There are a lot of bad habits to pick up from the Internet, but one of the worst is shaming. If you look up “shaming” on the Internet, you will find a plethora of stories of lives completely ruined by a public shaming. Now, I’m not against a little “mom guilting;” in fact, I think kids ought to know why they ought to be ashamed of themselves when misbehaving. I stop short, though, at publishing their mistake for the whole world to join me in making them feel bad!
As a principal, I write many emails to parents to let them know of an infraction committed by their child or grades slipping or the such. Teachers have been griping about the change in how parents handle this for over two decades now. When I was a kid, if my parents received a call from the teacher or principal, I got a second punishment at home. The shifted reaction has been one of putting the blame on the teacher, and we’ve not been too fond of that. Recently, though, I have had many parents who blame themselves.
“It’s my fault. I’ve just got her involved in too much.”
“It’s not his fault. It’s mine. I never was any good at that in school either.”
“My child is just so anxious, and I haven’t had time to get him to a doctor to see what’s wrong.”
Okay, I’m all for not overextending your child or for getting him medical help if needed, but much of the time I hear these things, I KNOW that the child is not overextended or hereditarily bad at a subject or anxious. Parents, before you let your child put a heaping of “mom guilt” on your head, do some investigating. I have told my parents before not to argue with their gifted children. They will have you apologizing for making the birthing process so uncomfortable… for them! Well, don’t let them blame you for their troubles, either. Gifted kids know how to get the focus off of them and on to you. We used to call this “false guilt,” or feeling guilty for something that is totally not your fault. When your child is making unwise decisions, and he starts to tell you all the reasons it’s your fault, put the responsibility squarely back on his shoulders. After the admonishment, give him some guidance as to how to avoid this situation again, and even offer to point out when he is slipping toward it again. Help your gifted child see that mistakes are made by everyone, and no one is required to be perfect from the get-go. We just have to own our mistakes and work to fix them.