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Just A Guy Answering If I'm a Jerk or Not

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I wrote a story about the time my son got a nosebleed on the slopes. I suggested that my wife and I alternate going to the slopes so we didn't each miss out on skiing, our mutual passion, and our son would not be alone. Now the blogosphere is buzzing over my "selfish" behavior.

man thinking

Bruce Sallan: Okay, so the blogosphere has reacted to my column in which I describe a situation where my teen son got a nosebleed on the slopes, but I didn't let it hamper my skiing plans. I asked the question: "Am I A Selfish Parent?" ... and many say yes!

No surprise, as this always felt like a gender difference issue to me. I believe moms too often put their kids' needs ahead of everyone else's, to the detriment of their kids and everyone else.

And, I believe sometimes boys AND girls need to be told, basically, to "get over it." I remember hearing a story about a playground incident in which one little boy, without any provocation whatsoever, went over to another and just shoved him to the ground. That boy's mother comes over to him, let's call him Timmy, and says "Timmy, Timmy, what is bothering you?" instead of disciplining him and letting him know his behavior was wrong.

The nosebleed fits in the same category. IF and I emphasize IF there were any real danger, of course I'd leave or take him to the ER. But, I know my son and he has a tendency to give into his feelings of the moment and he has a tendency to get scared. I felt, and I turned out to be right in this instance, that teaching him to tough it out vs. running away was a better lesson.

I believe too many kids nowadays are being coddled and pampered. They need, instead, some reality checks. Maybe that's why so many young adults can't seem to leave the home and make it on their own. As a dad and man, I want to teach my boys to be strong and, yes, to tough it out occasionally without whining and complaint.

My son is now panicked about the swine flu, reading headlines that are designed to inflame. On this, I calmly assured him the risk to us was minimal and we'd be on top of it. I didn't berate him; I just reassured him. With the nosebleed, it felt appropriate to be a little tougher and the result was clearly positive in his joy the next day, all better, on the slopes.

I stand by my words and actions. But, what do I know; I'm just a guy.

next: Marriage Barely Over, Mel Steps Out with GF
14 comments so far | Post a comment now
kris April 29, 2009, 4:28 PM

I personally don’t think your actions were selfish. Its what I would have done and always do if a child is sick or an accident happens one stays back and the other continues on with what was planned especially if we’re away on vacation(and this has happened). And you make a good point about some kids being to sensitive and not trying to coodle him too much. I have a 5 year old and I have taught him that its okay to speak ones mind just don’t be disrespectful to others and adults. So he tells this other kids he doesn’t like him and he doesn’t want to play with him. I get the dreaded phone call from the principal that “We Need to Talk” the school is concerned that my son will be mean. No he is speaking his mind and how he feels at the moment as his mommie taught him to and what 5 year doens’t feel that way one day then plays with the same kid the next day. I say kids are coodled to the point where anything that is not a yes makes them cry and run for help. I just wish people would not try and change the way I raise my child. I have also told my 5 year old that if he says something that others think is mean or hurtful to apologize and move on its the adults that aren’t able to move on. I find that your branded as a bad parent and your child is branded as that kid when your child speaks his mind and its not agreed upon or liked by the child on the receiving end of the truth as my son sees it as. Keep doing what you do you will never be able to please everyone.

Anonymous April 29, 2009, 5:16 PM

I use to get nose bleeds all the time, and still do occasionally. It not something that needs to hault traffic. You go somewhere, take care of it, and go back to having fun. I believe you did the right thing. He was taken care of and you two as parents were still able to enjoy skiing. I also agree with you on this post. Its important to acknowledge someones fear, but it’s not always in anyones best interest to succomb to it.

Sarah-Jane April 29, 2009, 6:54 PM

Taking turns skiing is a perfectly reasonable suggestion. Now if you had suggested that you alone ski while wifey loses out for the remainder of the vacation, THAT would make you a jerk, and more like what is expected (though not universally true) of your gender.

Mandy April 29, 2009, 9:22 PM

This totally sounds resonable. My husband and I would have done the same. Of course we are what I like to call equal opportunity parents. :) That means we share the responsibilities of raising our children and it isn’t just one persons job to do the dirty work!

Gail Cooke April 29, 2009, 10:55 PM

I think you’re being totally reasonable.

Darcy April 30, 2009, 9:23 AM

You are right. It’s gotten out of hand. We treat our kids like they are royalty, when they need to know how to make it in the world when we aren’t taking care of them anymore. It’s good for them to see mom and dad having fun.

DW April 30, 2009, 10:25 AM

Not only do I think Bruce’s actions were reasonable, I think the solution found was SOLOMONIC…i.e., the idea of having “shifts” (mom on, dad off, dad on, mom off) to take care of the son. I am having trouble tracking down on the Internet the argument AGAINST what Bruce elected to do. I’d like to see what precisely was controversial. I strongly believe there are always at least two sides to every story/argument/issue/etc., but I’m just very curious what can be said soberly about going crazy about a nosebleed when there has been a series of nosebleeds in the past yet no history of brain or cranial disorders.

Tabitha April 30, 2009, 11:13 AM

your not selfish. i would have done the same thing. and apparently so would other people.

Mimi April 30, 2009, 4:51 PM

these parents are called “helicopter parents,” and they need to come down for a landing and chill out. good work.

Andria May 1, 2009, 1:32 PM

Let’s face it, when looking to have some adult fun while with the family, lower your expectations. Yes, women more than not will play the martyr and it later becomes expected if the husband is happy to allow the cycle to continue.
Regarding the nosebleed, waiting togethr for 10 minutes wouldn’t kill anybody!

Carolyn May 1, 2009, 5:30 PM

I don’t think it’s gender divided, Bruce. I’m a Mom, a caring and loving Mom, and I don’t think your behavior was selfish nor inappropriate. And not just because of the positive results. Our kids today are a MUCH more protected and coddled generation. I was a latch key kid (explain that one to your child!) and came home to an empty home much of my youth. I hurt myself plenty. But with no one there to pamper me, I did learn not only to tough it out, but I learned that I COULD tough it out. That lesson has helped throughout my life. Parenting has to be on a case-by-case basis. And in THIS case, Bruce, you did the right thing. It was win-win for everyone. As far as the naysayers go, well, they’re entitled to their “pampered” opinions.

Denise May 3, 2009, 2:57 PM

Okay, you’ve more or less convinced me. I do think men and women do bring their inherent traits to this sort of thing. BUT, I also believe we need to be sensitive to our children’s needs and they may take priority over ours. Nonetheless, I sure enjoy reading what you have to say. Looking forward to more.

lecia May 11, 2009, 1:31 PM

I read your two columns on this story. Parents need to keep emotion out of decisions they make and clearly you would have reacted different if it was an emergency. You are setting a good example of a Dad. Of course you had a spouse to stay with him which made a big difference. You must be seeing the differce with our children and their friends as compared with how our parents handled us when we grew up. The world is changing. I am appalled when I see older kids living with their parents yet when it is time for yard work only the parents are participating.

Michal May 13, 2009, 12:37 PM

I agree! When we are taking good care of ourselves as parents, and show our children that we enjoy life - we teach them a valuable lesson – their parent’s life does not always revolve around them – what a concept! Our kids need to know that parents have needs & desires separate from their own – if we will act based on that notion rather than just say it, they will grow to respect us more eventually.

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