01/08/2008 06:12 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Ladies Who Launch : Hey Parents - Time Out!

I was just on a boat in the middle of the Fiji islands talking about
having and raising kids with an attractive, successful 37-year-old
woman. Her reservations came from having watched several good friends
give birth and turn into over-obsessed, micro-managing parents. Yikes,
was her overall feeling. We all have opinions about how kids should be
treated and raised. We wince at the parents who interrupt every
conversation to tend to their child, but also shake our heads at those
who throw their kids in the back of an SUV and spend hours on their
cell phones, ignoring their mere presence. The Nanny Diaries was the
perfect example; child as accessory (but not so much human being.)
There has to be a happy medium somewhere. Lisa Gache, an etiquette
specialist for children, talks about what kids really need from their
parents -- beyond the expensive music lessons, clothing and preschools.

Ladies Who Launch: Hey Parents - Time Out!

by Lisa Gaché

Los Angeles, California

Beverly Hills Manners™

Modern Kids - Expectations for Parents Today

As an etiquette instructor, I have witnessed a fair amount of difficult
children, but on this day I was particularly surprised by the behavior
of one of the older male students in my class. It was one of the
rudest I had ever seen.

I thought I had handled it with aplomb by suggesting that he leave and
join his family in the dining room of the country club, as it was
apparent he did not want to be with us. This he did, but quickly
returned as I assumed he was scolded and forced to come back to the
class. I have had my share of challenging children in the past, but
usually with a little work I am able to turn their attitude around and
engage them with success. Unfortunately, this was not the case. I
learned that his parents were not at the club and that he was dropped
off by his aunt and uncle. They informed me afterward that their
nephew had been suffering from emotional problems.

Later on in the evening as I was departing the country club, I noticed
a family exiting the premises. The father walked ahead first looking
stoic, followed by the mother who appeared to be annoyed, and last
their daughter who had a sweet and happy-go-lucky style about her.
They were getting into their car, it was cold outside and it was dark.
The daughter called out to her mother sadly, "Mommy will you please sit
in the back seat with me? I don't want to ride by myself on the way
home." An emphatic "No!" was her mother's only answer. As they drove
away, I noticed the mother looking stone-faced out the window not even
acknowledging myself nor the other students waiting for their parents
on the curb.

My feelings for these children were of complete sadness for it was not
that they had emotional problems, rather it was that they were
suffering from lack of attention, love and nurturing. As a teacher,
unfortunately I see this all the time. Children wanting only brief
segments of time with their parents whom they adore and love only to be
shuffled to activities that parents expect will train them on all the
do's and don'ts of citizenry and proper behavior.

Parents share with me the litany of all the right things they have done
for their children:

• The best schools, beginning with pre-school

• The best art classes

• The best dance classes

• The best sports coaching

• The best manners classes

• The best musical training

• The best acting and public speaking classes

• The best tutors

• The best clothes

• The best toys

• The best birthday party celebrations

Somehow they justify that with all this training and expense, their
children will behave as little diplomats. They believe they have
provided their children with the best of everything and therefore in
return expect proper behavior, but of course this is not the case.
Instead they are met with rude and disrespectful behavior. Then they
ask, what is wrong with my child?

Oftentimes it is the good qualities that are trained right out of the
children, and when combined with a lack of any spiritual direction they
become totally defenseless in a world that places value on managing
people rather than fostering creativity.

A parent's greatest challenge is to preserve their child's innocence
and to protect their unique sense of self. All children have innate
gifts and if nurtured will blossom, but if stamped upon and controlled,
will dampen their spirit which may never rise again.

The best gift you can give to your child is the gift of time to enjoy
the simple pleasures. Yes, I know you hear this all the time and I, too,
feel guilty for not always being there for "quality time" with my own
children. Do not beat yourself up, but do recognize that this is the
case and try in small ways to incorporate those special moments with
your child.

It is relationships that are of value, not things and more activities.
Children ache to be with their parents, and the children I see that are
so disruptive in class are screaming for this attention. They do not
comprehend the "why" of their behavior, but are acting on a deep-rooted
emotional loss. They are little people and we should not expect them
to understand the intricacies of their misbehavior nor should we
believe that throwing money or bribing them is a solution.

Accept your children as they are and adjust your expectations to match
the uniqueness of your child's individual spirit. As parents, this is
your responsibility and this should not be left to others!