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  • MJ Rodriguez

Can children just be children?



My mom was a saint. Ask anyone who knew her. One time she returned from a month-long trip and her church family lined up all the way to the church door to welcome her home.

Why was she so loved? She loved everyone. Never said a bad word about or criticized anyone. She made everyone feel important, loved, and welcomed. She not only loved people, she loved flowers and gardening. Her flowerbed was as big as her garden, and that was pretty big. She loved beautiful things, and to her, that was people and nature.


She loved her children. All twelve of them. In her love for her children, she was an excellent disciplinarian. She taught us to work out our conflicts, not fight over them. She taught us to obey our parents the first time and not have to be reminded over and over. She taught us to work hard, have integrity, and love others. When discipline was necessary, she did it with love, sometimes quoting scripture or singing to us: “Let a Christ-like spirit everywhere be found.”


She rarely showed disgust, but one thing that disgusted her was parents who failed to parent their children. She hated hearing parents warn their children over and over with empty threats. “They’re just lying to those kids,” she would say. She hated hearing a parent count. “I’ll count to three and you’ll get it. One—two—three, then nothing. Often the children helped them count, knowing the parent would do nothing in the end.


Should she hear a parent say things like, “My child is driving me crazy,” she would say, “You’re the adult.” She believed adults should carry the responsibility of knowing where their child spent their time, who they spent it with, and what they were doing. No, she wasn’t a domineering mom or control freak. She expected to be the adult and to make adult decisions so the child could be a child. As children, we played, we worked, we studied, we did all the things kids do without being concerned about adult worries.


Too often, children today are the adults. They tell the parents what they want and insist on their rights to have anything they request. They are the boss at home and expect to be the boss at school, causing problems for their teachers . They are undisciplined and arrogant.

I know some children who are forced to care for younger siblings while the parents sleep or party, or whatever. They worry about bills and having enough food or school supplies. They get themselves and younger siblings up and ready for school. This should never be.


Parents owe it to their children to be the adult so the children can be children. No more adultizing our babies. No more forcing them to carry the burden that should only be carried by adults. Parents need to grow up so children can wait until they’re grown up to be adults. That happens soon enough.


Let children just be children.

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