Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Saving Face

I have never, ever in my entire life liked the Asian thing of "saving face". I know other cultures have their version of it - in any form, I find it rank and useless.

Recently I was sitting (maybe a week or so ago - losing count of things with the lack of sleep) in Relief Society and listening to a lesson. My favorite teacher Allison, no longer teaches us, she was recruited by the early morning seminary students. She is the type of teacher we all need. She's real, down-to-earth and doesn't do any of the holier-than-thou stuff that drives me crazy.

It just so happened that this lesson started to border on the "we are Mormon and we are so much better than the world". Which drives me bonkers because we aren't better. We have knowledge, but that doesn't matter if we don't do anything about it. We are just as flawed as anyone else. Being a Mormon doesn't come with it a "perfection" card. When people start giving lessons like that, I start feeling as though the whole room starts to feel smug about itself and begins to sneer down it's long pointed nose. It makes me want to scratch my skin off.

So naturally, I couldn't keep my mouth shut. I made a comment about how important it is for us as parents to let our kids know that we are not perfect. That we make mistakes and ...even more important than that, that we will apologize to our children and make amends to them when we hurt them. Because, let's face it... parents do hurt their children. The best intentions in the world, don't erase that, don't excuse it.

Example of this in my own home. During Christmas our oldest K (who is four and a half...she likes to remind us of this half every day) watched the old clay animation movie The Little Drummer Boy. In the movie the little drummer boy says "I hate all people". K caught on to the word 'hate' like it was the best tasting word around. So we told her that if she said that word she'd have to have a drop of hot sauce (tabasco) placed on her tongue.

What do you think happened after that?

She became even, more attentive to what my hubby and I said. And... we had no idea we used the word 'hate' for things we didn't like as much as we did. So... we were dosing our own tongues with hot sauce, and acting like it was awful, for her. She discovered that Mommys and Daddys make mistakes and that we are also held accountable to the same rules as she is. She didn't say 'hate' after that.

It has always bothered me when parents insist on pretending, saving face, or creating a facade that as a parent you automatically become perfect, or that you are blemish free. And how dare anyone even bring up the possiblity that you have ever, in your life, made a mistake. This type of behavior is misleading, dishonest and lends itself to an actual false belief that you are perfect, in this self-created world.

Why is it that as parents, the pride is so much more important than the unconditional love and empathy of a child, no matter what age? Why? Is the association with your children less valued than the lonely, souless pride?

I think that if we want our children to come to us in their times of joy, trouble, need of comfort ...and especially when they make mistakes, we need to admit, and atone for any we make towards them. I honestly believe that as parents, if we sincerely care more about what our kids think of us, than what our friends at Church, work, neighborhood...strangers...etc think of us - we'll not only be able to be better parents, we'll help our children trust us, and want to be with us.

In the end, as parents, we will all be held accountable to how we treat our little ones (entrusted to us by God)... no matter what age.

ps. Yeah, I have to apologize a lot to my babies... but I have learned, that a child is unconditionally forgiving to their parents.


~j. said...

I wish YOU were my RS teacher.

AzĂșcar said...

I think it's VERY important to sincerely apologize to your child when you've done something that is not right. It teaches them that there is no shame in apologizing and that it's important to own up to making mistakes.

O'Connor Family said...

I'm glad you spoke up. I talked to someone (she's mormon) who said she didn't want to go to the neighborhood block party because cocktails would be served. She literally had her nose up in the air. If I did that I would have to turn down extended family get together's, and drop half of my friends! And I never have to worry about admitting my mistakes to my son, he's at an age where he points them out to me!

Queen Scarlett said...

~J... no way jose.
Azucar ... I think more of our generation recognizes that than ones previous.
O'Connor...funny about your son. I love that kids are totally honest.

La Yen said...

I think that you rule.

And, I don't have a problem with the word hate. I just realized that. Because, you know what? I DO hate stuff. Like mangoes. And as long as we aren't using it towards other people, I am ok with it. When Jooj says I hate, I just kind of ignore it until it goes away. I don't let her say stupid, though.