Ignoring My Kids — For Their Own Good

Why Our 'Look at Me!' Culture Is So Wrong

thinkstock

By Jordana Horn

Published February 02, 2014, issue of February 07, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

‘Mom! Hey, Mom! Look at me!”

“Look at me!” has probably been a refrain of parenting small children since the days of “Mom! Look at the drawing of oxen I made on the wall of the cave!” It can seem constant: “Mom! Look how high I can go on the swing!”; “Dad! Come look at my drawing!”; “Mom! Look at me! I’m standing on my tippy toes!” And in the age of the iPhone camera, we as parents can easily capture all these adorable moments and send them out to friends and family, and post them on Facebook — which basically is the adult way of saying: “Look at me!”

Implicit in all our exhibitionism and “Take pics or it didn’t happen!” culture is the idea that it’s the acknowledgment from the outside world that makes an endeavor worthwhile.

As a parent, I think that’s dangerous, and I want to try to stop it in my own home.

Don’t get me wrong: It’s hard for me to retreat. I adore each one of my (five) kids. Through the rose-colored glasses of my adoration, they are all little geniuses, even the 3-month-old. But if I leap to obey each time I am told to “look at me” — or applaud them for everything they do — they will have a distorted sense of what “accomplishment” really is.

These days, parenting means schlepping to games and meets and performances hours away. It even means sitting through practices for these displays of “skill,” often in quotes: “Mom, did you see that catch I made?” Oy.

I have a sneaking suspicion that all this “Look at me!” is more than just narcissistic — it’s self-defeating. Because if a kid feels that her actions have no worth until they’re observed and applauded by someone else, then how can she develop an inner compass? How can my son develop a sense of what gives him personal satisfaction if doing a good job hinges on my attendance or approval?

In other words, it shouldn’t be the stamp of my eyeball or my presence that makes something worth doing or accomplishing. It’s the personal satisfaction of having done your best that conveys real worth, and self-worth.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.