News Flash: Kids Should Be Allowed To Be Human Too

by Dorathy Gass
Paul Biris / Getty

I love the the bumper sticker below because it screams my life. I have two busy, passionate, fierce, and wild little girls I’m raising. I’m proud of the many different accomplishments and milestones they have achieved in their short and young lives, and yes, they are “good,” for the most part, but can be little assholes at times too. Whether you are talking at home, at school, or anywhere else.

In the land of social media, everyone’s kids are “perfect” these days. Photos splash all over Instagram and Facebook of our kids receiving school awards, winning metals during sports meets, cuddling with their friends and pets, doing chores, and being sweet little angels.

Having said that, I’m guilty of posting these “perfect” photos of my kiddos, weekly (if not daily). Hey, why mess with the cute “perfect” social media photo formula, right?

Still, the reality is, no kid is “perfect;” not mine, not yours, not the neighbor’s child down the street who constantly has a smile on their face and remembers to always say their pleases and thank yous.

And it is a hard reality for some parents to deal with, knowing their kids can be a little asshole at times. There’s an excuse, a reasoning behind it, a justification. Truth is, you can blame sleep, social conflict, puberty, or poor dietary choices that day to justify poor choices.

Still, our kids aren’t perfect, because of a combination of the above, as well as the fact that they are human … little humans to be exact. Even the nicest of us adults can be assholes too at times — even (gasp) me (but please don’t tell my husband this).

Do we, as adults, always make the right decision? Are we always at our kindest? Can stress, lack of sleep, anxiety, or worry affect our “perfect” behavior? Absolutely! And while our kids may not have the same daily routines we do, they still have their own ruts, their own reasoning, and their own personal issues they are working through that prohibit perfection on a 24/7 basis.

See, I was once a parent who struggled with the concept of having “good” kids (who were sometimes little assholes), especially once both of my daughters started school. I constantly worried about my children’s behavior being judged by other people, parents, and peers: parent shaming could be a post in itself.

Before school, being a work-at-home mom, I was with my kiddos all the time. I could correct certain behaviors or negative influences from the get-go. Once I shipped them off to school, I no longer had the control of seeing what they did six hours of the day, and being able to immediately reprimand anything I perceived as negative. I simply had hoped that they would make the best decisions possible while at school: to turn their cheek when someone was being mean, stand up to a bully when they saw their friends being hurt, always be kind to classmates and other peers (regardless), and simply do good.

The reality? Yes, my kids try to do good and are as kind as they can be. They help teachers out, they help classmates out; they hug their friends when they are sad, cheer them on when they are in competition, hold their hands walking down the hall for support. But my kids are also human, well, little humans, and sometimes they make bad choices. Sometimes they don’t always choose to turn the other cheek when someone is mean and sometimes they aren’t always the first to volunteer and do good. Sometimes a classmate rubs them the wrong way and instead of taking the high road, they let them know it. Sometimes they snap at peers, and sometimes they have to be reminded to clean up their lunch or stop talking in class. At times, they have also sat and watched other students hurt their friends’ feelings; because, they simply didn’t know what to say or do.

They are only 6 and 9. They have just started to learn about social situations. They are only just embarking on what hopefully will be some productive and incredible lives.

I used to get frustrated with them for not making a good choice; we always discuss our day around the dinner table. Stories are sometimes fun things their teachers have done that day – but as the girls have been getting up in the grades, social conflict has been the main topic for both. So-called “bullies,” mean friends and kids, friends being pushed around by dominant personalities in the class; this has seemed to be the center of discussion this past year when it came to dinner chats.

As much as I wanted to meddle in their little lives, force the idea of being good and kind – it dawned on me that, even though they are little, cute, and children are meant to be sweet, the truth is, they also are human. How are they to know exactly the perfect way of handling a situation when it becomes reality for the first time in their lives? Sure, we’ve read books on being kind, making good choices, supporting friends, etc., but when something happens in real-time, for the first time, the girls have made choices that have made my heart melt … and other times, I have cringed when hearing them relay their little “asshole” decisions back to me.

Still, through the cringing, I had an epiphany.

At the age of 41, I’m nowhere near perfect – I make mistakes (that make me cringe) daily. Why was I expecting them to always make the right and perfect choice in almost every situation they had been placed in? Why do they always have to be in a happy-go-lucky mood? The daily grind gets to me; why can’t it affect them as well, once in a while?

Sure, our household mantra is to “choose kindness,” and I’m not going against that, but isn’t it even a struggle for us adults to “always be kind” under the hardest of situations? Haven’t we all been assholes at one (or more) times in our lives? I get the need to not want your children to make the same mistakes you did, but they will only learn through making good and bad decisions in their lives.

So, I have two great kids, who make good choices, but are also little assholes sometimes too. We still talk through choices, instances, and discuss what they both have learned from good or bad actions. But, what kind of parent would I be if I only supported and loved them during their good choices, but not their bad? How else are they to navigate through life without mistakes to learn from? How will they get to know who they truly are, if I don’t allow them to experience the good, bad, and the ugly within their personalities — and love them the entire way through it. How can they take in and truly explore life, if they are confined to a little box of perfection, daily? It just isn’t healthy any way you stack it up.

My girls are human; they do good, they do bad, they are inspired and sometimes, they inspire others. And I am as proud of their school awards and sports metals, as the mistakes they have made that will help shape them into perfectly imperfect responsible and amazing adults.

Yup, proud parent of two fierce little ladies, who sometimes can be little assholes, too … and that’s okay.