Archive | December, 2014

Parenting in Spain

Posted on 23 December 2014 by American expat!

I’m not a tolerant person when it comes to poorly behaved children. So of course, I live in a country that has the most unruly children I have yet to witness in this lifetime.

Obviously, it is no fault of the children. Children will test parents; it is in human nature to test authority and to test parental love. Children want boundaries and will test them. It makes them feel secure, and it makes them feel loved. So I wonder why Spain hasn’t caught up with this parenting revelation?

My theory is that there is some Spanish parenting book, likely written 50 years ago, that people are still following as if it were law.

This dated text certainly must have told parents to ignore their children if tantrums are thrown, because that is exactly what parents do here. On a daily (and I mean DAILY) basis, some kid will have some unspeakable injustice done to him, like being put into a stroller, and you would swear that the parents were holding his hand directly to a flame. The screaming Does. Not. Stop. And the parents say not a word, despite the glares of the customers around them. Oh, did I not mention? This isn’t outside. Parents do not take their screaming children outside. They do not acknowledge said screaming moppet, they let their little monsters writhe and yell in their strollers, or more often on the restaurant or shop floor, and completely ignore them.

This continues until one of two things happens: Either 15 or 30 minutes or whatever later the parents coddle their exhausted, red faced ilk (still screaming, mind you) and act like they need some comforting, when what they need is some behavioral guidelines, not rewards for fit throwing. Or the parents leave with kiddo still screaming and kicking and then I don’t hear them anymore, so I don’t actually know what happens.

This theoretical book also covers what to do when a child has bonked their head, tripped, been punched by their brother, etc. It has parents assuming that children are brainless little beings that respond to cause and effect: something happens, they cry, so coddling must commence until crying stops. Never is any support given to the kid to let them know that they can handle the situation. Never is any child told to stop when they are clearly milking the attention from a cut on the finger for all it’s worth.

The only alternative to coddling or ignoring that I have ever seen demonstrated here is distracting. though usually this is by other people.

If you ever say anything to these parents, perhaps when you are in a restaurant and 20 minutes has gone with a child howling and twisting in their chair 5 feet away from you, the response is always the same: Shoulders are shrugged as the parent smiles and says “She’s just a child”.

This damn book has parents treating their children like dumb objects that can’t read social cues and are little more than reptiles responding to environmental stimuli. It doesn’t tell them that children understand much more than they realize, that they are extremely adaptive and clever beings who know how to manipulate situations to their benefit from a very young age. It has parents acting as if their children don’t ever look to them for behavioral guidance and security when they are uncomfortable in situations they do not like. No, this stupid book has told parents they are helpless and things just have to ride unruly behavior out.

I wonder if there really is a book. It would explain so much that bewilders so many.

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