Recently I overheard someone say they think that obedience and bullying are necessary because “kids need to be prepared for the real world”. When they were asked to elaborate, they explained that they believed that taking orders and dealing with teasing and humiliation is necessary for the adult world and the workforce.
The idea that anyone thinks childhood needs to include these factors is so alarming to me. And this isn’t the first time I’ve heard it.
Following routines and instructions are necessities of some occupations, yes. Still, there are respectful and useful ways to learn these skills and obedience needn’t be a primary goal for childhood. Children are just learning to navigate the world around them; I don’t think they need to be made to believe that they can’t think for themselves.
The fact that anyone could believe that bullying is somehow inevitable and required is concerning. Surely people don’t think that being teased or humiliated is necessary for kids to grow into competent adults?
If you’re bullied as an adult, you have a different skill set to cope. You have procedures to follow to report harassment if it happens in the workforce. Conflict resolution is not limited to dealing with bullying, either.
As someone who was bullied as a child and teen, I can safely say that I didn’t learn how to deal with that as a child. I would have been better off without it and it only inhibited me and my growth as a person.
What can a child learn from bullying that they cannot learn from something else that is less traumatic and detrimental to their well-being? What can they possibly take from it which is positive and necessary? Any even remotely viable ideas that I can think of like conflict resolution, resilience, morals, character, etc are obviously traits you can learn in other more helpful ways.
Why would we as parents want to make our children feel terrible or experience pain or shame just because they might have the misfortune of experiencing it in the future? Would you crack a new phone screen ‘just in case’?
How to really prepare your child for their future:
- nurture their passions and talents,
- help them learn how to deal with conflict,
- be a safe base for them,
- let them know that what they think matters, matters to you,
- give them opportunities to contribute to the running of the home,
- guide them to be involved in the community,
- give them the space to grow their independence,
- respect them,
- show them unconditional love!