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The Most Worrisome Time of the Year
Earlier this week I posted a link to this commercial that I find rather offensive. I decided it should be the topic for my weekly syndicated column. Here it is!

I’ve always believed that the Most Wonderful Time of the Year was Christmas, but according to a certain office supply chain, it’s actually right now. The kids “are going BAAAACCCK!” Joyous parents jump through the aisles collecting school supplies. Parents are getting rid of their kids; what could be better?

Excuse me? I know summer can be tough. Finding childcare for two months is a challenge. Even if one parent is at home, having kids around constantly is a lot of work, because without the school year routine, they often get lazy and grumpy and bicker more. It’s only natural to yearn for a return to normality.

But that doesn’t mean that we should be ecstatic about getting away from our kids. And if this particular emotion actually does sell back-to-school items, what does that say about us as a society? Parents consider kids a big bother, and would be infinitely grateful if they would just go away.

Is that how we really feel? If children are a hassle, though, rather than a blessing, I’m not sure that this is our children’s fault. Could it be that we have abandoned the parts of parenting that make it tolerable, and forgotten the parts that make it fun?

While on vacation last week I watched Supernanny. It’s hard to imagine the chaos these parents put up with. Their children do not obey them, refuse to go to bed, hit them, swear at them, and tear up the house, let alone urinating on neighbours’ lawns. Parents’ lives are consumed by responding to what their children do. That’s a lot of work! The nanny shows them is that if they work at basic discipline, parenting is so much easier and much more fun.

Many people love their kids, but they don’t like being with them because they’ve inadvertently trained them to be brats. It is up to us as parents to teach kids limits and appropriate behaviours. If they’re bothering you because the house is always a mess, teach them to clean it up. If they’re always loud and beating each other up and getting into fights and crying, don’t put up with it. Issue one warning and then take away privileges. If we put in the work to parent, maybe we wouldn’t resent the kids so much because they wouldn’t be holy terrors.

However, there’s another side to the parenting equation than just learning to discipline. We also need to learn to play. In our age of entertainment, we like doing what we want to do. We don’t want to do what a 4-year-old wants to do, so our response to children who want one-on-one time is to mollify them with some treat just so they will go away. That’s a mistake. The best joy in life, I believe, is found in a stable family that truly loves each other. Such love is not born automatically of genetics. It’s found in spending time together and building memories. That doesn’t mean you don’t have a life; it just means that every so often, you need to step into your children’s lives to show them that you care.

If we loved our kids like that, perhaps September would no longer feel like the most wonderful time of the year. It would be a mixed bag of hope and excitement for our children’s upcoming opportunities, and sadness at the passage of time. They grow up so quickly. Let’s raise them well and hug them while we have them. For us parents, these are, after all, the most wonderful years of our lives.


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8 Comments:

At 10:21 AM , Blogger Kimberly said…

I always count back to school, as one of my favorite days of the year. After a 3 month break from school and sports, my children are so ready to return to school, and seeing their friends daily.

We live in a small rural community, and your neighbor, may be miles away...I always bake a big cake on school day, and threaten to dance when the bus comes, but the truth is they all enjoy school, and the routine it has, i enjoy the time it gives me to play with the 1 & 3 year old at home.

We have 9 children in the home and it is hard to carve out one on one time with so many people going in so many directions all the time, but we make an effort to regularly spend time alone with each child. School helps us focus on being more organized.

 

At 10:57 AM , Blogger Nancy said…

I usually choose not to voice my opinion when something offends me, but after your August 30 post about this commercial, I sent this e-mail to the said company. "I think it is very sad that parents think that this is "the most wonderful time of the year". It always tore my heart out every day when my children were in school, and I had to leave them with another adult all day long. This is one of the reasons I chose to homeschool. Why would parents have children that they can't wait to get rid of? I love having my children around me, and I love being the one that sees the joy in their eyes when they learn something new. I wouldn't trade it for the world."

