When I first came home from work I think my perception of what it took to “raise” a child was a little ….skewd.
I’m not sure what I was doing when I was working but I’m admitting to myself that I wasn’t raising them. How could I be, I wasn’t there. It’s that easy. Now, I am lucky to be able to be home with my children and I am willing to sacrifice “luxury” to make it work. Some days it is not easy and I try not to complain but no matter what; the payoff is something that my career could never offer me.
But, if you’re like most people, you probably said to yourself at least once during your childhood or teens: “I’m never going to behave like my mother (or father) when I grow up.”
And, you don’t suddenly wake up one morning after becoming a parent and realize you’ve turned into your parents. I think it’s more insidious than that. It sneaks in little by little so you won’t notice and attempt a correction. It’s devious, your mouth almost involuntarily forming words that have been hibernating in the depths of your memory, waiting for their big debut. Suddenly with an impulsive and frustrated “This is why we can’t have nice things!” you realize it’s happened. You freeze—Breach! Breach!—But it’s too late for you, because minutes later you follow up with “Don’t make me say it again” or “I’m telling you, if I have to come in there.”
I’ve finally chosen to accept my transformation. But for me, child rearing has been a continual test in my ability to trust.
I understand if upon reading this you get defensive if this is a new idea, or contradicts what you have believed most of your life. As mothers we never want to feel like we have done something to harm our children. Our job is to protect them and to teach them what we know and it is difficult when our actions an ideas are challenged.
But, I think as adults we think we are entitled to certain behaviors on the assumption that we are superior to children and young people, and that we know best what’s good for the younger generation. And, maybe dealing with kids in this manner is thought to be easier and less time-consuming than treating them with respect, tact, and courtesy.
However, scratch below the surface, and you’ll find that this sort of adult disrespect is inherited. It’s most likely how we were treated as children by our parents and in our schools…and how our parents were treated by the generation before that. And so on, and so on. Most of us were raised with parents who told us what to do “because I say so.” They didn’t believe that they should explain to us children what their reasoning was. I would say they didn’t have enough respect for us to explain.
But, the deepest mystery of parenting is actually that we often miss the truth about children’s behavior, and yet it is so simple. Children are human beings just as we are, and behave in accordance to how they are treated, just as we do. We seldom stop to consider that this is simply an inexperienced human being with real feelings, who is doing the best he can do, given all the circumstances of his life up to that moment.
As parents, I think we all want our children to mature into responsible, considerate and successful people. In the West, a parenting culture characterized by sternness has gradually been replaced by gentler methods. But this approach of “engaging cooperation” is still based on the idea of parents exerting their control over children.
But, maybe parenting is much simpler when we realize that children come here already designed to bloom in their own unique ways. “Misbehavior in children is an attempt to communicate, when all else has failed. Children have a drive to love other people and to be a contribution to the people around them. It is time for all children to be recognized as the magnificent people they are, and accorded the dignity and respect that is due every human being. We must establish a new way of seeing children.”
To “follow one’s own drummer”, a person needs to exercise the muscles of free choice and self-learning from the start. The difficulty we have in trusting our children’s ability to flex these muscles stems from our own experience of not having been trusted. Trusting is, simply, not natural to us. Only as we make a concerted effort to get out – and stay out – of our children’s way do we discover the wonderful truth: the magic is already in our children, ready to unfold in its own way and in its own time.
Nearly every child comes to life equipped with a self that is capable of blooming to capacity. Unhindered in its growth, this self will lead the child to skills and knowledge and, in the process, self-actualization. We have no right to attempt to control the direction of this growth. Instead of training our children through various forms of intervention to fit our vision for them, we need to train ourselves to respect nature’s creation and to safeguard its full, authentic bloom.
Life is a game. Perhaps adults have matured and forgotten this essential element of Life called play. We have become serious and have made an artificial distinction between play and work and between play and study. Our children are here to teach us to lighten up, to put a spark in our eyes and Play Life.
Live and Learn. We All Do.
Thanks for reading. Please pass this on to someone who means something to you.