Being a respectful parent, I’m sometimes told what I do isn’t good parenting. ‘Good parents’ punish their kids, they control them and this apparently makes children into good adults.
I feel as though almost all parents hope to help their kids grow into adults that know how to make smart choices and have emotional intelligence. I don’t feel like treating children like second class citizens is the way about this. I think the biggest step is viewing kids as people.
In general, adults hold entirely different standards for children. Often kids aren’t respected and they are held to high expectations. There’s a general consensus with some people that children are possessions and wouldn’t function without strict rules, rewards and punishments.
Yet I know now-adults and teens who as children were treated with respect and are functioning members of society who seem to have it together much more than many of us who were traditionally raised.
Kids are often talked at and treated like they don’t matter as much as adults. People ask me questions about my now grown children all the time as they stand right beside me (ask them!)
Kids are forced to obey without question and even shamed when they don’t.
The truth is I don’t want to be viewed as a ‘good parent’ by a society that thinks so little of children.
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I remember when I started to look for alternative parenting. I started asking myself questions and observing all the learned habits I had formed towards children:
Would I talk about my husband as if he wasn’t right there?
Would I tell a friend to hurry up?
Would I expect an adult to finish food they don’t like?
We wouldn’t force an adult to share or apologise or calm their reaction, would we? I sure wouldn’t! I think we would recognise that they’re having difficulty and that this was a hard moment. We wouldn’t find it normal or justified to turn our backs on the distress of any another human being; so why a child?
Hitting people is wrong. Kids are people too. Shaming people is mean. Kids are people too.
Children deserve respect. They deserve to be have a say. Children deserve to be heard. They deserve to not live in fear of punishment. Kids deserve to be seen and treated as having a separate existence and not simply as extensions of their parents. They deserve freedom within limits. Ultimately, kids deserve to be seen as people too.
I expect the judgement. I expect the eye rolls when I get down on my children’s level and talk with them about their choices. How dare I involve them in decisions that affect them and treat them respectfully!?
I am used to the outrage when I admit we don’t punish our kids. Yes, we don’t punish our kids (here’s what we do instead) You read correctly. I don’t hit them, send them to time out, humiliate them or take away their possessions. The horror! According to general western society I’m raising self-centered out-of-control brats! Yet, we’re consistently told our children are lovely and they blow us away with their respectful nature.
But I believe that:
If you want children to respect others – you must respect them!
If you want children to listen – you must listen to them!
If you want children to make good choices – you must let them make choices!
If you want children to feel valued – you must show them you value them!
It’s pretty obvious – if you give them a voice, freedom and love then they feel valued and free and loved.
Thank you for reading!