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Sunday, July 10, 2011

What's Wrong With Kids Today?




"Before you go and criticize the younger generation, just remember who raised them." - Unknown

We've all heard the complaints. Today's children are more disrespectful, undisciplined, and have a greater sense of entitlement than ever before. But do they? Alfie Kohn talks about this in his article Spoiled Rotten: A Timeless Complaint. He notes that "Parents today, we're informed,either can’t or won’t set limits for their children. Instead of disciplining them, they coddle and dote and bend over backward to shield them from frustration and protect their self-esteem. The result is that we’re raising a generation of undisciplined narcissists who expect everything to go their way, and it won’t be pretty -- for them or for our society -- when their sense of entitlement finally crashes into the unforgiving real world."

Sound familiar?

He goes on to give 3 examples from authors stating the same concerns, published in 1962, 1944, and 1911, respectively.
"The revelation that people were saying almost exactly the same things a century ago ought to make us stop talking in mid-sentence and sit down – hard. In fact, the more carefully we look at the cranky-wistful conventional wisdom about how children are raised, the less there is to be said in its favor." - Alfie Kohn
I've heard it over and over again. Kids need more discipline! Parents today are too soft! Well, depending on where you look for statistics, anywhere between 65% to 90% of American parents are spanking their kids. Here are some statistics I found:

- 68 percent of American parents think spanking is not only good but essential to child rearing;

- 90 percent of parents spank their toddlers at least three times a week; two-thirds spank them once a day;

- One in four parents begin to spank when their child is 6 months old, 50 percent when their child is 12 months old;

I'd say it's pretty clear that a lack of discipline is not "what's wrong with kids today." So what is wrong with kids today? Could it be that the only thing wrong with them is our perspective of them? Perhaps so.

But I have another theory.

I believe the problem is not a lack of discipline, but a lack of connection. For decades upon decades, we have raised children with fear (Do you want a spanking?), punishment (You're grounded for a week!), shame (You're such a naughty little girl), and coercion (If you don't pick up your toys, I'm throwing them in a trash bag!). We've become so wrapped up in "raising them right" that we've forgotten how to love them right. We've bought into the so-called experts advice of not spoiling them with too much attention, letting them cry it out, and not sparing the rod, and we've pushed aside our own instincts. Thus, parents have drawn a line between themselves and their children that dare not be crossed. "I'm your parent, not your friend!" This has been so ingrained throughout the generations that many don't even question it. (I'm questioning it, are you?) Naturally, we love our children. We give them hugs and praise, conditionally. We buy them the latest gadgets. But are we connected?

For too long, children have been seen and not heard.

It's time to hear them.

For too long, we've raised our children using fear tactics.

It's time to use love tactics.

A century's worth of complaints is more than enough evidence that we're doing something wrong. Depression and mental health issues are a major problem because adults have to put so much into healing their childhood wounds, and some never do heal.

Let's stop wounding them. Instead of punishing, teach. Instead of hitting, hug. Instead of isolating, get close. Instead of coercion, cooperate. Instead of conditional love, love unconditionally. Let's build strong relationships with our children, set good examples for them, and allow them to feel all of their emotions. Let's say "I'm right here with you" instead of "Go to your room!" Let's say "I hear how upset you are" instead of "Quit your crying." It's time to change the way we raise our children.
"There is no single effort more radical in its potential for saving the world than a transformation in the way we raise our children." - Marianne Williamson
Learn about what positive parenting really is. Learn how to set loving limits. Learn how to elicit cooperation through relationship. Learn how to break the cycle of fear, and begin a new cycle of love and connectedness.

If we do this, I guarantee our story will be different a generation from now. Imagine where we could be in a century...


