image by Luis Garcia (Zaqarbal)

We all hear stories about the ‘bad’ kid. What they get up to, the lack of discipline in the family unit, the shock, the horror, the blame. But what about the ‘good’ kids? How does our world see them? And what effect does this have on our little ones?

Our culture loves to label people, whether it be good or bad. These, labels or  boxes are difficult to handle, even when you find yourself in a sparkly container with neon flashing lights. A box is still a box. You see, being a good kid, means expectations are high and your parents are seen as super duper ‘good’ or incredibly ‘controlling’. To quote Gloria Estefan, “it cuts both ways”.

I have pretty good kids. My son is well-behaved, sensitive, kind and not really a crazy boy. My daughter is spirited but on the whole, loving, kind and shy-ish. Sometimes various parental types will describe my kids to other parentals as well-behaved, good! It’s funny, you know, because I almost take offense to this. Not because they mean it as a criticism but it is as if they are saying that I’m lucky, I’ve got it easy or I’m some kind of super-mum. Which, by the way, is a complete myth! I quickly jump in with an embarrassed, “Oh they have their moments, don’t you worry.”

I don’t like being boxed in and I think it is unfair to label kids anything, even good! Because, I’m afraid that some kids, under that kind of pressure, go BAD! I love the idea that I fail. I have to, because I do it so often. It is a terrible thing for anyone to fear failure. Bring it on. My confession: I am not a perfect mother. I make ridiculous mistakes, I lose it, I have tantrums, (that equal my 4 year old’s sometimes). I get stroppy, cranky, I throw things, slam things and cry. I don’t know why my kids are well behaved and I definitely do not take credit for them. They are beautiful gifts and I’m so proud of them both. I love their personalities, their variety, their passions and beautiful hearts.

I never want them to live in a sparkley box; no one can ever live up to that glitter. It’s just not realistic. Everyone needs to have the freedom to fail and even to misbehave (or else how do you learn?). Otherwise, you have to live up to a perfect reputation which is impossible. It will drive them bonkers and make them miserable.

Maybe I have been strict or particular or whatever with my kids. But most of all I hope they remember that I love them, just as they are, even though sometimes, in those ‘fail’ moments, I wish they were more resilient or more sensitive or more aware or more tidy or ate with their mouth shut or ate dinner with gusto. Seriously, though, it is time we found our box cutters and set our kids and ourselves FREE!