Are You Too Nice To Your Kids?

The other day, I was reading about D.L. Hughley hosting the first-ever comedy show on CNN. He said his dad never told him “I’m proud of you,” but that his dad just acknowledging that he was a first on CNN was like a pep talk.

2008.10.26 - Caution! Slip hazard!
Creative Commons License photo credit: a.drian

That got me thinking of something I have often thought about: I think my parents were too nice to me. When I was doing a traffic report at 1 a.m. in Northern California (yes, I did that), my parents acted like I was Hillary Swank winning the Oscar. “Your Aunt Arlene can get KGO in San Diego and listens to you!”  

When I hosted my first (and only) network show, “Playing It Straight,” they paid for me to have a debut party which coincided with my birthday. (The local news came and it was really cool. The show tanked, but that’s another story.)

Perhaps if they had been the kind of parents that withheld praise, I would have strived beyond my G-list status. Maybe I would have had that hunger to succeed I see in others,as opposed to my philosophy, which is: “I’m shooting for the middle.”

Am I making the same mistake with my daughter? When she draws outside the lines, should I continue to find something something to praise, like ,”Love that you used the whole page!” Or should start laying down some expectations?: “Try to get it within the lines.”

I was thinking of that HIllary Clinton story, of when she was a girl. She came home and told her mom some girl had slugged her. Her mom said to go back out there and face the girl, that “we don’t have cowards in this house.” She did, and clearly Hillary grew up tough and able to take a punch.

My mom would have said, “The girl who slugged you is a sick girl; I know her parents and they aren’t well. Forgive her.”

What have others done that seems to work?

Vivien for President

Parents, listen up! It’s never too early to plan for our children’s future, right? We try to put away some dough for rainy days, college, shoes… So while we’re planning their future careers, shouldn’t we also consider the future of our country? In this video, I lay out my plan for young girls to take over the world – I mean, the USA. Let’s start there.

Baby High Heels

Tarting up little girls has long been a pet peeve of mine. I get that some people don’t see the infant string bikini and such in the same way… but wake up! It’s the ho-ho-hoing of American girls. In this video, I take on another example: the baby high heels.

Motivating Your Kid

This is an issue that really intrigues me.  I was raised by a true “cool mom” who, if I asked, would let me skip school, thought a B grade was great, and when we got depressed and wanted to lie down for a few months, was like “Sure, I understand.” I think because she has worked with so many troubled youths, the fact that my sisters and I showered and didn’t try to set the house on fire made her feel we were fine.

But once I forged my way into the real world, I saw that a thicker skin and good penmanship – for starters – may have helped me along the way. I think a lot about how to be loving to Vivien and make her feel solid in herself, while also toughening her up for the real world.

One way I do this is I RARELY interfere if Oliver is teasing her. I like her getting feisty and either not getting her way with him and learning from that, or sticking up for herself and learning from that. I take cues from prominent people, especially women, since I believe we have our own unique hurdles to jump. I remember what Nancy Pelosi said when asked how a woman get’s to be the Speaker of the House.  She said, “I highly reccomend having 5 older brothers.”  Every time I hear Vivien wail “Oli-ver!!!” I think of that and stay put.

Or an interview with Hillary Clinton where she said if she got an A, her father would say, “That must be an easy school.”  Or Condi Rice’s parents making sure she practice that piano. Or Obama’s mom waking him up early before he went to school in Indonesia so that he could do correspondence courses she had sent away for him. Obviously a lot was expected of them, and losers they ain’t.   

So this is one of those moments when I didn’t want Vivien to give up.

Sexualized Teens

Once again, I visit the big gun in my arsenal – my mom. This is such a big issue for parents: how do you realistically protect your daughter from being too sexy? Is there an assualt from our media – I think so – or is this just our perception, since we are no longer the ones tramping around town? Morency, my mom, weighs in.