I'm Telling You This For Your Own Good (A Partial List From The Personal File)

The Next Family

By: Ann Brown

 

annobama2

..Don’t major in Ethnomusicology of Bulgaria
…Get a bra that fits
…That’s not funny; it’s hostile
…It turns people off when you use that language
…Don’t even joke about that. People died in the Holocaust. Your own family died in
the Holocaust.
…Um, those low-rise jeans on you? Not so much.
…It could use salt
…It’s too salty
…If you continue to talk to your husband like that, he’s going to find a woman who
won’t insult him
…Your kids could use a spanking
…Your kids could use a time-out
…You are too strict with those kids
…You are going to be sorry you did that
…You are going to regret not doing that
…Nobody is going to want to read a blog about this
…You are kind of a dork
…Everyone thinks you are a whore
…Please. Get a bra that fits already. I’ll pay
…No one is going to play with you if you act that way
…That boy is no good for you
…Get a teaching degree

I bet if I could show you an animated heat-activated cross section of the brain, it would prove that when anyone tells us something that begins with, “I’m telling you this for your own good….” the entire part of the brain that deals with open-mindedness completely shuts down. And goes into “fuck you and the horse you rode in on” mode. And makes a mental note to pick up cigarettes even though you quit smoking fourteen years ago.

And yet, and yet, and yet….we say it to our kids all the time. We couch it in parenting-speak but it’s the same message. Listen to me, we say in different ways, I know best. I know how to help you be your best self. You are pretty much an open-sored loser without my guidance. I love you!

I was doing field research recently (waiting for my sesame-with-lowfat, plain-schmear at Noah’s) and heard the following conversation between a mom and her five year old:

Mom: If you keep picking you nose, no one is going to want to be your friend.
Nose Picker: That’s not true. I have lots of friends. (Picks her nose)
Mom: But they are not going to want to stay friends with you.
NP: Un-uh. They have been my friends since preschool. (Dangles booger
dangerously close to mouth)
Mom: Well, it’s disgusting. (Mom makes a face and exposes poppy seeds in her
teeth.)
NP: It is NOT disgusting!
Mom: How would you like it if one of your friends picked HER nose in front of
you?
NP: I would LIKE it!!!!! I WOULD LIKE IT! If you tell me not to pick my nose,
I am going to pick it all day!

Now, THAT is dinner theater that teaches as well as entertains. It was all I could do not to applaud.

 

ANN BROWN

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