Are We Raising An Obnoxious Kid?

Children should be seen and not heard

Speak only when spoken to.

Because I said so.

Early on we decided that we wanted to mutter these phrases that we heard a LOT as children as little as possible to our own children. We decided that having outspoken children with opinions was ok and we want to encourage conversation among ourselves and our children. We both realized that leaders tend to be people who question authority and are not always compliant. Our desire for this type of child has led us to choose a school for our oldest daughter which believes that children are authentic human beings with views and opinions that should be valued almost as much as adults. They allow children to be active participants in the classroom in every way – including curriculum decisions. When we visited the school we were impressed with how much bravado the students had, how mature they were but we also smirked a little and said… “man, these kids are a little obnoxious”…

We want to raise leaders.

We don’t want to raise obnoxious kids.

Lady C (now 5 years old) is … very vocal. Real talk… we know that to some (especially to old school adults), she is a bit obnoxious. Oh yes — we’ve seen how some folks just glare when she corrects adults or asks for proof of their statements. We’ve even had people say they were “surprised” when we’ve let her get away with some of her questions or sassy talk. In her recent school end of the year report, her Pre-K teacher wrote:

“… she sometimes speaks for the sake of speaking but doesn’t really know the context of what she is talking about” …

Yep. We know that kid! We’ve got to pull it back a bit!

While we want her to have a “voice” we know that, of course, there needs to be balance because SOMETIMES it is ok to ask question after question (after question after question) and disagree with a grownup. But SOMETIMES little ones need to close those little lips and open those little ears and not.say.a.word. Leaders are vocal but leaders should know what they are talking about too. And you can learn by listening and doing. Other than moments of danger though, the question is… When is that SOMETIMES??? How do you pause the questions and ‘back talk’ in THAT moment? What is THAT moment? Is it when you are just plain tired of the fifth time they have asked “why?” Or is it when the back talk gets a little too sassy? Do you use a code for when enough is enough… a secret family word or phrase perhaps?

We are struggling with the balance of raising a kid who is not in the shadows, speaks up and asks questions versus a child who talks back too much and has driven us to the point where we yell “BECAUSE I SAID SO”.

We don’t want an obnoxious kid.

Thoughts? Give it to use straight (but don’t be obnoxious about it!)

9 thoughts on “Are We Raising An Obnoxious Kid?

  1. Gene Hall says:

    Oh man. We struggle with this, with our oldest child, the self described future CEO. We want her to be assertive, strong and confident. We also want her to be self aware, respectful and sensitive to others feelings. Soooooo. As you’ve described it really is a balancing act- we’re relatively laissez fare about it, unless she is being outride rude or disrespectful to another person(adult or child) at which point we’ll step in and make a correction.
    The great thing about parenting though is that you have the opportunity to continually tweak your approach as you seek the right balance for your family. You won’t have to pine away for another chance to give feedback, introduce a secret phrase or whatever else, because the behavior will come up again- Trust!

    • thegreeneblog1314 says:

      You always have the best answers!!! Mommy pro indeed. Do you think your oldest is aware that she is sometimes overstepping boundaries? Do you explain in the moment what the concerns are?

  2. Nadine Pearson says:

    Old school adult here! Elementary school educator here! Close family member here! Lady with mixed feelings about this topic shaking her head here!
    This is a touchy topic simply because parents do have the right to raise their child(ren) in ways that they feel are best…ways that yea, might make others cringe…raise an eyebrow…or speak out in total disagreement. The issue for me is where do you draw the line, which is the very question you are exploring.
    I have a 40 year old and I was also adamant about doing things differently…didn’t want to say because I said so…wanted to have open and honest communication with my child…physical discipline was a definite no no…wanted to make sure her schools were a good fit….the list goes on and on and on….. But there were also clear boundaries, lines that could not be crossed under any circumstances. (I will always thank my parents for that—my child spent her early years with my parents.) My kid was surrounded by old schoolers…family members, teachers, friends of the family. And then there was me!!!
    It was like wielding a double edged sword, “Yes, you can do/say this…but um hey pull back, because remember you are a child and I am the adult.” Children were seen and “a little heard!” Children could speak when they were spoken to and sometimes when they weren’t spoken to…but had to always speak in a respectful way….euphemism for no freaking back talk…however their opinions did matter. It’s a weird kind of mix.
    You are very passionate about raising leaders. The challenge I offer you, Mr. and Mrs. GreenE is to reflect on your childhood. Compare the way you were raised to the journey you are on with Lady C and Lady H. Knowing your parents, I’d venture to say there was some old school raising going on—and look at the great leaders you have become.
    There are many ways to reach the same results. Find the balance that works best for you.

