Written by Amie on December 17, 2008 – 1:03 am -

Trusting Children

Trusting children to know and do what is right for them can be difficult for some. Some parents would never consider it to even be possible. I know first hand that it is possible, and that it isn’t always easy to do. Especially if we grew up in a family where we weren’t trusted. It can be a hard habit to break. But it is so worth it.

It is very hard for me not to scream when I see children being treated in a way that clearly makes them feel like second class citizens. Like they can’t be taken seriously or trusted to know what they are talking about. I was at a gathering today that was very difficult because the kids were encouraged to play in the basement, and asked not to join in a gift exchange that was “for adults”. I felt humiliated for the kids. Why shouldn’t they have the choice as to what they want to do? If the exchange was strictly for adults, then why have a family party?

Part of the Group

All humans have an innate need for connection. This is the same for kids. They want to know what is going on and what is true in this world they live in. They don’t want to be pushed away to the “kid’s area”, or left out because someone else judges the situation for them. Someone else gets to decide whether or not the child would be interested. I see time after time when a child is trying to express something to an adult, when the adult is not even really listening and seeing the child. Or, I have heard so many times, oh you can’t see/read/hear this, you wouldn’t understand it. Oh, how this strikes a chord with me.

Learning About the World

How are kids supposed ┬áto learn about the world? Sure, there are some things we might not want our kids exposed to. Heck, there are things *I* don’t want to be exposed to! But, we live in this world, and we need to learn how to navigate it. The only way for kids to do this is to be trusted and given the opportunity to decide for themselves what is best for them. I don’t mean to throw them out there alone. I mean allow them to explore whatever they need to explore, with the support of their non-judgmental partner-their parents or guardian.

Growing Up Confused

I remember growing up totally confused about so many things because so many things were hidden from me. Things that my parents didn’t think I should know, or maybe they were too embarrassed to talk about. Therefore, I was afraid to ask them for help in finding things out because I assumed that since they wouldn’t talk about it, it must be really bad, and I must be a really bad person for even wanting to know. Kids are extremely intuitive, they pick up on this energy from adults, and they assume that they must be the one who is wrong or bad.

Authentic Relationship

When my kids were younger, I started out trying to shield them from certain things. It didn’t last very long though, because I soon realized that I was jeopardizing the authenticity of our relationship. I knew that I wanted to be authentic with my children, so I figured that there had to be a better way for us.

My son said to me the other day that he really hates it when there is a group of adults talking, and they say something funny and start laughing. Then, when the kids in the group get the joke or whatever it was they said, and the kids laugh, he said that the adults look at each other and laugh, and he said it makes him feel like they are making fun of him. Almost like they can’t believe a child would understand what they meant. It always amazes me when I see this kind of treatment. I know that adults would not stand for this treatment. They would make the choice not to be around the people that treat them this way. Unfortunately, a lot of kids do not have this same choice.

Choose to Parent Differently

I know that each generation is different, and that things we do today were unheard of when I was a child. But, the underlying need for respect is always there. We can always choose to make a different choice than the way we grew up. When my husband and I decided to parent differently than the way we were raised, it was not easy at first. We still fall into patterns that were ingrained in us. If we make mistakes, we apologize to our kids. We tell them exactly why we said what we said, and apologize, just like we would do to our friends, or to each other. They understand that we are learning too. Respect them, and they respect us. I know that if we had repeated the way that we were raised, the relationship that we have with our kids would look so different right now. This thought alone keeps me on the path that we are on.


Posted in Connection, Depression, Kids/teenagers and depression, Mindful/respectful parenting, Unschooling | No Comments »

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