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37 comments:

  1. WoW this really open my eyes... thank you for sharing this with me :D

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  2. I know two young couples that are employing your suggestions almost as though they may have written this article. Sad to say, though they are "listening" and "hugging instead of hitting" and creating an environment where the child has not one shred of fear for either parent, or anyone else for that matter, the children are becoming little tyrants.
    The world around them caters to them, listens to them, allows them to do and express themselves as they see fit, but I can say I have never seen children so angry in my life. They go from being sweet angels one minute to exploding into completely embarrassing characters; Making selfish demands, stubborn, disrespectful and fits of raw rage I never knew possible for children so young... to the point that these "Positive Parents" have to retreat from public view and take their out of control children home and exist in a prison born out of their completely unbalanced approach to their parental duties. They can't engage in grown up activities or feel welcomed in social circles because their children have learned that their "positive parents" will allow them to hijack them at will with no repercussions, other than, "What are you trying to say to us little angel?"
    The answer lies in loving discipline; that affirms, teaches, hugs, listens and yet gets tough when need be.
    Your statistics of how many people spank their children do not take into account how many spank with love, and not out of anger or frustration, which I believe, is not discipline at all, but abuse. Spanking isn't the answer alone, which is what too many stressed out parents employ today. Children should feel safe to grow and explore their world, yet have some sense of fear to do wrong, but at the same time be able to be intimate and comfortable with parents. That is what is missing today, it is the balanced approach to spanking, that includes your great comments about "connection."

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    1. Jeff,
      I would be interested in seeing the interactions of the families you mentioned and know the ages of the children. You mention "children so young" and I wonder if they are in school yet or not. Pre-schoolers and before do not have the capacity to control emotions and behaviors at will. (And it's actually a slow maturation process, lasting well into the 20's.) They could be very well having developmentally appropriate meltdowns where the primitive brain takes over and the child has no control of their actions. Small children feel the loss of something, even in expectation, as a physical pain.

      Feelings must be felt before a person can move on. Repressed emotions leak out under stress. It can certainly be uncomfortable to watch, especially if you have unresolved triggers from your own childhood, but it is temporary (and necessary for emotional wellbeing).

      Those parents may also have slid into 'permissive parenting' where limits are not set, as well. It's fairly common, especially in the first generation to not spank, to go a bit too far into that direction. We believe that permissive parenting is just as emotionally damaging as being too harsh. Children need limits, but they need them set with empathy.

      The statistics of spanking are based on self-reports from parents and grown children and as far as I know, have never looked for differences between application. Hitting someone is an act of violence. Calling it love only serves to confuse the child. It is not emotionally healthy to fear someone you love.

      I also take exception to the idea that it is better to calm down before striking a child. As an adult, planning to batter (assault) someone is a greater offense than acting in the heat of the moment. I understand that it raises a lot uncomfortable feelings to come to terms with the idea that our parents intentionally and deliberately inflicted pain. For the most part, parents do love their children and want what's best for them, but are/were unaware of the toll that fear and shame have on the brain (and indirectly, the rest of the body). Fear is a state of arousal and constant arousal changes the body's physiology. Children are less able to learn in this state, paradoxically creating more of the behavior spanking is intended to stop.

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    2. Laura Ling, I could not have said it better. I too would like to observe those families and their behaviors. I never had to beat/spank my child and I always listened to him and still do at 20. I have a great kid and it's because I did not put the fear in him nor not listen. It's a balance..a healthy balance. I also did not spoil him rotten. It was not always play time like it is with so many young parents of today.

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    3. My husband and I do not spank for our own reasons. My parents did. My mother hauled off and smacked me, usually across the face, when she lost her temper, and looking back, I see her actions as abusive. This was much worse than my father taking me over his knee, which I do not. Just for the record, since the subject of planning/intent is on the table.

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    4. The problem with this debate is that it always seems to swing from one extreme to another. It's possible to raise a child with firmness without ever belittling or laying a hand on him or her; it's possible to raise a child lovingly without expressing empathy for every whim or tuning in to every feeling. High nurture, high expectations, and firm limits that teach children to be responsible, safe, and considerate of others without imposing the law for the sake of the law are all compatible. The specifics of positive parenting always seem to focus on paying more attention, being more empathetic and loving, without much discussion of how to set limits and follow through when they are crossed.

      It's our job as parents to raise children who feel loved, and one of the ways they feel loved is when they realize we're showing them how to be liked and respected by others. My kids have never been grounded, never hit, but...while I wouldn't call it shaming, we're not hesitant to point out when they're acting badly, explaining how they're hurting themselves and others, and we try our best not to shield them from the consequences of their actions.