    • thegreeneblog1314 says:

      It is a weird mix which is why I’m curious whether people have codes… almost like “Uncle” when you are play fighting to declare that THIS is not the moment for free expression…

  3. MsNay says:

    As a great friend of the GreenE clan I have experienced some of the ‘obnoxious’ remarks made by Lady C. It is one of the things I love about her. I was brought up real old school. I wasn’t even allowed to be I the room when only adults were present (not the case with my friends and I). This however caused me to be very rebellious. When I had the chance to speak you could not stop me and I said whatever I wanted to say (I still do that). For that reason I was always in trouble. I vowed that when I had children I would let them speak and have an opinion. However, there had to be a respectful balance.
    1. Children should be seen and not heard. – If mommy is speaking, say excuse me, wait until I acknowledge you and then you may speak. Some may say this is rude when speaking to other adults. I don’t care. What my child has to say may be important.
    2. Because I said so. – Though I have said this at times I try to say this instead ‘I understand what you are saying and how you feel but right now that is not what should happen’. This takes their feelings into consideration but mommy in the end mommy wins! (Just kidding).
    3. Speak when spoken to. – I love having conversations with LeDiva. They are interesting, funny and the joy of my day. This I hope will go a long way with us into the future when she will trust and know that I will listen to her no matter what. If she gives me ‘back talk’ now and then so be it. I know how to shut it down. I let her have her say then I say ‘look at me’ and once again acknowledge her feelings but tell her I am the mom and it time to STOP.
    There is my two cents. A little of the old with some of the new. I think the LeDiva will grow up to be a leader who knows how and when to listen. She will also be respectful to others when she needs to be. If at times she is obnoxious, so be it. My question is, do kids this age know they are being obnoxious? Probably not. Let’s have this conversation again in 10 years. For now I think our girls are just fine (because the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree).

  4. thegreeneblog1314 says:

    This is interesting… the backfire affect of being separated from adult interactions is interesting and ties to a theory in general that you have to give kids a little rope so they don’t hang themselves. We can AND WILL talk about this more with regards to sex education because whew… all the kids I know who were “sheltered” from those conversations because sexual early on out of rebellion… new TOPIC!

  5. Next month I will be 34 and looking back, I was somewhat obnoxious. I’m my mother’s oldest child and she knew when she had me that, she didn’t want to be as “structured” as her 1st generation mother was. She didn’t subscribe to the, “children should be seen and not heard” theory however, she did believe that we should be respectful. She wanted us to communicate with her and I was actually the most vocal when I disagreed with something. The catch…I always got in trouble. Why? It was never what I said, rather how I said it. My mother was okay with me voicing my opinion but she insisted that I would be respectful. She also insisted that I learn when giving an opinion was necessary and when I should be quiet.
    As an adult, I have to say that her freedom with boundaries was a good thing. While freedom is important, boundaries are just as important. When I crossed that imaginary line in the sand my mother gave me the eye. As an older sister, aunt, godmother I realized that I inherited that eye from her. And while I encourage open communication, I reel them back in when they go to far.
    She’s going to be an incredible young lady one day. All she needs to learn is that sometimes it really is a power move when you stay quiet and just observe!

    • thegreeneblog1314 says:

      Thank you for this thoughtful and much appreciated response. I like the bright line rule about being vocal with RESPECT. It is ok to talk but do so with respect! Cheers. Aisha

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