Kid-parties. Once upon a time, the most dancing you did at party was “dancing round the chair” to innocent pop music. What happened to dancing your hammer-moves at parties? MC Hammer was the focus, not his background dancers. Kids today dance club-dances; it is like a miniature BET music video. I hate kid-parties because of this. I can only say about the situation in Nigeria.
Kid-parties leave a void in its participants; unless there is a dancing competition. This realization prompted me to write this post. I forgot the writing. Some (many) weeks ago I watched Lupe Fiasco’s new video Bad Bitch and Lupe captured some of what I wanted to say in a few minutes. I remembered the post but again forgot. I found it and I’m obliged to complete it. I can’t drag any longer so I will post it anyway.
Stories on Adulteration of Children
Have you heard about the 9 year old beauty pageant contestant who is tormented by hair waxing… Have your heard of the anorexics aged 3-12… Have you heard about the number of American kids on anti depressants… ?
There is a debate on kids’ beauty pageants; the negative (in my opinion) outweighs the positive. Taking a side is a moral issue. It suffice to say there is a lot of child abuse involved, dangers to child mental health, insecure parents and likelihood of child growing to be a pathological cosmetic surgery customer; among other things. Most insidious is that these children have been imposed an unhealthy worldview: a world where carnal beauty and competition make the world go round.
Childhood experiences indeed steer the direction of an adult’s life, significantly.
A lot of these experiences of children are influenced by their parent’s psychology and ethics; insecurities and morality. Childhood insecurities of parents could manifest as unhealthy competitiveness forced upon a child. To some extent, the pressure on a child can be excusable. That may be true for beauty pageants but what about dancing? Dancing is the issue of this post anyway.
The reason adults like to see their kids dancing (which is seldom motivated by competition as in Child Beauty Pageant) is because it’s cute, entertaining; thus “cuteness”. While in the case of competitiveness, the adult actively orchestrates (by extreme means) their child’s victory, in the case of “cuteness” the adult passively accepts an action after it happens. In the former instance, the adult is (too) active while passive in the latter.
In what may seem a simple everyday scene, there may lie a complex psychological dynamics/transactions. For instance, a child does something “cute” and then the adult laughs at it and does the easiest thing: dismiss its importance by calling it “cute”. The adult may sincerely not know how to deal with it or may be looking for an easy way out in their reaction. Insight into psychology is therefore important.
Whereas in competitive situations, adults could be seen as enforcers, in “cute” situations adults could be seen as enablers. Many adults enablers appear easy-going when it comes to denying kids doing something the kids already want to do (in this case, dancing). Well that is true only if we disregard child-psychology. The passivity of adults translates into activism from the perspective of child psychology.
Humans as social creatures interact. Arguably, the most famous currency of this interaction is attention. We seek attention in subtle ways but when we don’t get it we resolve to dramas. That is why a baby cries LOUD to protest, given his/her limited vocabulary. As a child grows something interesting happens; the child learns to express themselves but nevertheless cries to attract attention. Similarly the well articulated spouse makes a scene rather than “articulate” the issues. This tells us two things: first such ways of seeking attention are effective; second such patterns of thinking become a habit.
They say black babies are born with rhythm. I would have like to use that to justify my inclination towards music but understanding the difference between Nature and Nurture provides a more reasonable version of this statement: Black parents love music, communicate this to their black kids (as cute), and black kids use this cuteness to purchase attention (starting with their parents).
Now back to dancing in parties. Let me propose what is actually happening. Child is born in a black family. Child learns to cry to get attention. Child is exposed to music (not lullaby) and dance. Child dances and Child receives attention from parents for being “cute”. Child loves to dance and parents think Child simply enjoys dancing. Parents allow/expose adult-club songs to child because someone is always watching at home. Parents see this picture is simply “cute” since it is a child. Child impresses parents with new moves learnt from the latest music videos. Child is summoned to demonstrate new moves to uncles and aunties; child becomes a family star. Child now has a habit and see’s the world against him/her when asked not to dance when older, indignant from being exploited for former glories of “cuteness”.
The Fascist or Liberal Parent
The logical question is which type of parenting should one adopt, strict or easy-going? Would one be a strict disciplinarian or a do-what-u-like parent… or something in between? Would you monitor your teenage children’s movement or would you let them have fun until they come to their senses (Assuming the parent actually wishes to have responsible children). Unfortunately the options between the two extremes are merely treating the symptom; symptom of an issue from childhood.
The solution is to understand child psychology and carefully select which habits/behaviors you would like to encourage/discourage using the currency of attention. If you want a child to be a dancer (among other things) then by all means “pay” the child positive attention whenever they dance; by cheering, smiling, or talking about how cute it was. What if you don’t want your baby to be hooked on dancing? Should you chastise them every time they do?
I think NO. Being a “fascist” is also treating the symptom. We are operating at psychology level here. I think the best solution is simply not to encourage it. Don’t cheer the child, don’t tell them how cute they are, don’t tell uncles and aunties how cute they were within their earshot (you gotta admit they can be quite cute in diapers).
Your Child Down the Slope
Am I saying that your child will become a whore/gangster simply by watching music videos and dancing club songs at parties? I am saying a child is much more likely to pursue any life path that has a worldview compatible with the worldview the parents instill, psychologically (by giving positive attention). And if they become a whore/gangster, they will surely enjoy the attention they get from their careers.