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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Smile! You're on Candid Camera!


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(This article appears in the 6/26/12 edition of the Daily Review Atlas)
Want to know how athletes get better? Well, I'm sure the hefty paycheck professionals collect is a bit of motivation but I'm talking about players who are serious about improving their game. They all know after a performance the single best way for self-improvement is to sit down and review the tape.
Ah, the power of a recorded image.
Public speakers review tapes of themselves. So do actors, police officers, dancers and Dr. Phil forces his guests to do it. Why? For improvement of course! It's one thing to give a performance and evaluate how it went based on the audience's reaction, your personal feeling or the scoreboard but there's something valuable about sitting down and witnessing yourself in action.
This is precisely why I think parents should - on occasion - be randomly subjected to video tapings.
This would however be very difficult to accomplish, as mothers are historically, extremely camera shy. We are not actually camera shy, per se, we are simply weight-shy. Woman don't want proof of how much weight we've put and kept on since the birth of our children. We've made you think we are the better picture takers but you are fooled. We just can't stand to see our own image. Think I'm exaggerating? Go through some old family photos and see if mom got her photo taken. Chances are if she did, she's hiding behind her child.
But I digress. I’m not sure my idea would work in this age of reality TV. Anybody who knows they are going to be taped can’t possible behave authentically. I mean right? We all know reality TV is in no way reality. In the real world nobody lives on or gets voted off an island, people don’t jump in a tub with snakes and housewives are desperate but not THAT desperate.
No I’m not looking to produce any television show where bad behaving parents get caught in the act. I just wish parents could see what the public sees. What their child sees. Surely, if they could only see themselves in action, they could improve their parenting skills.
My heart always breaks when I see young children dragged by the arm through a store while the adult says something like, "Why are you always so slow? I'm sick of you making me late!"
I want to stop the mother and point out how much longer her legs are compared to her child's. Perhaps I could get her to consider her little person isn't deliberately trying to be slow but instead it may be physically impossible for them to keep up? And why is it the child’s fault you have undercompensated the time you need to run errands? Shouldn't you, the adult be a wee bit better at time management than, oh say, a preschooler?
What would you do Mom if you saw for yourself what you look like when you are treating your child like a nuisance? What if you had proof that your exasperation looked more like disgust? What if you came face to face with yourself when you were bent over, hovering and scowling at your child? Could I get you to hear what you sound like when you use that condescending tone of voice or would your eyes be open to the recoil on your child's face every time you tease and name call?
Maybe if you saw for yourself what this exchange looked like you would parent differently. If faced with yourself would you lighten up? Would you be more considerate or practice patience? Would you scare yourself? Could you see what your child sees?
Well, rest assured world. I won't do it. I won't secretly tape you in the store and then corner you with the playback. I don't feel like getting sued anyway. I do, however, feel like reminding parents and caregivers to lighten up just a bit. 
Let's remember that kids are children. They are a gift to us. It's our job to build them up, equip, teach and train them so that when they have grown they have the faith to believe and the skills to make the world a better place. Not a harsher one. If mommies and daddies don't show their children all the love, support and security they need to grow up into kind adults who will? Discipline is necessary. It just doesn’t have to be so cruel. Why? Because I’m the mom and I said so! That’s why!
Stephanie is a mother to five children, blogs at stephaniesikorski.blogspot.com and can be reached at ssikorski@mr238.org. She is a certified Parent Educator and she promises she is not going to do any video taping anytime soon.






1 comment:

  1. I don't have kids but I cringe when I hear parents berate their kids and drag them through a store. They are just little people; have patience! Great post. Stopping by from SITS.

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