Children’s Civil Rights Movement

Written by Amie on April 23, 2009 – 9:08 pm -

This is a new blog entry that I wrote on Ode Magazine’s website.

I want to start a Children’s Civil Rights Movement

I love this quote, by Janusz Korczak. “Children are not the people of tomorrow, but people today. They are entitled to be taken seriously. They have a right to be treated by adults with tenderness and respect, as equals.” I am reminded almost on a daily basis that children are not treated as equals. Just in the last few days, my kids have been treated disrespectfully.

We went to the bank the other day because my son wanted to get a debit card so that he could use it instead of carrying cash around with him. The money in the account was his money that he had saved. The woman that helped us asked him how old he was in a patronizing voice. It was as if she was implying that he wasn’t old enough to be responsible for a debit card. He answered that he was 11. From then on, she kept talking to me, instead of him. She asked me if he should have full access with the card. She quickly said it was up to me. I looked at my son, and he looked confused. It is HIS money, why shouldn’t he have full access to it? I told her, yes, he should have full access, as it is his money. She kept asking me if I wanted to take other “precautions,” implying that I needed to make sure he doesn’t spend more than what is in his account. The whole encounter just felt so negative. I kept thinking to myself that she would never have treated me this way, why is it okay to treat my son this way? It was all about assumptions.

Another incident happened at the movie theater. My husband took my son and his friend to a movie. My husband walked in first, handing the ticket taker his ticket. The man asked my husband in a kind voice, “if you have a cell phone, could you please turn it off?” Next, my son and his friend walked in (without cell phones), and the man said to them, “boys, turn off your phones.” He was under the assumption that they had phones and that they couldn’t be asked to turn them off using the same respect my husband got. Granted, there are kids who are rude in movie theaters using their phones; I have encountered them myself. There are also adults that do the same thing. However, we get what we expect. We treat kids as second class citizens, so that is what we get from some of them. They have grown up with the expectations of being disruptive, loud, obnoxious, etc. Even their parents expect them to be rebellious, uncommunicative, etc. We get what we expect. Kids do not want to be treated this way, but since it has become the standard, so many kids and teens resign to acting the way they are “expected” to act.

I want to call attention to this because I am hoping it will help adults become aware of this practice. This really is a form of discrimination. Kids are treated a certain way because adults assume they need to be taught how to behave, or taught what is polite. Adults are expecting the worst from them. If adults treated everyone with respect, including kids, then kids and teens would have good role models. They would know how to act just by observing adults. It all goes back to the quote, “Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” ~ Robert Fulghum.

I am picturing a Civil Rights Movement for children. I want to be a part of liberating the children of the world! I think so many people would be shocked at how much their lives would change for the better if they would treat children with the same respect that they give adults. The healing of our world starts here, with the treatment of our children. We need to stop assuming that kids need to be kept in the dark about things. They are brilliant and have some incredible ideas that never get heard because adults won’t listen. Kids are being “dumbed down” in our world. We are treating them with the mentality that WE as adults, “know what is best for them.” This is so far from the truth! Kids know what is best for them if they are given honest information when they ask for it.

I believe the growing number of depressed children and teens is due to them being treated unjustly and disrespectfully. They are being taught to repress their authenticity in order to fit into the systems that society has deemed “necessary” for them to become worthy citizens. If we go by statistics, we see that this system isn’t working very well. Antidepressants are prescribed to children at younger and younger ages. These children are getting the message that there is something wrong with them if they do anything that is “out of the ordinary” as labeled by the “experts.” I believe more children are trying to scream to adults that something is wrong with this situation! Do something to help me! Some adults listen, others decide to give their children drugs unnecessarily. I don’t mean this too sound judgmental, everyone does what they think is best for their children. At least that is my hope. I just want to stand up and shout, “Listen to the children, they are here to help wake us up!” The alarm clock is ringing, don’t just hit the snooze button and go back to sleep!

Please visit me at www.benurtured.com for more information on personal growth, unschooling, respectful parenting, and more. I also recommend the books; Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, by John Taylor Gatto, Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids: 7 Keys to Turn Family Conflict into Cooperation by Sura Hart & Victoria Kindle Hodson, and Time-Out for Parents: A Guide to Compassionate Parenting by Cheri Huber.

 

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Children and their emotional health

Written by Amie on November 24, 2008 – 3:46 am -

I have to write about this because it is one of the things that I feel very passionate about. I think it is a huge symptom of this unhealthy dysfunctional culture. We went to the mall the other day and it was fairly crowded. We were walking along and I heard a screaming child coming closer and closer. This always makes me feel anxious. I have a very hard time listening without trying to help the child. Finally, I saw the child. She was probably about 2 or 3, holding her Mom’s hand, screaming her little eyes out. I wanted to pick her up and rescue her. I don’t want to sound judgmental, that’s not what this is about. I do understand that people have hard days, and I don’t know the whole story. However, I did see the smirk on the mother’s face as I passed her. She gave me the look of, yeah, I know, what a pain she is being. There was another woman walking with them as well. Maybe a friend of the mother. They were chatting as if nothing was amiss.

I get so upset when I see things like this. Why couldn’t the mom find a place where she could just sit down and be there for her daughter? She could offer to hold her on her lap, she could empathize with the child, letting her know, that yes, I see you, I see how upset you are, and try to find a solution that would work for them both.  Many parents may think that because this child was young, she was just being difficult, and her “behavior” didn’t deserve respect. This is so far from the truth. What if the woman had been as upset as the little girl? What if she was at the mall and something happened and she got this upset? Would her friend have just walked along rolling her eyes and ignoring her cries for help? I seriously doubt it! I really believe that someone would offer to help.

We all need to be seen and heard. We need to know that we matter, that our needs are important to the people that love us. To be scoffed at when we are hurting does so much damage. It teaches us that our needs don’t matter, that we don’t matter, and that we shouldn’t even have needs in the first place. It is not surprising that many of us grew up thinking we didn’t matter much. We sought out attention in unhealthy ways. I am 43 years old and I still have days when my inner core of hate raises is ugly head.  It has taken a very long time for me to know that I do matter, and that it is ok to love myself. My conditioning taught me otherwise, so I fight to shut that voice down. I feel grateful for all of the healing work I have done and am still doing, that reminds me of my birthright-to love and to be loved. To love others and to love myself.

Imagine what would happen if all children were seen and heard. What a healthy start they would have. What a healthier world we would have. Imagine if children could be treated with the same respect as adults. Nobody talking down to them just because they happen to be younger, no being forced to do things against your will just because someone thinks you need to learn something from it, or because it is to meet the adult’s need, people listening to your ideas instead of rolling their eyes at you because you are a child, how could you possible know what you are talking about? What if children were trusted to know what is best for them, what if they could listen to their own bodies and eat when they are hungry, go to sleep when they are tired, do things because they enjoy them, regulate their own bodies? That is my dream for every child. They are born equal to adults, why does that have to change? Because so many adults were raised this way as well, and they haven’t chosen to begin healing themselves. When children show emotions, especailly in public, adults feel embarrassed, like people are looking at them, or that people may think it is the parents fault. Sad. I really hope that parents can start caring more about their children’s emotional health than caring about what other people think.

Sorry for the rant, but I just had to get it out there!

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