You’re Not Trying To Raise Well-Behaved Kids

We have so many things we need to do as parents. There’s the logistics of it. The survival aspect of it (food and shelter). There’s the education we have to give them. There’s the experiences we want them to have. There’s the values and character we know need to be instilled.

So it’s strange that we seem to measure ourselves and other parents so much on something that has very little to do with this: Politeness. Behavior. Appearances. That’s why we’re always admonishing our kids, why we’re mortified when they act out, why we’re judging other people whose kids are loud or talk back or make messes.

Having a kid who is quiet and does everything adults say is not necessarily a sign of a great parent! It may well be the opposite: They could have parents who are mean or use corporal punishment. They could also be a complete mess under these appearances—for manners only say so much about someone’s character or self-awareness or happiness

We’re not trying to raise well-behaved kids. **As we’ve said before, we’re not trying to raise kids at all. The whole point of parenting is to raise our kids into adults, it’s trying to raise these little people into good human beings.

Of course, behavior matters but it’s not the end all be all. Tantrums aren’t great. Kids are sometimes going to be crazy. But as parents we need to remember that our primary job is teaching our kids how to manage and regulate their emotions and urges—it’s not to stamp them out because they embarrass us. A 16-year-old is going to have big feelings and make big mistakes. Our job is to help them through it, not add pressures to conform and suppress on top of it, not to add shame and self-loathing on top of it.

Remember this always: You’re trying to raise well-adjusted adults, not well-behaved children.

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