What the f* is that “good boy” or “good girl”, anyway?
I know adults who are still trapped in hunting the label “good boy” or “good girl”. It was something that their parents used to tell them all the time. “Good girls don’t do that”, “If you are a good boy, we will buy that track you saw in the toy store”, “I know you are a good girl, so you will clean your room”, etc.
What the f* is a good kid anyway? Can you describe it? Can you give an objective definition? No, you can’t. There isn’t one.
Good and bad always co-exist
The concept of the words “good” and “bad” is subjective. Something good for you is bad in another person’s opinion. In fact, nothing is good or bad. It’s just is, it’s just happening. We decide to give it a characterization, according to the personality each of us has formed. But, even if we ignore that, the good and the bad co-exist. Always. They exist at the same time. It’s us who choose to focus on one or the other, depending again on our personality, our beliefs, our repressed feelings, our fears, our desires, our memories, our experiences, and so on.
Parents and the term “good kid”
When parents say “good kid”, not only give -consciously or unconsciously- a definition of their own but also, this content they give to the term, is not always the same. One day the “good kid” is a sociable one (“Say something to the kind lady. Good kids are kind and they respond. Tell her “thank you”), and the other day is silent (“Be a good kid. Let us have a conversation. Play with your video game now”).
Furthermore, parents think that the rules they set for their children are different for them. So, “good kids don’t stay all day in front of a screen” but …good parents can do that and stay in front of their Facebook profile for two hours. “Good children” don’t yell, but parents can do that whenever they want. “Good children” knock on the door before entering their parents’ bedroom, but parents can invade their kids’ room whenever they like to, without asking for permission. “Good kids” have to say “I’m sorry”, but parents don’t have that …obligation when they have crossed the line and they have done something disrespectful to them. “Good children” don’t belch, but parents can say “what an asshole!” whenever they want to.
The list of examples can go on non-stop. The point is that in fact, the meaning of the phrase “good kid” is whatever a parent wants in every case, with the phrase being something like the Plasticine their kids play with. They form the term as they like and -in most cases- their behavior is “untouchable” and beyond (self-)criticism.
There are not good or bad kids. Just good and bad behaviors or -better say- suitable or unsuitable ones, depending on each situation.
And we ALL do BOTH. The difference is how often or in what percentage each of us chooses the one or the other. But no one does only good things or only bad things. Giving kids the label of “good” or “bad”, making them believe that a confusing content we give to a term is what they are or have to become, transmitting in parallel mixed messages with our behavior, leads them to become illiberal. And, as a society (the external world) is a projection of what’s happening in human’s internal world, we have -and we will always have if we don’t broaden our perspective- a society of illiberal people.
Before you use the phrase “good kid” again, think twice.
Anthi Psomiadou — CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International : Credit must be given to the creator/ Only noncommercial uses of the work are permitted/ No derivatives