I know we don't really care what Glenn Beck has to say about anything anymore. He's kind of fading into complete Sinead O'Connor-like irrelevance at this point. But when I heard about the parenting advice he gave the other day, I just had to cringe on behalf of his kids. And I'm bringing it up because it's something I've heard other adults say. Glenn Beck wants you to push your kids up against the wall. And now, the full troll bait -- I mean, the full quote in context.
Ask your kids tonight at dinner, "What gives you the right?" Challenge them. Get in their face.
You talk about, "I've got rights, you know." Really? Who issues them? Teach 'em a lesson. Push 'em! Well, they're gonna cry, it's gonna hurt their feelings. Well, push 'em!
Because if you don't do it now, it's going to be much worse when they're pushed and they're shoved and they're shot. Push them! Teach them! The need to know the truth and they need to be pushed up against the wall once in awhile so they know they can defend themselves. They know they can survive! They don't run around like little girls crying at the drop of a hat! Push 'em!
I can see how this will all go down at the dinner table. Unprovoked, I suddenly grab my 9-year-old son, throw him against the wall, and start yelling, "WHAT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT? WHERE DO YOUR RIGHTS COME FROM? GO ON, CRY YOU LITTLE CRYBABY GIRL! RIGHTS! AND STUFF! YEAH!" And in just a few fleeting seconds, I undo years of trust-building between us and he never looks me in the eye again.
Okay. I think I understand the teeny, tiny shred of reasonable intention somewhere in that insane rant. And I don't think he means we should literally shove our kids up against a wall. (I think?) Maybe, if we connect the dots on a large org chart on a blackboard, we could trace this all the way back to the idea that we need to teach our children that rights come with responsibility.
I dig, Glenn. I dig. But you're expending waaayyy too much energy here. You don't have to do an imitation of the scary rageaholic parent who explodes at unpredictable times and sets their kids up for a lifetime dependence on Xanax to teach your kids about the relationship between rights and responsibilities. You could just, you know, give your kids some responsibilities and hold them to 'em.
You don't have to "toughen" up your kids. If you want your kids to be resilient in the face of adversity, you teach them to recognize their feelings and deal with them in a mature fashion. You could teach them to get back up and try again when they fail or when people put them down. People other than you -- a parent should always have their kids' back.
If you want to challenge your kids intellectually, you can do that through a series of conversations using your inside voice.
And by the way, if you don't want your daughters to run around "like little girls," what should they be running around like? What exactly is Glenn after, there? Is he suggesting we raise our daughters to be transgender? I just think it's ... interesting that he used that phrase.
Anyway, I think this is an example of how some people want parenting to be a series of dramatic events or epiphanies where Big Lessons are learned in a primetime television, audience-grabbing way. The truth is, the Big Lessons aren't usually learned in big, cataclysmic moments of drama. They're more often learned little by little, through countless tedious actions that require more patience than you'd ever imagined you'd ever have.
Do you think it's ever a good idea to throw your child up against the wall to toughen them up or teach them a lesson?
Image via David Shankbone/Flickr