Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The "Brat" Phenomenon

I keep witnessing a parenting style that is driving me crazy. I see it everywhere- in people's homes, at the mall, and on the playground. It is something many parents do yet no one is talking about the negative affects it has on our children. It's what I call the Brat Phenomenon, or name-calling.

I am so tired of hearing parents call their child a "brat." It is so common, and said in a million different ways:

"You are such a brat!"
"My kid is an annoying little brat."
"You're my little brat aren't you?"
"Stop being such a brat."

Merriam Webster defines brat as an ill-mannered annoying child. We all know it means even more than that: an ill-mannered, ungrateful, annoying child whom no one really likes.

So please tell me, why is anyone calling their child a brat? Calling your child names, like brat, which have negative meanings only hurts your child. It is a form of emotional abuse and can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and often is the trigger for mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders.

I typically notice parents using the term in two situations, one where they are mad at something their child has done, and the other in a sarcastic way as if they are just joking. Well, if you are mad, talk to your child, don't call them names and berate them. And if you are being sarcastic and think it's funny, it's not. Your sarcasm just shows that you are insecure and feel the need to tear your child down in order to build yourself up. We all mess up as parents, but can we please try to stop making ourselves feel better by calling our kids names.

I see this so often, but in particular "brat" is a favorite term used by many parents. So, I have decided that the next time I hear someone call a child a brat in front of me and their child looks up at me with those sad eyes full of shame and embarrassment because of the actions of their parents, I will say to the child: "Do you know what I think brat means?"

It means you are:
Amazing and

Someone needs to tell these children that they are amazing, wonderful, and loved just the way they are. 


Rev. Katie


  1. Fun, only tangentially relevant piece of information: "brat" in Russian means "brother". Granted, it's pronounced "braat" more than the flat "a" sound, but I remember thinking it was kind of interesting when I learned it.

    Yeah, I said it was only tangentially relevant. ;)