Mama Bear: a well-meaning mother who scolds teachers, shames coaches, and “helps” other parents by delivering never-ending advice about how to protect her kids.
Dear Mama Bear…..
You are 2018’s Helicopter Mom. I know. You desperately want to save the next generation from the evils of volunteer coaches, minimum-wage lifeguards, and teachers who yell.
Please stop. You are teaching your kids to be very afraid. Also self-righteous. We don’t need more of either of those.
First, about the “protecting.” You are teaching your kids that the world is very scary. Your kids want to please you. They will dutifully learn to be scared.
Here ares some life examples from our corner of the suburbs…..
Mama Bear: “When I saw that Girl Scout leader was serving chicken nuggets that had been sitting out, I told her my child wasn’t eating any.”
Mama Bear: “I told my son that if the coach doesn’t give him a batting helmet, he doesn’t have to play.”
Mama Bear: “I’ve said to my kids that we will not jump at any trampoline park that hires employees who don’t pay attention.”
Moms, our job is to raise the next generation to bravely serve their communities, to conquer their fears, to advocate for the truly marginalized, and to love those who need it the most. Kids cannot do that if they are afraid someone is trying to poison them with chicken nuggets.
But, Mama Bears, there’s a bigger problem here. You are killing kindness in your kids by setting up a volatile relationship between your child and the rest of society.
This is the constant refrain from these well-meaning moms:
Mama Bear: “So, I emailed the principal and explained how he is shaming my child.”
Mama Bear: “When I heard that the teacher yelled at my child, I was up there before the end of the day, informing her that she has no right to treat my baby like that.”
Mama Bear: “I stayed after practice and let the coach have it for making our kids stay out there in the rain.”
Kindness is the exact opposite of self righteousness. It is humbleness. It is sacrifice. It’s not teaching your kid to repay yelling with yelling. It’s the golden rule of treating others like you want to be treated.
But most of all, kindness is grace.
Because here is the truth…we are all so flawed. Teachers lose their tempers. Coaches shame the slow kids. The Girl Scout Leader has a migraine and zero patience. That one mom forgot to invite your kid to the movie night. Lifeguards don’t see it when the pool-bully dunks your daughter.
There is something you can do. Every single person in your path needs your grace.
The teacher who wrongly accused your kid of talking during the math test? Just skip the angry voicemail. The reality is that your kid probably was talking yesterday. She’s fine.
The losing basketball coach who doesn’t do the drills you suggested? Instead of holding him after practice to tell him how to do his job, sit in the stands and cheer for your daughter’s team.
The kid who called your daughter a four-letter word at recess? Calling his mom is probably not going to change much. In fact, you will be the punchline of that mom’s joke. Four-letter words aren’t a big deal in their house. This is what diversity looks like.
And the mom who is serving cheese with a bit of mold on the corner? She doesn’t know and she is just doing her best. Scrape off the moldy bit and eat it. You won’t die, I promise. Plus you will have taught your kid a little about being a gracious guest, about the resilience of her immune system, and–most importantly–about being kind.
Let’s all chill-out a bit and see what happens….