This is the reply I received. "Ms. Burcaw:

I thank you for taking the time to write to us regarding our latest TV campaign. It is only with feedback from our valued customers that STAPLES can become an even better retailer and communicator.

You'll probably be very surprised to hear this, but the 'Most Wonderful Time of the Year' is our campaign that draws the highest number of repeat requests of any other. The original spot ran in 1994/1995.

Prior to the decision to return to the 'Most Wonderful Time of the Year,' we did extensive research with our customers to confirm that it was the right choice for the business. Once the campaign is over, we will again gauge how it was received this year.

We, as a company, hold our customers in high regard and your opinions and suggestions are an important part of making our business successful. We'd love to add you to our online panel for future surveys, if you'd be willing to participate. Please let me know if you're interested and I'll send your e-mail address onto our research team.

Thanks again for contacting us and sharing your views.

Sincerely,

Sandy Salmon

Director of Advertising"

Maybe more of us should let our voices be heard. Have a great day!

 

At 11:06 AM , Blogger Sheila said…

Nancy,

Way to go! I just sent my comment off, too. Should have done it earlier.

I think if more are to write, we should probably take the tack: "I know these commercials are popular, but do you really want to associate yourself with denigrating the benefits of parenting, and insulting children?"

My own informal poll of kids said that the kids were offended, even if adults thought it was funny. I just think it's sad.

 

At 12:44 PM , Blogger Terry @ Breathing Grace said…

Am I the only one who actually MISSED my kids when they went back to school? I hope not.

 

At 2:39 PM , Anonymous Dena Dyer said…

Sheila, I totally admire and respect you, but I have to disagree here. I think the commercial is really funny, not offensive.

I absolutely love my kids, and enjoy them tremendously, but I'm also an introvert and enjoy my time alone. I love the structure and routine of the school year, and my kids go to a great school where they are being taught godly values. So I think we have the best of both worlds. After three months of a hot Texas summer, they are both ready to be away from each other a bit, and be with friends their own age. We were ALL (not just the parents) excited to see school starting.

That said, I did cry and wander about the house a bit this last week when my kindergartner went to school for the first time. I miss his presence, and it's bittersweet. I am glad he's thriving, and in a wonderful environment, but I'm sad that he's not my "baby" anymore.

I think we can treasure our children and thank God for them, and at the same time be okay with time away from them...it doesn't make us bad moms if we enjoy being away from them at times.

 

At 11:58 PM , Blogger Amanda said…

There's absolutely nothing wrong with needing some "me" time. However, it breaks my heart when moms are so ready to be away from their children for 180 days of the year. I know not everyone can homeschool and I'm ok with that. What bothers me is when moms voice how joyous they are about the beginning of school right in front of their children!! What kind of message does that send to their kids? The very least they could do is put a positive spin on it. Just my $.02 worth.

 

At 1:01 PM , Blogger Kara said…

With the exception of a few kids who do go to boarding school... this is hardly that big a deal. The kids are not being separated for a full 180 days, but rather a mere 6 hours of a school day.
Yes, I agree that some parents have trained their kids poorly, and can blame themselves for not enjoying their company - but that is not only the case.
I joke about this commercial with my kids a lot, but I also tell them how much I love them, and that I really am going to miss them. I feel that a little playful banter is healthy.
My kids know that it is actually a lot more work for me when they do go back, making lunches, getting them ready, and helping with homework.
Learning to be able to distinguish when something is said in jest, and not taking things too personally is something that will carry them through life.

 

At 1:21 PM , Blogger Amanda said…

Kara, you are one of the exceptions though. I've heard many moms talk about how they couldn't wait for school to start because the kids had driven them crazy all summer and they were ready for a break. I was referring to the moms that don't say it as a joke and certainly don't follow it w/ an "I love you." And I agree, learning to take things in jest is always a good thing. :) Humor will get you through many things in life.

 
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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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