Your Children are Boring by Tom James

My neighbor has an adorable three-year-old son, so adorable that you just have to smile whenever you see him. However, I had to unsubscribe from seeing the mother’s news updates because every single day she posts the boy’s photo while eating, standing, sitting, sleeping… with captions such as “The love of my soul, my heart, my soul, love you to the moon and back, look how handsome I am, say Hi, cutie…” And regardless of how fond I am of the little guy and his mom, I don’t want to roll my eyes whenever I waste my time on social media. That young mom isn’t an exception ‒ I had to hide posts of almost all my parent-friends from my news feed. Not only are they boring, but if I was a mother, maybe I would start wondering if my love for my child is big enough if I don’t post photos of the unsuspecting child, without its consent and knowledge, on the Internet. Hmm, did parents raise their kids good enough and love them enough before social media? That isn’t my only complaint about modern parents. A few months ago, a mother with a child sitting in the shopping cart was in the line in front of me. And the child was repeatedly kicking me. When I asked the mother to do something, she behaved like I was a monster instead of telling her child that it isn’t okay to kick people.

There are many more examples of modern parents behaving like bores, fools, and even jerks. There were even occasions when mothers behaved like they were better human beings than me just because they have offspring, unlike me. Don’t get me wrong, I adore children, but having a child isn’t exactly rocket science ‒ people and animals are doing it since the beginning of time, and it certainly doesn’t mean that parents are better than people without kids.

If you have ever shared my thoughts, then you must read Your Children are Boring by Tom James. Mr. Tom says: “If you are child-free and angry at how the wonder of parenting is rammed down your throat, there’s every chance you’ll find an ally in one of your friends who has kids. Many will agree with you, and at least be sympathetic. And some may even be mortified if they suspect they’ve contributed to it… Common ground should be found, and conversations might begin. Despite the title of this book, the aim isn’t to create a schism.” And if you are a parent, it is your duty to read it.

Your Children are Boring is, first of all, a hilarious book, “funniest book of the year!” It is crazy to claim that one nation is more humorous than another but there definitely is something about English humor. And that means that you will roar with laughter while reading James’ examples of how modern parents ruin everything. But when the laughter dies down, you will think about what he said because he didn’t just crack jokes in his book. Oh, no, if it was only a collection of jokes, the book would hardly be worth mentioning. However, James outlined some very serious issues about our modern society but, thankfully, did it humorously.

I will skip the funny parts since the humor dilutes with retelling, but I must mention a few things to highlight how useful this book actually is when you scrape away the sugar coating.

“We used to call this sort of mindless indulgence of children ’spoiling’. Now, we call it modern parenting… Where might it end? The unwavering acceptance of all their thoughts and desires will teach them nothing about life’s realities, about how to function and learn as a human… unable to accept criticism or instruction and yet desperately struggling to be understood.”

No matter how hard it is to refuse a child, parents should always know the little cutie will become a teenager and an adult one day. Indulgence doesn’t provide children with the necessary mindset to tackle school, studying, friendship, partnership… in short ‒ life. And if a child doesn’t learn the basic skills when it is young, it will have a hard time with everything afterward. So, modern parents should ask themselves: What is more important ‒ a smile from a spoiled brat now or a happy, fulfilled, independent adult later?

“Might raising children to expect a world full of mummies result in us having a whole generation of indoor cats? A population of humans so incapable of dealing with the reality that they can only live a life of misery?”

It would be great, for the children’s sake, if parents would learn to make a difference between their children not being ready for natural life lessons and themselves not being ready to make their little ones a bit uncomfortable or upset. Children are excellent actors and they like to test their power over other human beings from a young age. My ex-boyfriends’ sister would scream and bang her head on the floor until she got what she wanted. Needless to say that today she is a bitter woman who doesn’t understand why all her relationships with lovers, friends, colleagues, and relatives are horrible.

And there are many more examples of parents doing their children a bear’s favor, as we would say in Serbia, by indulging them instead of doing what every responsible parent who loves his/her child should do. Sure the child is ready to stop wearing nappies, to brush its teeth, and put that plate back on the table. It’s not like you are sending the child to the army, you are just teaching it normal, necessary life skills.

“And as you get older, you’ll wonder why your little prince/princess is now a fifty-year-old narcissist who lives in squalor in your basement waiting for you to die. But, boy, won’t they love you? Actually, that’s extremely unlikely. As they contemplate their life while Call of Duty loads, they’ll blame you for everything because (a) it probably is your fault, and (b) they’ve had a lifetime of lessons in it not being their fault.”

Yes, that may seem very far away, but what a child gets used to in its early childhood paves the way to its adult-self. Nobody is suggesting that you should force your child, say, to sit for hours at the table until it eats everything like Enid from Franzen’s The Corrections did to Chip, to chop wood as a seven-year-old, to accept mature responsibilities as a ten-year-old… but responsibilities and limits are very important, regardless of how much children dislike them.

The bottom line is that this book, no matter how funny, is a must-read for parents and future parents alike, as well as for child-free folks who are wondering why their friends who have become parents are behaving strangely. Not only will you laugh to tears but you will end armed with valuable insights for being a better parent and your child will be grateful one day even if it is pouting with dissatisfaction at the moment.

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