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    5. I agree with Jeff. As a former preschool teacher of a private montessori school(before I had children of my own) we were trained to give the kids freedom to make their own choices, praise their good choices but never critisize the bad ones, give them all the hugs and love and understanding in the world but we were not allowed to use the word "no" or teach them consequences for bad behavior. The idea was that we would love them and encourage them into making good choices so they would learn that making good choices feels good. As a result, a lot of the kids, even the "good" kids, struggled when they went to public school...they'd get kicked out, suspended or spend all their playground time in the principles office every day...because they were never taught respect for authority, following the rules and consequences. There HAS to be a balance so that kids feel loved AND learn respect for authority. There has to be love AND consequences. If we only show them the love but never teach them self-discipline and respect for authority, if we are ONLY understanding and NEVER point out when they are wrong, they will turn into wretched little human beings who will have a lot of trouble surviving in real life settings. I think most parents are either too tough on their kids and are always shaming them or spanking them OR they refuse to do any kind of discipline at all and their kids are spoiled rotten. The kids who turn out the best are the ones with parents who discipline with a good balance of love and consequences for unacceptable behavior.

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    6. I agree with you, Rebekah. There does have to be love AND discipline and they need to learn respect. Given your examples below, I think we're on the same page. I feel that consequences such as taking away privileges for something entirely unrelated doesn't serve a purpose, but consequences related to the misbehavior or, preferably, consequences that are derived from problem-solving are useful and even necessary. The key is intent. If our intention is to retaliate or make our child feel bad, that will be evident in the consequence, but if our intent is to teach, that will also be evident

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    7. Will Mary Helms, that sounds much like what we do in our home. High nurture, high expectations, and firm limits. Too many people think that positive parenting is soft parenting without limits. It shouldn't be, and that's not the message I intend to deliver here, though it's not always easy to articulate it perfectly. Thanks for chiming in!

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    8. Rebekah -- is that a problem with the kids, or a problem with the public schools? The organization of "authority" and expected "respect" for it is a very artificial construct for a child to have to adapt to. Most do -- but that doesn't mean it's natural, or ideal, or best, or what our children should be striving for. Teaching our kids to respect authority just for authority's sake only for the reason of it's what they'll need to do to cope with public school doesn't mean that it's the better path... it's only the "real life situation" they need to deal with because we've set it up that way.

      If we work from the hypothesis that this sort of authoritative consequences has negative long-term impacts on a young child, then logically it follows that anything that requires teaching them authoritative consequences in order to 'cope' is not something positive. If we were to agree that letting young children self-determine and expect love and empathy is preferable for their health, but that public school cannot tolerate that, then the problem isn't how the children were raised -- it's the school system.

      And to say that there are no consequences ever when raising children positively is just incorrect. If a child breaks a toy, their toy is broken and they don't have it to play with anymore. That's a consequence.

      And 'discipline' means 'teaching' so yes we absolutely must discipline our children. Sometimes that means sitting with them and explaining why they can't have something they want, and empathizing with how rotten they feel about not getting it. But it doesn't mean we're going to let them have it. That's our "authority" at work right there.

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    9. and the beaten are perfect smacking a 2 yr old means he will never have a temper fit... UMM NO My kids were not hit they all had a bad day once or twice as tots as in the beaten kids. They are not 8-17 they don't have those same toddler days. I was not hit I was never in jail.. in fact I have heard ppl say that jails are full now because ppl don't hit their kids.. wait are not the kids not being hit still kids and those in jail adults who were smacked around and REPEATED what they learned. Hey don't hit ppl be nice use your words. Don't pick on someone younger than you.. till you upset mommy then you get cracked ya that's getting your message across.

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    10. Makes sense a hit child is perfect child never has a fit or a bad day wait don't all tots have a fit here or there... Don't hit ppl. Don't pick on someone littler than you. Use your words... TIll you upset mommy then crack. yea that gets the message across. then the jails are full because ppl don't hit their kids anymore... LMAO ummm jails are full of ppl who were smacked. My kids are not in jail but my bils are he hits them he has put fear of him into them... I was not hit my kids are not hit. they are 8-17 not in jail not disrespectful and would never just hall off and hit someone who is littler than then for pissing them off. they have learned to control their emotions as that is all they know...

