Why can’t children have preferences?
Why won’t adults respect a child’s preferences?
Why can adults have preferences and no one bats an eye?
I’m sure you have strong preferences for some things and you won’t budge on them. Do you sneer at a child’s preferences?
The child who is 100% obedient is not socialised. As great as we think it might be to have our children do as we say without question, it isn’t. We don’t want to raise our children so that they don’t question things. That’s “sheep farming,” not parenting.Pennie Brownlee
Children aren’t treated like people.
Coercion is about control.
I overhear parents with their kids at sports practices and games, restaurants, medical waiting rooms, and parks. I’m often horrified at how parents speak to their children. They don’t talk to their spouses or other adults that way!
I know which of my children prefers broccoli over carrots. I know who doesn’t like pork and black pepper. I know which colors they like. I know their favorite cups and plates.
I respect them.
No one expects me to eat something I don’t like. No one ridicules or cajoles me to “try just a bite.” No one expects me to wear a yellow shirt, even if it was a gift. I don’t think I look good in yellow. I’m an adult and I won’t tolerate being treated like that. How would I talk down to a child like that?
There’s really no such thing as the “voiceless.” There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.Arundhati Roy
We work together.
Family dynamics can sometimes be difficult with six individual people.
While respect works best from the beginning, when children are very young, it’s not too late to make amends with older kids and teens.
Diana Baumrind created a commonly-referenced categorization of three parenting styles in the 1960s.
In the early 1980s, Baumrind’s parenting style model was expanded using a two-dimensional framework parental responsiveness and parental demandingness by researchers Eleanor Maccoby and John Martin. They further fleshed out Baumrind’s permissive parenting to create a separate offshoot — uninvolved parenting, also known as neglectful parenting.
Parenting styles typically refer to types of discipline parents hand out to children.
- Authoritarian Parenting is defined as the adult gets their needs met at the expense of the child. (Parent gets their way. Strict and harsh.)
- Authoritative Parenting is defined as responsive to the child’s needs while maintaining limits and consistency in enforcing boundaries. Consistency.
- Permissive Parenting is defined as the child gets their needs met at the expense of the parent. (Child gets their way. Parent doesn’t say no.)
- Uninvolved Parenting is defined indifferent to children’s needs and uninvolved in their lives. Neglect.
Respectful or Positive Parenting can be defined as both child and parent being able to meet their needs in a way that is acceptable to both. While many seem to think this is too permissive or perhaps even neglectful, it’s based on mutual respect with a parent setting healthy boundaries. It is beyond authoritative style by respecting a child’s need emotions as an equally important person.
Parenting styles are perhaps easily compared to leadership styles. We’ve all worked for horrible bosses or appreciated good leadership.
- Autocratic Leadership relies on coercion, and its style is paternalism, arbitrariness, command, and compliance. The autocratic leader gives orders which must be obeyed by the subordinates. He determines policies for the group without consulting them and does not give detailed information about plans, but simply tells the group what immediate steps they must take.
- Democratic or Participative Leadership is a managerial style that invites input from employees on all or most company decisions. The staff is given pertinent information regarding company issues, and a majority vote determines the course of action the company will take.
- Free-Rein or Laissez-Faire Leadership allows maximum freedom to followers and gives employees a high degree of independence in their operations. A free rein leader completely abdicates his leadership position, to give all responsibility of most of the work entrusted to him to the group which he is supposed to lead, limiting his authority to maintain the contact of the group with persons outside the group.
- Paternalistic Leadership is when the leader assumes that his function is paternal or fatherly. His attitude is that of treating the relationship between the leader and the group as that of a family with the leader as the head of the family. He works to help, guide, protect, and keep his followers happily working together as members of a family. He provides them with good working conditions and employee services.
- Benevolent Leadership is committed to making society better both inside and outside their organizations. Benevolent leaders are servant leaders, approachable and accessible.
Many of us grew up with authoritarian parents and autocratic leadership.
We need to shift the paradigm to respect and benevolence.
What Respectful Parenting is NOT:
- Blind Obedience
What is Respectful Parenting?
It took a lot of work for me to shift my parenting style. Since I had no models to show me the way, I had to work it through by trial and error.
I see how my parenting mistakes affected my eldest child. I see how my harshness hurt my middle girls.
My son never experienced any of that and he flourishes.
What would my girls be like if I had respected them from day 1?
I love this: 15 Habits of Respectful Parents
How I have changed my parenting:
I seldom say no without an explanation. I redirect. I offer alternatives. I explain why something might be a bad idea at this time. I ask questions to help my child with critical thinking.
We don’t make our kids share. They work out how to take turns by themselves.
