Waiting for my children to emerge from their classrooms the first week of school I spied a young boy exit the gates and look around for his parents, who undoubtedly came to gather him home. His shirt read, "I have a million excuses. Which one would you like to hear?" I say nothing of this lad and place the burden of none of my remaining thoughts on the subject on his young and wholly innocent shoulders. But immediately my mind reeled toward the as yet unknown parents, not in judgement but in wishing I could help them comprehend something regarding it. As the child still found himself in elementary school, the adults around him had undoubtedly purchased the shirt and allowed him to wear it. I recognize that in some manners it might seem a harmlessly amusing idea, but think of this-
What mentality do we create for our children in encouraging messages of that nature? What are we teaching our children to expect of themselves? How are we teaching them to live their lives and what kind of citizens are we helping create in them? How will that kind of mentality affect them later in life and in attaining and keeping a job? How will it affect them now in school? Are we setting them up for success or devastating failure and a distorted sense of lackadaisical entitlement? The mind is a powerful instrument and it learns attitudes from seemingly small means around us.
During the baby shower for my daughter, I received a rather humorous present. It was a pink outfit with the words "Does this diaper make my butt look big?" I laughed along with everyone else as it was clever and amusing, but never once did I put it on my infant. One may argue that there would be no harm since she clearly couldn't read, but the attitude that accompanied the acceptance of such an idea was not one I wanted my darling little girl learning. I wanted to teach her from the beginning that her body was sacred and beautiful, and that she would do best to glory in who she was rather than worry about who she was not or about fitting a specified mold. Call me a neurotic mother but if I welcomed such ideas into my daughter's life at so early an age I could hardly be surprised if she ended up with an eating disorder later. Besides, aren't there far better messages I could send her?
I do not intend to shame, insult or injure any parent. I am grateful that the parents of said nameless kid from school clearly supplied him with clean clothes and appropriate shoes. I would merely point out that those subtle things in parenting can catch up with our kids later, that they have more of an effect on their growing minds than we sometimes believe, and that children are precious gifts of God, fully deserving our most passionate devotion and meticulous mental and spiritual care.