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    11. "to the point that these "Positive Parents" have to retreat from public view and take their out of control children home and exist in a prison born out of their completely unbalanced approach to their parental duties"

      Why is that when parents put their children's needs before their own wants, they are being "imprisoned" and their kids are "out of control"? Who says successful parenting is raising kids who don't inconvenience you? Sometimes the right thing for the family is to sacrifice fun or convenience for the sake of consistent discipline. Whether that is a party or the grocery.

      And sometimes peaceful parents would rather not have to defend themselves to judgmental onlookers while actively parenting a child in need.

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  3. I really want to achieve what we all seem to be aiming for here with my little boy, loving connection, positive interactions, without him missing out on learning self control and patience etc. This is a good article, but like a lot of what I've heard and read, it hasn't helped with the nitty gritty moments with my 2 year old, when I just don't know what to DO. We do sit down to eat, and we don't throw food - but when it starts happening - how do we stop it, particularly when he isn't a very enthusiastic eater. say "I know you don't like peas and corn, but please leave it on the plate" - but it is still thrown, and I know he knows I don't want it thrown. I'm not going to smack him for it... I just get stuck.

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    1. That is because the idea of "only love and connection and never consequences" is flawed because it is based on the idea that if you are loving and connected with your child they will always love and respect you back. It's not true! Sometimes kids cannot control their emotions or behavior and they NEED their parents to rescue them from themselves. They APPRECIATE it when the parents take control of the situation when they themselves are out of control and grow up feeling more safe and secure that way then if they are simply taught that any emotion or action is perfectly fine and acceptable, then they grow up with no self-control and no respect for rules or authorities. If you start thinking of it as "saving your child from himself" when he doesn't know how to make good choices, it's a lot easier to come up with consequences for those behaviors. If your son is hungry he would eat his food. If he starts throwing his food on the floor, that means he's not hungry anymore. Meal time is over, food is taken away. It's not mean and it's not even a "punishment". You are teaching your son how to act acceptable at meal time. You don't have to yank the food away and say "fine, now you don't get to eat". You can be super nice and say, "I see you're finished with your food. Time to put the food away!" This kind of consequence works in all kinds of situations. If they start acting up outside, say "I see you're ready to go inside now". If they start acting up at the park or at the store, "I see you're ready to go home". He will learn super fast that he will only get to have fun when he behaves in an appropriate way, and yet you've done all the discipline in a calm and gentle way.

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  4. We have family rules in our house and they apply to everyone living under our roof including us the parents. One of them is we don't hit. Show kids the way to behave and express their emotions in an acceptable way and it is likely they will grow up to cope effectively in the real world. Any behaviour that is not acceptable has a consequence but no consequence violates the basic family rules.

    Family rules:

    We are kind and gentle to each other (i.e. no hitting)
    We respect each other
    we speak nicely to each other (i.e. no yelling or shouting at each other even if we are really mad)
    We are honest
    We share and take turns

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    1. Great family rules! For the longest time, we had 4 posted on our fridge. Be kind. Be respectful. Be honest. Do your share. That pretty much emcompasses everything, and we are all held to it, parents included.

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  5. As a parent, I have to say that nothing here was new in terms of your approach. I have never (not sure I could ever have) spanked my daughter, but (or maybe 'so') she shows so few of the issues other kids display.

    I think, to be fair, that her teachers are as much a part of that as my wife and I ever have been; she's enthusiastic, engaged, interested. Sometimes, it manifests as a certain boisterousness, but she'd grown up surrounded by adults who have the respect for her (and good sense) to take 'why' as an opportunity and an invitation.

    She listens...

    Oh, she'll answer back and question decisions and challenge the logic of adults, but she'll also respond to a reasoned argument and accept that her opinion differs from others.

