why we weren’t clapping, cheering, and smiling at the boy’s every move.
Modern parenting seems wrapped up in layers of theories about raising children, most of which strike me as pretty misguided.
Children, when treated as this boy in the café was, are in danger of becoming “hedonistic pirates,” demanding pleasure at all costs. There is no end to their demands, and the parent (with this willing approach) is all too happy to indulge and provide a constant stream of pleasure.
From where I sat, being held hostage by this hedonistic pirate of the café, there was something very wrong with the picture.
Yes, children are special, but if they are so special that there are no legitimate limits being set on their behavior, they are at risk for seeking pleasure at all costs. This style will lead to others not wanting to play with the child and will impact their social development. (It’s also not a fun way to live in the house.)
Read more posts by Richard Selznick, Ph.D. here. Dr. Selznick is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.