Widely shared on Facebook, a new article from the Forward entitled, “Ignoring My Kids — For Their Own Good. Why Our ‘Look at Me!’ Culture Is So Wrong,” discusses the virtues of restraining ourselves from validating every single thing our kids do.
When I began reading the article, at first I thought that perhaps the author, Jordana Horn, was going to take it in the direction of pulling back when it comes to capturing and sharing every little thing our kids do (just like we do these days with our own lives thanks to smartphones and Facebook.) For a moment I thought she was encouraging parents to live more in the moment rather than obsessively capturing every art project or goofy smile.
I was wrong.
Horn makes it very clear that she’s recommending going even further by pulling away from giving children validation for things they do both large and small, from drawings they’ve made to attending their baseball games.
I cringed when I read this, but I have to admit that she makes a valid (yet scary) point.
“…If I leap to obey each time I am told to ‘look at me’ — or applaud them for everything they do — they will have a distorted sense of what ‘accomplishment’ really is.
…If a kid feels that her actions have no worth until they’re observed and applauded by someone else, then how can she develop an inner compass? How can my son develop a sense of what gives him personal satisfaction if doing a good job hinges on my attendance or approval?
In other words, it shouldn’t be the stamp of my eyeball or my presence that makes something worth doing or accomplishing. It’s the personal satisfaction of having done your best that conveys real worth, and self-worth.”
I can see her reasoning, though I have to admit there is something in her logic that doesn’t sit well with me, despite her claims that it is working wonders for her and her children.
I personally am inclined to believe that not giving your children enough validation can cause adverse affects down the line.
Validation is a basic human need which should not be belittled; withholding validation to the extreme could cause damage to a child’s self worth rather than doing good. The last thing parents would want is for their children to grow up feeling like they never cared about anything they ever did or accomplished.
I’ve heard too many stories from friends whose parents practiced Horn’s advice religiously (though not consciously) and left them scarred as a result.
I believe the key here is balance, and I would like to believe that the true intention of Horn’s article was to emphasize that over-indulging children to the point where they can’t function independently without constant parental ‘acknowledgement’ or ‘applause’ is not the way to go. This should absolutely be tempered with knowing your children, being attuned to their unique personalities and really listening to their needs.