Thursday, October 31, 2013

Can we talk about that ad???

Is it just me?
Whenever I see this ad on tv my head spins. Not like I'm ovewhelmed by intense thought; more like that girl in the Exorcist movie.
The premise is that this guy is taking his little girl to school. I'm guessing she's a second grader? She wants to dress inappropriately for school, in her butterfly princess outfit. He says no, because of course, that is ridiculous, you don't wear costumes to school. She, like the mature little champ that she is, accepts his direction and puts on a perfectly lovely dress, a dress that 8/10ths of the world's children would thank the stars above to wear.
But then... she sighs. She is experiencing sadness, disappointment. But just a little! She's not crying, she's not threatening to leap out of the car.
So Dad turns around, because apparently they are so early that they have plenty of time to head back and change her entire freaking outfit and make it back to school for picture day.
When did it become so unbearable for parents to allow their kids to feel feelings? This guy's reasonable parenting efforts were dismantled by one sigh. My parents had no problem with us feeling disappointed... in fact I think they kind of enjoyed it. When we'd say "but I want (whatever)...!!!" my parents would say (siblings, say it with me): "Wanting builds character."
Seriously, this girl is experiencing a modicum of disappointment and handling it well and this guy BLEW IT.
I heard a stunning radio doc a few years ago (wish I could cite it, sorry) where a woman said "parents think their job is to make their kids happy, but it is to make them resilient." If move into adulthood as resilient people, you see, they can find/make their own happiness. I believe parents think back on their childhood moments of unhappiness but forget to change lenses- they see those disappointments through the eyes of their inner child, and forget that they were building blocks to the lives they have built. It's not a good thing to live a life free of disappointment. This doc also said that even after all these years of parental efforts to "make children happy,"  modern teenagers' average rates of stress equal those of teenagers who were institutionalized in the 1950's, implying that this formerly debilitating level of stress has become the norm. We are not raising resilient kids.
Wanting DOES build character, and dealing with frustration and the occasional "no" builds resilience, and that's going to be important if kids are ever going to launch from their parents' homes and make lives for themselves one day.
Oh and here's another thing I think whenever this ad plays- I imagine that man's wife coming home from work that day to find that her daughter wore that ridiculous outfit to school... on picture day... and I bet she gives that guy an earful... and I hope she signs her daughter up for the retakes.

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