This nanny says we’re ruining our kids. Do you agree?
Emma Jenner is a British nanny who says modern parenting is in crisis and we need to fix it, now. “I’ve worked with children and their parents across two continents and two decades, and what I’ve seen in recent years alarms me,” she writes in the Huffington Post today.
She says modern parents are raising a generation of “entitled, selfish, impatient and rude adults” and then goes on to say that it won’t be their fault, it will be their parents’.
We never taught them any differently, we never expected any more of them. We never wanted them to feel any discomfort, and so when they inevitably do, they are woefully unprepared for it. So please, parents and caregivers from London to Los Angeles, and all over the world, ask more. Expect more. Share your struggles. Give less. And let’s straighten these children out, together, and prepare them for what they need to be successful in the real world and not the sheltered one we’ve made for them.
I’m not sure why but I keep imagining her wagging her finger at me while she says all of this, because she goes on to list all the parenting mistakes she’s observed over the past 20 years during her work with families in the UK and the US and I’m guilty of pretty much all of them.
Here’s her ultimate parenting test. It’s called the “sippy cup test”.
I will observe a parent getting her toddler a cup of milk in the morning. If the child says, “I want the pink sippy cup, not the blue!” yet the mum has already poured the milk into the blue sippy cup, I watch carefully to see how the parent reacts. More often than not, the mum’s face whitens and she rushes to get the preferred sippy cup before the child has a tantrum. Fail! What are you afraid of, mum? Who is in charge here?
I’m not sure what kind of families she’s working with but I can’t help but think of a mother’s face actually whitening as a result of using the wrong colour sippy cup might be a bit of an exaggeration on her part. Is she sure it didn’t redden with annoyance/frustration, but in an effort to pick her battles, the mum just gave the child a pink cup instead so the complaining didn’t start so early in the day.
Emma then says that on top of the fact we are giving our children the sippy cup colour of their choice we are also committing the following errors, thus ruining our children forever:
* We don’t discipline our children enough:
You don’t think a child can sit through dinner at a restaurant? Rubbish. You don’t think a child can clear the table without being asked? Rubbish again! The only reason they don’t behave is because you haven’t shown them how and you haven’t expected it! It’s that simple. Raise the bar and your child shall rise to the occasion.
I took my son’s iPod off him for an entire night when he refused to turn it off during dinner. Does that count?
* We don’t allow others to parent our children:
It used to be that bus drivers, teachers, shopkeepers and other parents had carte blanche to correct an unruly child. They would act as the mum and dad’s eyes and ears when their children were out of sight, and everyone worked towards the same shared interest: raising proper boys and girls. This village was one of support. Now, when someone who is not the child’s parent dares to correct him, the mum and dad get upset.
My niece’s bus driver told she and her friends to “sit the f down” a couple of months ago and I didn’t call to the school to complain. Does that count?
* We rely too much on parenting shortcuts:
Children must still learn patience. They must still learn to entertain themselves. They must still learn that not all food comes out steaming hot and ready in three minutes or less, and ideally they will also learn to help prepare it. Babies must learn to self-soothe instead of sitting in a vibrating chair each time they’re fussy. Toddlers need to pick themselves up when they fall down instead of just raising their arms to mum and dad.
My daughter tripped over this week and I put my coffee cup down, careful not to spill it, before coming to her aid. Does that count?
* We put our children’s needs ahead of our own: