Kids Should Be Seen and Not Heard

Raisin’ Kids

Kids should be seen and not heard.

I usually only heard this when there was a get-together at our house. I didn’t understand what it meant then, but now I know it was something my parents said when they wanted to have an uninterrupted conversation.

Because I was born sensitive and contemplative I questioned this aphorism. Why should kids be seen and not heard, I thought. What does that even mean?

I thought it was some sort of universal law, like the sun rises in the morning and sets at night. But it didn’t make sense to me because I could talk, and if I could talk why wasn’t I allowed to? How old did I have to be before I could talk? Why could I talk some of the time but not all of the time? When was it appropriate to talk, and how would I know when it was?

The funny thing is, I never asked my parents any of these questions. If I had, I wonder what they would have said. Would they have brushed me off, telling me “it’s just a saying”? Can you imagine how a kid like me would have dissected that? Were they aware that it’s not “just a saying” but that it has a deeper meaning? Were they conscious of its deeper meaning or did they only know that they wanted me to leave them alone?

In a perfect world my parents would have mentored me, explaining that they needed time to connect with their friends uninterrupted, and that it had nothing to do with my being a kid. In a perfect world they would have coached me on respect and etiquette instead of using a tired old cliche’.

When you’re in a learning phase the pendulum always swings too far to the other side at first, and with my own kids I tend to explain too much to them. Because I always wanted answers as a kid I assume they do too, but sometimes they’ll say, “Uhhhh, TMI Mom!”. I’m working on toning it down, but I firmly believe that all kids would benefit from being mentored, not dismissed.

2 Responses to Kids Should Be Seen and Not Heard

  1. My Mom said this many times to me, until I learned it. I felt unworthy of speaking in front of adults clear into my twenties and somewhat into my thirties. I started questioning why I was so uncomfortable speaking with “adults” when I chronologically was an adult. I didn’t feel like one, yet I was about 24 and a divorced Mom. Plenty of adultness there! I, too, let the pendulum swing too far the other way and just let my daughter talk away. I tried to teach her to not interrupted and I may have said this cliché’ ounce or twice out of desperation, but not much more than that. I wish I had known to “mentor” rather than hit either of the far swings of the pendulum, but I didn’t know what that looked like. I didn’t have those tools and didn’t know where to get them.

    • Please don’t beat yourself up Kathy! Forgive yourself instead because you did the best you could. You did better than your Mom, and your kids will do better than theirs 😉 That’s the way it goes. Thanks so much for the input.

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