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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Being Partners With Your Child

Written by Amie on October 27, 2008 – 6:43 pm -

We unschool our kids. Many people don’t know what this term means. I didn’t know what it meant either. I knew that when my kids were toddlers that I could not stand the thought of sending them to school. I did not want to be away from them, nor did I feel it was an idea that they would be happy about. We had so much fun being together, that my husband and I really didn’t want to have someone else raising our kids for a chunk of our day. We parented our kids with attachment style parenting, which helped pave the road to unschooling.

Many people are confused by the term unschooling. Some think it means un-parenting. It does not mean to just let your kids go without being a partner to them, without helping them find the things that interest them, and journey with them down many different paths. It does not mean to be submissive and just basically ignore your kids. It means to “BE” with them, be present with them, help them find things that they are interested in, do things with them, be very involved with them, but follow their lead.

I have been thinking a lot about how unschooling has been the most rewarding experience. The relationship that I have with my kids is incredible. There is no punishment/reward type behavior. We talk about everything, we negotiate with each other trying to find solutions that will make everybody feel heard. I look at my kids as the human beings that they are. I don’t treat them like I am in control just because I happen to be older. Imagine if you had to ask your spouse/partner/friend every time you wanted to eat something, or go somewhere, or do something. Imagine if you had no choice on what to do with YOUR life. It is a frustrating way to live, and it DOES NOT have to be that way. My wish for every child is that they have freedom to choose how to live their lives. Some people assume that kids will just go wild and do really stupid things if they are able to make choices for themselves. This is simply not true. If a person learns to think for themselves, and they feel like they have control over themselves, they live more authentically, they learn to live from their heart. When kids are treated disrespectfully, they learn to find ways to get some freedom, which means learning how to be sneaky and doing other potentially  harmful things in order to get their needs met.

Parents do not have to be authoritative in order to have kids that are respectful. Kids learn by how they are treated and what they see, not what a parent “tells” them. If they are treated with respect, they give respect.

I feel joy everyday with my kids. Is it perfect? No, nothing is, but I truly feel blessed to be able to share my life with them. I could never have imagined a relationship so open and so loving with my kids. I trust that they will learn everything they need to learn in order to be happy, healthy adults. School does not teach this. School teaches kids that they must do what the authority tells them to do, when to do it, how to do it, how much of it to do, and when to stop. It teaches them when they can eat, when to use the restroom, and that they can’t speak when they want to. It teaches them that other people will tell them what they need. Suppression is a huge lesson to learn from school. Suppress your anxiety, suppress your anger, frustration, your urge to use the restroom, the need to speak your mind, your hunger, the need for healthy connection with all age people, the need to learn things that interest you, the need to just stay home and rest when you want to without getting behind, and suppress your innate needs and desires.

School does not prepare kids for the real world, school prepares kids to learn how to become robotic and how to suppress their aliveness. If kids had a choice about when and whether or not they want to go to school, our world would be a much healthier place!

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