    I see other kids whose parents spank and 'discipline' and 'lay down the law' and they don't listen. They respond out of fear, acquiesce out of a perceived lack of agency, but they have been taught that 'because I said so' is the only justification a stronger or 'more important' person needs to impose their will.

    Of course, I recall a discussion not too long ago that more or less said it all. A group of us discussed corporal punishment and found ourselves split between those who opposed it strongly and those who supported it strongly. When I looked at the two groups, I saw a pretty obvious pattern emerge; almost every opponent of spanking was a parent, but the supporters were childless. Make of that what you will...

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    1. Exactly. My daughter listens to me because she knows I love her and I will listen to reason. "Because I said so" has never been part of my parenting vocabulary. Reason and logic are the best gifts we can bestow upon our children. If they can think for themselves they will know when not to do something and it will save them a world of heartache.

      Fear only makes them seek to get away with things behind their parents back, or lie about little things when they think they will get into trouble. I want my daughter to be able to tell me everything and know that I will always love her.

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  6. There is a big difference between punishment and discipline. I lean on the Institute of Love and Logic for ideas on how to discipline with empathy. On the subject of child behavior, I believe parents need to have realistic expectations. The child's job is not to obey the parent. It's their job to feel out the world around them and constantly challenge the loved ones around them. It's part of becoming integrated with the world. Thanks for the article and comments.

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  7. Love this post! I so agree to raise children we have to lift them up, show & teach them to love themselves, build confidence and so much more. Our hats are many but so worth it as parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, even brothers and sisters we all have the power to inspire kids and make them believe they can achieve more than than they ever thought in every way.

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  8. I was only 20 when my daughter was born and I know I've made many mistakes. I tried the whole spanking thing when she was about 3 and it was ineffective so I quit. I use natural consequences that are as equal to the problem as possible. I explain things to her, assure her that I will always love her no matter what, admit to and apologize for my own mistakes, and try to become a better person myself. Showing her that I am human and fallible I believe has been invaluable. My focus is on teaching her responsibility for her actions and compassion for others. She is now 14 years old and when I look at what a great person she has developed into I know I am doing a good job parenting her.

    I agree that kids are becoming entitled, but I don't think it is because they aren't being "disciplined" enough. Every generation desires to give their children more than they had as a child. Many times this translates into more "stuff" that mom and dad have to work outside the home to buy. This, in turn, equates to less family time and tired parents who are stretched too thin. The happy memories I have as a child are not of the stuff my parents were able to give me. The best memories I have are of quality time we spent together. Just playing games or popping enormous bags of popcorn and watching movies. It's okay to tell a child "no." If they always hear yes, their rage at being told no is something amazing to behold...

    I work in mental health and from what I have seen it it because parents are inconsistent in their parenting, overly permissive, or neglectful. Making that connection with your children is of utmost importance. Teaching them to be responsible for their actions is doing them a favor because when they become adults they will get a slap in the face if they are irresponsible. Showing them compassion and love even when they mess up teaches them that it is okay to mess up because we all do. I also teaches that we just have to get up, dust ourselves off, and keep moving forward after a fall. We are ALL human after all!

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    1. <3 Thanks for the smile Roxanna. Wise words!

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    2. Love! Thanks for sharing! Wise words.

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  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  10. I would very much like to see citations/direct reference to the studies that provided these statistics. The numbers "pro" just seem tragically high.

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    1. http://parentsforliberty.org/peaceful-parenting/the-facts-about-spanking-if-you-love-your-children-watch-this-video.html

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    2. Thanks but, that still only states various correlations and figures, without specifically stating from where the data is derived; where the studies were performed and how they were performed. How the individual parents who contributed were selected to be questioned/petitioned, how the data was compiled, all of these things are very critical to the context of all of these statements. I am skeptical as to whether or not this is sensationalized for effect.

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    3. DB: whether or not it is sensationalized or not is hardly relevant or even important - at least in my opinion. Spanking IS violence, period, whether one person does it or millions...; violence and Love are mutually exclusive... To me the idea of "lovingly spanking" is preposterous and an excuse to NOT examine oneself and one's OWN emotional reactions. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with "discipline".

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  11. Beautiful article! Thanks for sharing!

