Adult vs. Child

Written by Amie on December 10, 2008 – 2:41 am -

I just can’t resist talking about another episode of the upsetting parenting I witnessed today. I really don’t want to be judgmental because I know that we are all on different journeys, and we are all at different levels of growth. I only wish that our culture would change what is considered to be “normal” parenting.  I really do try to make it a habit to focus on how I want things to be instead of dwelling on the reality of parenting in our culture. It is hard for me not to notice because I am very sensitive to children being mistreated. What is considered “healthy” or “normal” parenting in our culture is pathetic!

My kids and I went out for bagels today. While we were sitting at our table, a mother and her son, who was around age 4 came in. The boy was trying to make conversation with his mom, only to be ignored, and left to walk behind her. She ordered food, and he was constantly trying to see over the counter, and still trying to talk to his mom. She went through the process of getting the food, paying for it, and started to walk out the door. The boy dropped his coat on the floor intentionally, crossed his arms, and stood there refusing to move. Mom kept walking, barely looking back, and continued on out the door. He continued to stand there, not moving towards her. Someone that worked there didn’t see him drop his coat, so asked if it was his coat and if he wanted it. He stood there looking at her, but didn’t take the coat. Mom was still outside waiting, not budging to come in for him. Then, Mom started counting 1…….2………3…..she actually made it to 3! I have never seen a parent actually make it to 3. Usually the children get scared and comply with what the parent wants before they get to 3. Anyway, the look of terror on this poor child’s face was so sad. He knew when she got to 3 that he better get moving. I can still see his face. He grabbed his coat and ran right out to his mom. Her goal accomplished! I get it that we have bad days, and that it is difficult when our kids are having a bad day. However, it could be so much easier on everyone if every person can be heard. How would this scenerio have been different if the child was heard, and his feelings validated. He would feel safe and secure knowing that his feelings matter. 

My kids and I started talking about it. We wondered what would happen if I did that to my husband, or vice versa. If I wanted him to do something and he didn’t “comply”. We pictured me counting to him to get him moving. We were laughing about it, but at the same time feeling so sad that it is considered a good thing for parents to act this way towards their children. It is all about control and about looking good in front of other people. It is all about making sure the parents get their needs met, and that the children comply.

This is my passion-I am going to keep calling attention to this crazy behavior until people stop and think about what they are doing. It is not a surprise that so many children turn into very angry adults. I know I did. How many of us were helpless as children? How many of us had a say in our lives? Admittedly, I had a lot of freedom in some ways. It was actually freedom in an unhealthy way though. It was the kind of freedom that you have because your parents are too wrapped up in their own issues to care about what you are doing. That’s a whole other story!

Anyway, I try to stay focused on ways to help kids have a voice. I hope that modeling respectful parenting has some effect. Whenever I see this disrespectful parenting, I think to myself how grateful I feel for the relationship that I have with my kids. It is so cool to be able to talk with them about everything and anything. I love that they know they can say anything, ask anything, or be curious about anything, and I will be there to honestly and respectfully answer. We have fun together, and I am not “the adult” that trys to put them in their place. We are equal. Yes, I have experiences that they don’t, so I share any experiences that they want to know about. 

My kids often talk about how unfair it is that just because kids are younger they don’t have the same opportunities as adults. They want all kids to have the freedoms that they do. They get so angry when they see kids being coerced or mistreated. I do too. I can’t wait for the day when the “normal” behavior for parenting means treating kids equally and respectfully.

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