My kid’s birthday is coming up. He wants a scooter. Not the kind that you stand on with one leg while kicking with the other. No, he wants the three-wheel mobility variety. The kind you get when you’re in your 90s. The Hoveround. My wife even told him, “Those are for people in their 90s who can’t walk.” He said that he could take care of that.
He found out about these scooters through a television commercial. Television commercials, in case you’re unaware, were designed by the Nazis. Every television commercial contains a subliminal message that only kids can hear. It says, “Hey kids, your parents can’t hear me. Tell them you want them to buy this for you. Okay do it again. And again. One more time.”
Catalogs were also designed by the Nazis. They have some kind of agreement with Toys R Us to send catalogs to your house every year just before Christmas and your kid’s birthday. The subliminal message on children’s toy catalogs says, “Circle at least 87% of the items in here and hand it back to your parents. At least three times a week, remind your parents what you circled.”
I grew up in a culture of divorce. Almost every kid on my street came from a busted up family. Most of our moms were all alone and just doing the best they could to keep the family alive. The epidemic of fatherless homes remains but today there is a newer, more subtle epidemic as well. It’s called kid worship.
In the culture of kid worship, it doesn’t matter if there is a dad because the kid ultimately gets the final say. Dad, if he’s around, is merely the benefactor. The sugar daddy, if you will. Mom usually has to help with that too but she’s also the taxi driver.
To be fair, the kids usually don’t demand worship. Well, maybe some of the ones on those TLC reality shows do but that’s the exception. I hope. Instead, most kids just want. They want to be happy. They want to do things. They want stuff. And the parents who give in to those wants would never admit to worshiping their children. Some of those parents go to church and even have a sticker of a Christian fish on the back of their van. But, as it often does, idolatry comes in disguise. In this case, it comes dressed as good parenting.
It tells us that our child’s self-esteem is paramount and that things like discipline and rejection should always take a back seat to affirmation and acceptance.
It tells us that there is nothing more important than a child’s dream and that any good parent will make the necessary sacrifices to see those dreams become a reality.
But we’re not getting the whole story.
If all you care about is your child’s self-esteem while neglecting discipline and training, 15 years from now you will have a very confident 25-year-old sleeping on your couch.
If you have determined that there are no boundaries when it comes to helping your child reach her dreams, no matter what those dreams are, you may end up getting to see your little girl on TV. The only problem is that she’ll be the one getting laughed at by the judges on American Idol. Does that show still come on? If you worship your kid, you better hope it gets cancelled. Soon.
The toy catalog sitting on my kitchen table is not a dream book. I don’t look at every circled item as a potential career for my son to excel in. I’ll only end up buying him a couple of the things he circled. So I guess you could say that I’m a dream-killer for not affirming and financing my son’s desire to be the first man to own 1 million Legos and a Hoveround before turning 21.
I’m okay with that.
And so is my son.