I started a new session of swim lessons today and couldn’t believe the huge variety of relationships I saw between parents and their children. I know I have verrrryyy little experience in the parenting department (I am a kick-butt older sister, may I add), but the actions of some parents blow my mind.
A quick Jessi-childhood fact: My mom’s way of punishing my sister and I when we were misbehaving in public or showing-off around family is called ninja-punishment parenting. If my mom felt that we acted poorly in a restaurant or in church, she would smile this extremely sweet-evil smile and whisper a few choice words in our ears. While the people around thought my mom was softly saying how much she loves us she was actually listing out everything we were going to lose as soon as we stepped inside the house.
We lost desserts, TV, having friends over, movies, cell phones and cars. Please note the cell-phone and car entered the list later on in my life – proving the ninja-punishment method works not only on children, but teenagers and young college-students as well.
Blame it on the heat or something in the water, but I have never heard so many parents scream at their children as I did today.
As a lifeguard and manager at a private pool I see a wide range of families. I see parents who drop their children off all day and treat the pool as a babysitter, parents who become fearful when their son/daughter heads to the diving board and my personal favorite, parents who scream at their children all day.
Last week I saw an argument between a mom and her eight or 10-year-old son. The mom was standing in the pool talking to her friends while her son and his friends saw around and fetched dive sticks. The little boy threw a stick close to the group of women, and while kicking to retrieve it, accidentally splashed his mom and got her hair wet. She immediately yanked his arm and dragged him to the side of the pool, telling him because he misbeahved he wasn’t allowed to swim anymore and had to sit out til she was ready to go home.
In my defense, I had been guarding the pool all day and hadn’t seen this child act out once. I believe this woman’s actions were slightly uncalled for and the punishment did not suit the crime.
These types of actions carry over into my swim lesson classes.
I had worked with two 7-year-old twins for about three weeks and was making progress with both children. However, one of the twins was a natural born swimmer, while the other took much more coaching and time to accept certain skills. On a particularly cold day I was having trouble having my water-shy swimmer enter the pool. I had finally convinced her to put on her goggles and put her legs in when her mother came up and threw her into the pool.
Way to ruin WEEKS of progress and destroy any confidence I created.
I couldn’t believe that a mother would interfere in lessons, and even worse, not understand that a fear of water is real. You cannot force your child to swim immediately if they have slight hydrophobia. It takes time and patience, not frustration and pressure.Respect needs to come from both sides – children and parents. Parents need to understand their kids may not think of their mom’s hair first when going for a pool toy, but they shouldn’t be punished for not knowing. Parents also need to understand siblings may have different skill sets and fears, and learn to respect those specific needs.
At least, that’s my humble 21-year-old opinion.