We don’t force them to say please or thank you. But kids are so empathetic and they remind me to say it!
I don’t force my kids to express affection. This teaches consent.
Every person has preferences and we try to defer to everyone with different tastes, but we also have to all work together for harmony. There’s always something at mealtime that everyone likes.
We discuss courtesy and expectations. We discuss feelings. We teach empathy.
How you tend to your child’s feelings now is how they will do it for themselves later.Chanelle Sowden
A positive approach seeks both to understand and coach the child while maintaining healthy boundaries.
I don’t desire to break my children’s wills.
Many Christian parenting materials encourage parents to break kids with physical violence and humiliation into blind obedience and this causes many problems later, and the trauma of abuse.
School models encourage teachers to maintain classroom management with shame, humiliation, and threats.
I want authentic relationship with my children. I want my kids to have the freedom to say no, talk back, and question so we can discuss cause and effect.
I am proactive and clearly state my expectations and why. My kids are welcome to politely argue. Sometimes I change my mind or we work for a compromise together.
It’s about give and take. It’s about respect.
I want my kids to learn how to make wise decisions, so they must be able to make poor choices and learn from them.
This doesn’t mean I don’t protect my kids. If they choose not to bring a coat when it’s cold or to wear dressy sandals for a hike, I ask if they think that’s wise and then I toss a coat or extra shoes in the car just in case.
We don’t use punishment as a parenting tool. I would never make writing a punishment. Natural consequences are enough. I use positive reinforcement and guide my kids to develop their own internal motivation and self control.
I use my life experience to guide my kids while allowing them to maintain autonomy.
Screen Positive Parents:
We have no limits on screentime or arbitrary rules about technology and I don’t police my kids. Devices go to the charging station at bedtime. We do turn off the Wi-Fi by midnight so we all sleep better.
Screen positive parenting is a way to celebrate with our kids their love of technology while honoring our concerns.
- Recognize that technologies such as computers, devices, games, and shows are a valuable part of modern life.
- Value the joy and learning and opportunity that screens can bring.
- Honor the rights of children to access this technology so prevalent in society.
- Be critical of the way consumerist society has harnessed media to advertise to children and wishing to protect our children’s rights to be free from marketing.
- Challenge the societal norms and prejudices present in much children’s media (such as kids’ shows being overly male, overly white, overly hetero, and physically normative).
- Understand the vast resources poured into manipulating children to spend more time on screen technology.
Screen Positive Parenting: the Parent Allies Guide to ScreentimeSource: Parent Allies
Think about that for a moment. I am not the police. I am a parent.
This is not my job.
I encourage my kids to budget their own time and set their own limits and develop their own self control. Sometimes, they learn the hard way when the teen stays up too late and has to work the next morning.
No one polices me on the computer or tablet and I know I have tasks to complete for a smooth running household and home business.
We discuss inappropriate memes, sites, apps and our kids ages 13-18 have private social media accounts and certain guidelines for their protection.
My kids know what they should do and they do it with few reminders. But as a parent, coach, guide…I do remind them and I try not to nag. I am teaching them executive function.
I am my kids’ partner in learning how to human.
Society would rather see “well behaved” children than bold, vulnerable, honest, open, vibrant, curious, FREE children, because those children grow up knowing their power and free people are dangerous to a society that values compliance over happiness.Oppressed To Oppressor
Common Parenting Issues
What about hitting?
It’s never ok. I am a pacifist, nonviolent advocate. Hitting is usually about not having the language to express frustration. I help by having a time-in until the child is ready to vent in a healthier way.
What about tantrums?
This is communication. It’s the parent’s job to remain calm. Keep the child safe until the tantrum is over. Be proactive to understand causes and be proactive to prevent the tantrum next time.
What about yelling?
It happens. Apologize and try to remain calmer. Model better behaviors.
What about timeout?
I don’t isolate my kids. We do time-ins where we sit near each other until we’re ready to communicate our big feelings and work through the problem together.
What about rewards? What about chore charts? What about praise?
I don’t offer rewards but model intrinsic motivation. A child knows when she has accomplished something and I share in her joy.
My goal is to have a peaceful, respectful relationship with my kids as they grow into young adults.
It took an awful lot of reading to find alternatives to the way society treats children and expects children to be parented and taught.
I always felt there were better ways than what I experienced as a child and what I learned in teacher training at university and saw in the classroom.
I had to re-parent myself and heal my wounds while attempting to parent my own kids. I’m growing up while my kids are growing up too.
- Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships by Marshall B. Rosenberg
- Escape from Childhood by John Holt
- Parenting for Social Change: Transform Childhood, Transform the World by Teresa Graham Brett
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