Aesop’s quote, “familiarity breeds contempt,” is puzzling to say the least. The quote could be applied in many different situations but when applied to children and parents I think it means the more you come in contact with someone, the more comfortable you are with them.
As an example: When you have a visitor in your home, you are less comfortable with them. You want to see to their needs, offer them a glass of water and maybe seat them in your favorite chair. With this same person you would not want to burp or pass gas or be seen in your underwear.
When it comes to our own children though we don’t mind so much if we do any of the previously mentioned faux pas because they’ve heard, smelled or seen it already… we are comfortable with it. This comfort zone also allows us to say things to our child we wouldn’t say to a neighbor or stranger—hurtful things.
My daughter’s friend had a mother who taught school in our community. While visiting one day the mother was looking over her daughter’s classwork from the previous day. Unexpectedly, she tapped her daughter on her head sharply and began scolding her for errors marked wrong. I asked her, “How can you treat your daughter that way? Do you hit children in your class for their errors?” She laughed saying, “But she is my daughter!”
So, that made it okay to hit her daughter on the head and berate her in front of others? Hmmm… I rest my case.
Now how can we fix this comfort level? There’s an old saying, ‘treat company like family and family like company.’ Simply being mindful of our comfort levels and how they affect our behavior can make a difference. Our homes should be one of the kindest, most relaxing places in the world for our children. This is day one— start from here.
Talk with a Volunteer or Find a Group in New Jersey:
1-800-843-5437 or 1-800-THE-KIDS
Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
Jackie Saulmon Ramirez has served as a volunteer with Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc. for more than twenty years, giving and getting support. Jackie writes these ‘Reminders’ for parents who attend the online support groups. The groups are found at www.pa-of-nj.org every Wednesday 9 p.m. and Thursday 12 Noon. To receive the ‘Reminder,’ send her a message below. Website: www.JackieSaulmonRamirez.com