10 December 2005

Children are People Too

I have a lot of trouble with adults who treat children with any less respect or positive regard than they would treat another adult, like they are lesser beings, like they don't deserve the same respect as other people.

Is there a word for discriminating against children?

We have a responsibilty to provide clothing, food and shelter and keep them safe from harm, to help and teach them and to be there for them when they need our help. We can teach them about responsibility, discipline, respect and consideration for others and we can teach them how to take care of themselves financially, emotionally and physically.

Yes, we temporarily know more than our kids. We are temporarily bigger and stronger than they are. But we don't have the right to control and/or manipulate them.

I hear parents telling kids that they are rude and disrespectful if they don't conform to the right set of manners at the dinner table. Seems to me that trying to force kids to do what you want them to do, the way you want them to do it, is a tad rude.

I see parents warning kids about consequences of their actions - like "if you spend all of your allowance on candy you wont have any to buy that toy" - and then bailing them out effectively robbing them of a real world learning opportunity.

I see parents getting angry with their kids because the child questions the adult's authority and then acting as if getting angry with them is OK because it was the child's fault. What's wrong with questioning authority?

This type of behaviour is draconian. It may be a leftover from how some of these parents were treated when they were children. Thankfully we weren't all treated this way. Why would you treat your own child with any less respect than you would a co-worker or a friend? I don't know.

I came accross this quote a couple of weeks ago. I like it. I couldn't find a web site with a clean posting (without some site problems and with the credit to the author) of this so here it is:


When we adults think of children there is a simple truth which we ignore: childhood is not preparation for life; childhood is life. A child isn't getting ready to live; a child is living.

Children are constantly confronted with the nagging question: "What are you going to be?" Courageous would be the youngster who, looking the adult squarely in the face, would say, "I'm not going to be anything; I already am." We adults would be shocked by such an insolent remark, for we have forgotten, if indeed we ever knew, that a child is an active, participating and contributing member of society from the time of birth.

Childhood isn't a time when a pre-human is molded into a human who will then live life; the child is a human who is living life. No child will miss the zest and joy of living unless these are denied by adults who have convinced themselves that childhood is a period of preparation.

How much heartache we would save ourselves if we would recognize children as partners with adults in the process of living, rather than always viewing them as apprentices. How much we could teach each other; we have the experience and they have the freshness. How full both our lives could be.

The children may not lead us, but at least we ought to discuss the trip with them, for, after all, life is their journey, too.

From Notes on an Unhurried Journey by John A. Taylor. © 1991



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