Don’t take it out on their kids

When I was growing up in Salt Lake City, my parents had a family friend who never earned nor did he ever deserve a cross look from anyone for anything. Why? Because he was the kind of guy that you could never hate or find fault with. Nicest guy ever. His wife was a real piece of work but I’m not going to waste your precious time or any of my brain cells on her.

This guy was one of the kindest most selfless people I knew and I have always respected him because he never spoke ill of anyone even though there were many that criticized him for one reason or another. In fact, when people were mean-spirited or condescending towards him, it seems like he made an extra effort to be kinder, gentler and more humble, especially to those who treated him unkind.

I saw him cry once. I was tossing a football around with some friends outside a community dance one night and I saw him sitting in the car bawling. My first thought was, ‘Geez I never wanted to see a grown man cry like that.’ And just as that thought crossed my mind, he looked straight at me and there was that awkward moment when you don’t know whether to smile, wave or act like you didn’t see them. I chose to ignore him because, what do you say to a grown man who’s sobbing like a soccer mom who just lost her valium in the middle of a meltdown?

A few days later we were at church and I overheard him speaking in Samoan to my mother. Samoan parents had the misconception that none of us “American Samoans” could speak or understand the language. Luckily for me and my siblings, my parents made it a point to speak the language in our home so I didn’t really speak the language well, but I could understand almost everything the adults said, except of course their corny jokes and sexual innuendos. Those I preferred to ignore.

‘Are you feeling better?’ I heard mom ask.

‘Yes, I just don’t know why it really affected me this time,’ I heard the man say in his shy, barely audible voice.

‘I think it’s because they attacked your kids. Anyone would have reacted that way if their kids are being mistreated.’ Mom could have been a therapist if she didn’t have to contend with eight brats and all those people she often took in.

‘I feel bad I yelled at them.’

‘Well, it was a natural response. I just thought you should know that my husband and I really care about you and we hope that your kids aren’t affected by their mean words.’

‘Thank you.’

I was baffled. Nothing in that conversation made any sense to me. The guys kids didn’t seem to be hurt physically because there they were swinging from the stage curtains in our chapel just fine during the entire conversation and carrying on like they were raised in a monkey troop.

Looking back on that conversation gives me perspective now because there are people in this world who will take out their frustrations, their anger and their jealousies on our kids. Why is that? Is it because they are too afraid to face us and tell us what they are really thinking. Do they think that they are justified in mistreating our kids because of some preconceived notion that they are better than us or perhaps we are just not good enough for them?

This type of behavior is uncouth, it is juvenile, it is inappropriate. And for me to say this seems hypocritical because for many years I couldn’t stand being around kids; even after I had my own kids! But something changed along the way and I can honestly say that I enjoy being around kids. I enjoy the simplicity of their interactions. I love the fact that their minds are untainted by the stupidity, arrogance and despicable behavior of adults.

I have worked as a volunteer with young men and women for all of my adult life. It is a tough and sometimes discouraging job because you see what these young people go through. Their struggles are ten times the struggles that I endured at their age and yet they do their best to maintain all aspects of their lives only to be criticized, ignored and sometimes debased by adults who either can’t stand the kid, or have a personal vendetta against the child’s parents.

As an adult, if you loathe a child for whatever reason, suck it up and don’t make that child feel like they are not a human being. A child (from infants to 18-year-olds) lacks the understanding and experience of how to conduct themselves in many situations. Don’t condemn that kid for climbing on your sofa when all they know is that it’s okay to climb on their furniture at home and they haven’t been told that it’s not okay to do it in someone else’s home. It’s not okay to detest a kid simply because some of the things they say or do drives you nuts. You’re the adult, deal with it as a responsible adult should.

If you hate that child’s parents, don’t be a coward and take it out on the kid because it shows your lack of character and the lack of a spine. If any of my sons come home and says, ‘Timmy’s mom called me a SOB after I tried my best to be nice and help out. I don’t know what I did wrong.’ It’s going to make me the angriest Samoan you’ve ever encountered if I hear words like that come from my kids mouth because my kids (or any kids for that matter) don’t deserve to be treated that way. If you can’t stand me or Super Mom, than tell us and we’ll graciously and carefully avoid having any contact with you and we won’t waste another thought on you.

