Respecting Parental Boundaries: A Rant

Reading Time: 3 minutes

ParentLine2My four-year old hates nicknames. We’re not sure why or how, but if you want to start a tantrum, call him anything but his name.

We first noticed it when we commented on his love of his Superman shirt.

Seen here, moving to a new planet after his old one blew up. Source: Mordechai Luchins
Seen here, moving to a new planet after his old one blew up.
Source: Mordechai Luchins

This has been his signature outfit since he was two. He loves his Superman caped shirts. We’ve made sure to have one in every size (hooray for clearance sales). And yet, he’s even more fixated on his identity.

“Hey,” asked someone “are you Super Ben?”
“No. I jus’ Ben.”
“No, you’re Super Ben!”
“No. Is jus’ a shuht. I Ben.”
“I’m going to call you Super Ben!”
Which leads to him getting upset, looking for me, or acting out.

It’s not just the Superman shirt. When we dressed him up for Purim (Jewish holiday) as a doctor, he got very upset at being called “doctor Ben.” Again, “I jus’ Ben” was heard.  In an interview for a new school for next year, he absolutely fell in love with his future teacher when she asked “Now, do you like being called Benjamin, or Ben.” Lately, he’s even gotten proactive about it; going up to new people and firmly saying “my name is Ben Luchins.”

Is it possible that this is part of a larger issue we will have to look into one day? Sure. But that’s not the point of this write-up. What is? To adjust for his little complex, I’ve had to ask people to please not call him “Benny” or “Benji.” You know what blows my mind? How hard that is for some people. I’ve had to ask people over and over to please stop calling him nicknames, sometimes after water works are initiated.

It’s not just with names; I see a real trend of people ignoring parent’s wishes. Discussing the issue with fellow GeekDads brought general agreement. Maybe I don’t want my son watching a certain TV show. Perhaps you don’t want your child going to certain stores. Or maybe, G-d forbid, you want to let your 11-year-old play in his own backyard. Okay, so the last choice is extreme, but it’s absolutely a symptom of the mentality that you know better than I do about what is right for my children. A child playing in his back yard is no danger to himself or others. On the other hand, taking a child from his house, his designated safe space, and taking him from his parents for being smart? Yeah, no. The Meitiv family was found not guilty of child neglect in the famous case of daring to let their children walk home from school, to the point that the state will be clarifying the laws.

But it shouldn’t have to. Parenting should always follow the old rule “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins” (not said by Oliver Wendell Holmes). My right to parent my child is my right, unless I strike your nose. In other words, unless you can show I’m harming my child, mind your own business. You’re welcome to argue with me about vaccines, or walking home, or why my son needs to deal with people calling him things other than his name, but if your arguing with me damages my child, you’ve crossed the line.

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