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!
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • 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.