Texas Liberal

All People Matter

No Kidding—Children Understand More Than Many Adults Are Able Or Willing To Grasp

Here is a shocker—Babies and small children understand more than many people imagine.

Maybe the only way to grasp this is to not have children–I have none– and see the idiocy and condescension with which many parents and adults address kids of all ages. 

I don’t know if this is because these parents are lazy or because they lack imagination.  Both I suppose. Maybe parents resent the presence of someone who they fear might have a real future.

Maybe the daily brutality and neglect with which we treat poor kids in our society seeps into people’s homes as a dislike of all children. Even people’s own kids are seen as not meriting full effort. 

From New York Times health columnist Jane Brody–“Keep in mind that preverbal children understand far more than they can say. One of my grandsons was a late-talker. When he wanted something to drink or eat, he went to the refrigerator or pantry and pointed. Our job was to ask, “Do you want water, milk or juice, cereal or raisins?” and wait for his response. When we guessed right, we reinforced the verbal message by saying, “Oh, you want cereal.”…Count the steps as you go up or down. My twin grandsons’ math skills flourished long before they could speak in sentences because they live in a third-floor walk-up. At whatever age your children start talking, let them know you are interested in what they are saying by repeating and expanding upon it and asking them to repeat what they said if at first you do not understand them.”

I don’t have kids and fair portion of my life is over. Why should I care? It’s just as how I’m willing to pay taxes for the benefit of other people’s kids, while so many parents won’t pay up for the good of their own children or other people’s kids.

And yet–I get tired in life of seeing kids who clearly have some smarts and who have questions about the world, being so poorly served by the adults in their lives.

If you have kids, please make the effort required to teach these kids. The future may well be one of disappearing jobs and rising oceans. Folks without the needed skills to do well are going to be out in the cold.

Beyond that—People with strong verbal and communication skills have better lives all around. They have better relationships and they learn more about the world.

So many parents just seem to be lousy parents.

October 13, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,


  1. i think people start off with the right idea most and as time goes on with stubborness and life events you become worse at what you most wanted. I might not be the best parent in the world but i try so hard to stay connected and involved with my daughter that sometimes i stop and ask if i am doing the right things. sacrafice is the only word you can come up with when it comes to kids. i would give violet my heart if she needed it. We do well together and we are still very close and connected i am grateful that i have her every day. i never take her for granted.

    Comment by bill brady | October 13, 2009

  2. Have you read Bob Herbert’s column today in The Times? Basically about our attempts at nation-building in other countries while we let our cities and the children in them rot.

    In Cincinnati (and many other communities), United Way’s Success By 6 efforts focus on the issues you talk about. Just released second issue of a Successful Starts report that focuses on the progress our youngest children are or aren’t making. 52 percent of kids entering CPS are not prepared for kindergarten – partially because no one ever introduced them to the world Brody describes.

    We all need to participate in the effort to help our children – our own, nieces and nephews, cousins, grandchildren, in the neighborhood, ‘little brothers/sisters’ – succeed.

    Comment by Newton | October 13, 2009

  3. my daugher is in cps and it has challanges for sure. i stick to my guns and keep telling her the same message. do your best, its all a parent can do. she has a project i stay involved. again we can surf the net, drink, watch sports and/or spend time with our children. the choice is clear to me but there are many that dont see things that way. they want to blame the school and society or anything that gets them off the hook. i am glad to be a parent and i am proud of my daughter everyday.

    Comment by bill brady | October 13, 2009

  4. Bill–Good work.

    Newton–Have been meaning to do a post on Bob Herbert. I feel he gets it right more than anyone I read on a regular basis.

    Good work by the United Way in Cincinnati and elsewhere. My wife and I give to the United Way each year.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | October 14, 2009

  5. Bill – It’s parents like you who are a child’s first and best chance. There are probably lots of parents like you – we just don’t often hear about them. They’re the ones who put their kids on the road to success at whatever level the child can attain it.

    Comment by Newton | October 14, 2009

  6. I’m a parent. I know many parents. I know many parents who work for the good of their children, and children in general, every day. I know parents who read books to be better parents. I know parents who read books to their kids so they can be better kids. I know parents who write articles about neat things to do with kids. I know parents who take those ideas and do neat things with their kids. I know parents like me who sacrifice mightily to put their kids in a private school that can handle their special needs better to give their child the best chance. I know parents who think their kids are the most amazing people and thank the stars to have them in their lives. I know parents who sometimes get tired, stressed, overwhelmed and lose their inner Mr Rogers for a short time. I know that’s usually the exception, not the rule, and I also know that as long as your kids know you love them, and that is a no matter what, a lot of the flotsam and jetsam doesn’t add up.

    I don’t know a single parent who is like you describe here.

    I think it’s too bad that is who you do know (or think).

    I’d be VERY glad to connect you with some of the amazing parents to amazing kids so you can see the other side.

    Maybe it will restore your faith and hope.

    Comment by Julie | October 14, 2009

  7. Julie–The fact that I keep up with this blog and try to convey my values in what often seems like an indifferent world is in my view an expression of hope that the future has value.

    I’m glad you know these parents you make reference to, yet if anything I have been charitible in this post.

    No doubt there are many excellent parents who give a lot of themselves every day for years and years, yet to consider the state of children as a whole in this society is to be made sick.

    As the specifics of my post, I stand by them. There are few aspects of life where people apply the imagination and effort required to get stuff right.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | October 15, 2009

  8. julie i am an ok parent and try my hardest and there is no faith or hope in this world. there is luck and perception as long as you are a little lucky and perceive your life as ok you can get through it. without luck and perception you are doomed. the are some that live in denial and others that self medicate to the point where they dont know where they are but thats a different post:)

    Comment by bill brady | October 15, 2009

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