By Frank Lowe
Originally published on Advocate.com June 24 2014 8:07 AM ET
During dinner with a mommy friend of mine, we discussed how kids are 10 times more spoiled today than we were as kids. We went on to say that our parents probably said the same thing about us, so that means there is an endless chain of spoiling occurring. In hundreds of years, kids will be born and then handed the keys to the house. She mentioned someone gave her a “Children’s Bill of Rights,” and it couldn’t be more on point. There are 10 articles to this Bill of Rights, and I’m going to list them all and respond to each one. I have no idea who originally wrote this, but it’s damn good.
Article One: Because it is the most character-building word in the English language, children have a right to hear their parents say “no” at least three times a day, every day.
I have mentioned in another article, “The Power of No,” that I now adore the word “no.” I love it so much I could have it tattooed on my forehead and just point to it when my son needs to hear it (constantly).
Article Two: Children have the right to find out early in their lives that their parents exist not to make them happy, but to offer them the opportunity to learn the skills children need to eventually make themselves happy.
Can I get an Amen? My kid says to me all the time “Daddy, I want __________ (insert anything in here),” to which I reply “I hear you, but I’m not concerned with all of your wants, I’m concerned with your needs.” I will always be the type to teach a man to fish rather than give him a fish. The same applies to my kid. He will get every tool he needs to learn what happiness is.
Article Three: Children have a right to scream all they want over the decisions their parents make, albeit their parents have the right to confine said screaming to certain isolated areas of their homes.
Which is exactly why my kid’s “time-out chair” is located in our soundproof office.
Article Four: Children have the right to find out early that their parents care deeply for them but don’t give a hoot what their children think about them at any given moment in time.
So unbelievably spot on. Especially when it’s obvious that he says “I love you, Daddy” directly after he’s done something extra-naughty or if he wants something sugary. Bribery and flattery get you nowhere with me.
Article Five: Because it is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, children have the right to hear their parents say “Because I told you so” on a regular and frequent basis.
I say this most often after he has hurt himself and the crying has come to a halt. In fact, there is nothing more vindicating than saying those words to him.
Article Six: Because it is the most character-building activity a child can engage in within the four walls in the home, children have the right to share significantly in the doing of household chores.
Listen, I’m not going to say he’s working nonstop, but let’s just say that at age 5 he can already make a stellar martini.
Article Seven: Every child has the right to discover early in life that he isn’t the center of the universe, and that in the overall scheme of things and in strictly earthly terms, he isn’t very important at all — no one is. This will prevent him from becoming an insufferable brat.
I struggle with this one. I think it’s 100 percent true, but we have an only child, so it’s really hard to achieve this. He doesn’t even know what waiting in line is because we hire tour guides that take us to the front. I think I’m just as much of a baby as he is, so maybe we can learn this lesson together.
Article Eight: Children have the right to learn to be grateful for what they receive. Therefore, they have the right to receive all of what they truly need and very little of what they simply want.
From their mouth to God’s ears. See what I said back in Article Two. I absolutely love telling my kid this. He says please and thank you more than any other kid I know — I hear often how polite he is. Let’s hope it sticks.
Article Nine: Children have the right to learn early in their lives that obedience to legitimate authority is not optional, that there are consequences for disobedience, and that said consequences are memorable and therefore persuasive.
Absolutely. I’m a natural at enforcing this. Since an early age, we have established a “time-out chair” for when he misbehaves. This has become torture for him because he’s highly active, but 10 minutes of chill-out time does a world of wonders for his demeanor.
Article Ten: Every child has the right to parents who love him/her enough to make sure he/she enjoys all of the above rights.
Hands down the best words ever written. If only the conservative states that don’t allow gay couples to adopt would wake up and see this is true. I love how much I love my kid. I love how much my kid knows I love him. Bottom line: kids = love.
If you disagree with most of these “Articles,” then I have a feeling you’re the type of parent that lets their kid(s) run the household, and dear God, you’re going to have some major issues when they hit their teen years. Just stay away from us, and if your kid tries to get my kid hooked on drugs, you’ll have my mean ass to deal with.
FRANK LOWE is The Advocate’s parenting writer. Follow Frank on Twitter @GayAtHomeDad and on Instagram at gayathomedad.