By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | April 15, 2015
Aesop was correct when he said, “familiarity breeds contempt.” Familiarity breeds a comfort level between parents and children that allows unkind words and actions if not brought to mind.
Example: When you have a new visitor in your home, you are less at ease with them. You want to see to their needs, offer them a beverage and maybe seat them in your favorite chair. With this same person you would not want to burp or pass gas or be seen in your underwear.
When it comes to our own children, though, we don’t mind so much if we do any of the previously mentioned faux pas because they’ve heard, smelled or seen it already; we are comfortable with it. This comfort zone also allows us to say things to our child we wouldn’t say to a neighbor or stranger—hurtful things.
In elementary school, Katie had a friend whose mother taught at our community school. While visiting one day the mother was reviewing her daughter’s classwork from the previous day. Quite unexpectedly, she tapped her daughter on her head sharply and began scolding her for errors marked in red.
“How can you be so stupid?” she asked, and tweaked her shoulder.
The girl was obviously upset and embarrassed and took the papers to her room.
I asked her, “You are a school teacher; how can you treat your daughter that way? Do you hit children in your class for their errors?”
She excused her behavior saying, “But she is my daughter!”
She said she would never put her hands on a student that way but apparently familiarity made it acceptable to hit her daughter on the head and berate her in front of others. I was truly stunned but the more I thought about it, I could see how parents and children take liberties reserved for those close to them.
How can we fix this comfort level? There’s an old saying, ‘treat company like family and family like company.’ Simply being mindful of our comfort levels and how they affect our behavior can make a difference. Since the outside world can be cruel and mean, children’s homes should be one of the kindest, safest places around. Taking this a step further, teaching this to children can help them become more self-aware.
Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.
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