I am one of millions of people longing for quality, family television that shows African Americans in a positive light. We aren’t expecting the characters to be perfect, but we do expect them to be real, not stereotypical caricatures. Good television entertains, teaches, and inspires. The new original sitcom on BET “Reed Between the Lines” has the potential to do all those things. I definitely plan to keep watching to find out if it will. By the way, thanks BET, the writers, producers, and cast for attempting to bring dignity for African Americans back to television.
And, thank you for confirming something for me personally: my husband and I are a little too lenient with our 5-year-old. Our daughter isn’t as bad as little Miss Princess on the show, but she clearly knows how to express herself and advocate for what she wants, even after mommy and daddy have made a decision. I realized something was off when my husband and I took our daughter to register for Tae Kwon Do.
My parenting lesson began when Ms. Kim, the Tae Kwon Do instructor asked me, “What day would you like to come for the trial class?” I thought about our busy schedule and settled on Wednesday. It was Monday, so we just had to wait two days. But for a 5-year-old, two days is an eternity. Immediately, my daughter who was clinging to my side, started to whine and complain about having to wait. Instead of me saying, “We are coming Wednesday and that settles it,” I kneeled down to her level (that was good parenting, right?) and began to negotiate with her. Uh oh. . . that was not good. Here I was, a grown woman going back and forth with a 5-year-old about what day to take Tae Kwon Do.
It gets worse.
Ms. Kim (who, I am now afraid of) says very sternly to my child. “Obey. Your. Mother.” My heart stopped and the hair on my arm stood at attention. Case closed. I signed the papers, paid the $20 fee, got my “baby’s” uniform and left. Everybody was happy in the end, but I left wondering what in the world was I doing to my child. Although Ms. Kim was reprimanding my daughter, I felt like she was reprimanding to me too. Why did I feel the need to negotiate with my child? She can’t drive. She’s has no money. And she doesn’t have any authority to make any kind of major decision whatsoever. How long would I have stood in the lobby going back and forth with her about Monday or Wednesday, Monday or Wednesday? Her dad was there, but he negotiates too. We both need to change.
We believe a healthy self-esteem for our child and in allowing her to express herself. But something is wrong when parents and children starting communicating like they are the same age. I had to check myself. . . actually, Ms. Kim checked me.
So, somebody please answer this question for me: What has happened to the days of “Because I said so?” I heard it growing up, and I am pretty sure the majority of the folks reading this are familiar with the parental edict that means no talking back, no asking questions, no trying to persuade me to change my mind. We are doing XYZ because I said so. Period. This doesn’t mean a child doesn’t have a voice in the home. However, it does mean the child is the child and the parent is the parent. I know now that what happened at Tae Kwon Do should have been a “Because I said so” moment.
I’m so glad my child is taking Tae Kwon Do. The structure and discipline will be good for the entire family. Actually, they have a family class we are seriously considering. Don’t get me wrong. Our daughter is a really good girl. She is well-mannered and super smart. But I think parents today, including me and my husband, might be overindulging our kids in some areas. The pilot episodes for “Reed Between the Lines” confirmed that for me. Just because we want our kids to have more opportunities than we did doesn’t mean we can slack when it comes to teaching them respect for authority. There was a reason our parents and grandparents made “Because I said so” an integral part of our growing up. Sure, it kept us from getting whippings, but it also taught us that sometimes we just can’t have our way.
Was “Because I said so” a part of your childhood? Do you use it in your parenting today?
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