It was at my first Unschooling conference that I began to examine and question the discrepancies in the socially acceptable ways we treat children versus the ways we treat adults. After all, kids are not as “socially valuable” as adults right? They lack experience and wisdom. They can’t delay gratification or keep up with “important responsibilities” like bills and jobs. They require supervision and cajoling or coercion or downright force to “do the right thing.”
I grew up being treated with a certain lack of respect and condescension that I just accepted as normal from NEARLY EVERY ADULT I encountered. As I grew older I began to use the same tone, same attitude and show the same lack of respect for children that I encountered. It was ingrained in me. It was the norm to treat children this way (or worse). And despite my bent for social activism and all of the philosophizing I had done around equal rights for women or different races, ethnicities or sexual orientations, I had never stopped to think that the largest group of people that are routinely discriminated against, subjugated and marginalized is children!
I sat in the introduction to Unschooling workshop at that first conference and heard examples of ways that we speak to and treat children that would be considered rude, disrespectful or even verbal assault if we spoke to adults that way. A lightbulb went off and it has been an ever unfolding process of discovery, self examination and deprogramming to change my ways little by little to treat children AUTOMATICALLY with the same respect and consideration that I would give an adult.
It’s not always easy and sometimes I fall back into the old patterns of demanding, coercing and expecting developmentally inappropriate things from children . . . and then treating them disrespectfully when they don’t perform to my satisfaction.
Despite the fact that children have far less experience, self-control and ability to cope with the world, we expect them to have the same amounts of patience, impulse control and initiative as adults. BUT we are not willing to give them the same respect and consideration that we would give other adults. We speak to them as if they’re stupid and belittle them. We order them around and expect immediate compliance. We make plans without their input. We make decisions about their lives and how they will spend their time without considering their needs, desires or opinions.
It’s inconvenient for adults to stop and ask a child about their preferences or how they might choose to do things in a certain situation. We think we know better because we are older.
And this doesn’t even BEGIN to touch the issue that it is perfectly LEGAL to hit, strike or smack one’s own child when the same behavior toward an adult would be considered assault and would justify charges being filed.
This is a problem that has deep roots and even wider repercussions.
This Fall a group of pioneering Unschoolers in Dallas have come together to create a Home Education Co-op that has confirmed my suspicions that we give kids WAY TOO LITTLE respect, consideration and trust. The initiative, creativity, team work and problem-solving skills the kids in our group have displayed in creating and self-designing their activities and classes has been humbling, inspiring and surprising. (Even for a dyed-in-the-wool Unschooler!)
Within my own family, I have seen positive results when we take the time to sit down and share our individual goals, find common goals and develop a plan (with input from EVERYONE) to accomplish them. When we allow all members of our family OR our Unschooling Community Co-op (regardless of age) to contribute, share ideas and formulate a plan of action, the momentum is unstoppable, the engagement of the members is joyous and the level of satisfaction is monumental!
- Are you ready to examine some long held, collective beliefs about the automatic and socially acceptable degradation of our youngest humans known as ADULTISM?
- Would you like some tools for releasing these habits and beliefs in your interactions with children?
We have two Retreat Workshops that should prove informative, provocative and challenge you to make some changes or AT LEAST begin to recognize the most socially acceptable form of inequality that exists in all of our lives!
When we begin to become more aware of the ways that we buy into Adultism and begin to change our interactions with the children in our lives, we expereince more peace and harmony within our families and larger communities. This is truly a beginning step to creating a more peaceful world!
As parents we all hope to form good relationships with our children. Along the way, many of us fall back into certain behaviors and ideas that we were raised with: that adults should make ALL the decisions for a younger person without much input from the child.
Lets talk about it!
Creating Peace and Harmony through the Family Meeting
with Doreen Fisher
In an effort to find more harmony, reduce stress, and accomplish more of her family’s individual and collective goals, Doreen Fisher decided to implement a Family Meeting to create a little bit of structure in her family’s highly creative, free and unstructured lifestyle.
The result? They became more grounded as individuals and as a family, found more peace in their home, and began to show up for each other in a way that resulted in measurable movement toward their individual and collective goals.
Join Unschoolers Doreen and Mila Fisher as they share their process for the Family Meeting and discuss the benefits of allowing all family members – of ALL ages – to participate in running family matters and discover their own interests and accountability in the process.