Am I fired up? Hell yes I’m fired up because I see it happen all the time. It’s happened to my sons and I’m sick of it. I’m sick of adults acting like children and children being treated like stray dogs. But most of all, I’m sick of people treating other people like they are second class citizens. Grow up!

17 thoughts on “Don’t take it out on their kids

      1. I had to come back to re-read this post because what you wrote had been weighing on my heart (your blogs have that effect on me). I know too many people in these parts that have a predisposition about minorities (I’m trying to be nice with words). I’ve never experienced such prejudices when I grew up and even on the west coast. It’s DIFFERENT out east, COMPLETELY different. I lost my gentle and soft exterior because of the wall I’ve built over the years. It still exists, but beneath this rough, mean mugging exterior. It’s like a forcefield. In these parts, it’s saved my life many of times. Now it’s the reason I want to head back west. I don’t like this wall I’ve built, but it’s made me stronger yet guarded. let me stop rambling.

        Again, Thanks for another great post Seti.

      2. Funny how attitudes and opinions vary from region to region here in our country. Congrats on finding a way to fight through it. Always good to read your thoughts/comments.

  1. Another great post Seti. Thank you for giving me things to think about this weekend. My little son just came back from a long stay in Samoa and I need to remember many of your points mentioned in this one.

    1. Thanks Lani – it’s one of those things where I just can’t hold back when people are taking it out on the kids. Believe me, I learned some valuable lessons about this.

  2. I think that’s why so many kids today are struggling with self-esteem issues. I watched my husband’s ex use her daughter against my hubs for years, until this beautiful little girl grew up and put a stop to things…BUT, she has scars and is caught between knowing who her mother really is and the fact that she’s her mother. I know this is a different scenario, but her mother “took out” her anger and hatred for her ex-husband on her daughter and then we were left to clean up the emotional crap it has had on this sweet girl. Adults often forget that they are adults and place their own agendas first without any regard to the, sometimes, irrepairable damage they leave in their selfish wake…Excellent post!

    1. Mary, good point. And yes, I totally agree with your statement that people often overlook the emotional damage on their own kids when they put their own drama and feelings ahead of what’s best for the innocent children. I see it all the time. They would rather throw their kid off a cliff to prove a point to an Ex-spouse/partner. Definitely something to think about. Thanks and good luck on your continued service to your step daughter.

  3. Great post Uso. My wife and I enjoy your posts. They always seem to put life in perspective. Keep up the good work and we look forward to reading more from you.

  4. Another great post Uso. My wife and I enjoy reading your posts. They put life in perspective and make us aware of the most important people in our lives, our chilren. Keep up the good work and we can’t wait for the next post.

  5. Add my amen. Great post about a great point. I too have seen this far too often. And, similar to Mary’s husband’s ex, my own ex has used my children as substitute targets for her anger (real or imagined) at me. Not fair, always confusing to them, and completely undeserved.

    Love your writing, but the points you make are even better.

  6. I personally experienced this as a teenager, when my teacher, pulled me in and accused me of having my mum write the essay I had handed in. This was the first example of my work that this teacher had seen. Ever. However she felt intrinsically that I must have had my mum help me. Apparently it was ‘too good’ to be written by a 17-year-old. I defended myself and asked her to speak to my other teachers about the quality of my work. She said ‘Well I guess I’ll have to believe you’ and then gave me mark which was barely a pass. Despite this essay being ‘too good’ to have been written by someone at my level.

    I couldn’t understand this and of course spoke to my parents. It turns out this particular teacher had been at nursing school when my parents were at university (well before I was born) and my parents best guess was that she must have felt snubbed because the nursing students were not allowed to join the University’s Samoan Student Association which (as you can guess from the name) was for university students. So over 2 decades years later (yes over 20 years… talk about holding a grudge) she was accusing me of cheating. I know I am not perfect and no doubt there are many people who have issues with me. I hope they will have the courage to take this up with me. If they don’t I wonder how I will deal with them taking it out on my child. I am guessing, not very well!!!

    1. This is a classic example of how people adults behave like children. I had a similar experience when I was in school. She (my teacher) gave me a passing grade but asked me to write the next essay during class time. I did and passed again without any obvious assistance. From that day on, she become one of my advocates and mentors. Thanks for your comments and soldier on – it looks like you’ve done well for yourself ; )

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