    My own thoughts:
    - spanking IS violence
    - "artificial" enforced "consequences" ARE punitive
    - EVERY action (or NON-action) has its own NATURAL consequence; no need to add and impose further "consequence"
    - parents need to take care of their OWN boundaries (their OWN limits), NOT impose limits on others (yes, that includes children!); too often parents "give in" (give up their own boundary) and then get angry at the child later and impose "consequences" for something the parent themselves "set up" to begin with!
    - when children "mis-behave", they are the MOST in NEED of LOVING ATTENTION
    - parents need to examine their OWN emotional REACTIONS to their children's behaviours, deal with their OWN childhood pain, before they can effectively RESPOND to their child(ren)
    - a parent's responsibility is their ABILITY to RESPOND effectively, and in order to do THAT, parents must LISTEN to the child first, then listen to their own "inner" reaction, their own inner FEELING about the interaction with the child; too often parents REACT without having "checked in" with their own internal state; parents are too often "out of touch" with themselves, therefore cannot be effectively "connected" with their children (or anyone else for that matter!)
    - parents need to "throw out" - or at least SUSPEND - their own pre-conceived ideas about what it means to be a "good" parent, otherwise they CANNOT effectively RESPOND to each child as each child NEEDS to be responded to in each given moment
    - all children are unique as are the parents, therefore each parent-child relationship is UNIQUE and NOT to be compared to ANY other relationship
    - parents need to GROW WITH their children
    - children are here to TEACH the parents what kind of parenting the child needs to thrive; both child and parent grow together, teach each other and learn from each other
    - parents teach through example what has been before (the PAST), and what IS now; children teach about what is to come; they ARE the future!
    - WORDS do NOT teach; LIFE EXPERIENCE teaches
    - parents need to follow their OWN BLISS and ALLOW all others - including their children! - to follow THEIR own bliss

    ...

    ~ Nicoletta

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  12. A poem from a good friend of mine expresses my own thoughts on parenting beautifully:


    PARENT (by Cynthia Long; www.cynthialong.ca )

    I would do anything
    for my children
    said the loving parent
    Anything
    and so I do
    and so the love flows
    in unrecognizable paths
    along the slope
    spring rain
    and tunnels in the earth
    all lead to the oceans
    great pools
    of tears
    in the planet�s
    eyes

    I would give over
    every moment
    of my life
    I would feed them
    my food
    I would dress them
    in my clothes
    I would warm them
    against the light
    of my heart
    so that all darkness
    vanishes
    from the world
    before them

    I would anchor
    their feet
    in the soil
    of my country
    and yet watch them
    transcend
    all the ugliness
    I dare not see

    I would trade my life
    and take their pain
    but in truth
    I would also
    ask them
    to give their lives
    so that my pain
    by their brilliance
    is shone
    away

    They are me
    I am them
    I am
    forever more
    more than the emptiness
    more than the peace
    that would be
    too easy
    without them

    I would breathe
    for my children
    die
    my spiritual death
    for my children
    as they will theirs
    for me

    But now I know
    as I allow myself
    both to let them go
    and hold them close
    like my own angels
    called from other worlds
    to protect me
    to be by my side
    that in every moment
    of every regret
    still
    I love my children
    and I give thanks
    for the gift of them
    their joys
    their agonies
    and the mirror
    they hold
    dark or clear
    to the image
    of my own
    infant face

    Now
    what I do
    I do for me
    and in this
    I do for them
    not for their lives
    not for their hunger
    but for their
    immortality

    I kiss them
    I release them
    I set myself
    free

    * * * * *

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  13. AND more excerpts from a few poems by the same author (Cynthia Long; www.cynthialong.ca):

    ...
    stand as if
    from the top
    of the tallest tree
    when you look upon your children
    to see them
    within the larger perspective of their world
    rather than up close
    with the magnifying glass
    of a parent’s fear
    ...

    do not make the mistake
    of believing that you create
    your children’s pain
    for this pattern
    is rather
    something that you share
    It is his own
    as much as it is yours
    but you have brought it to life
    for him
    so that he now
    can have his turn
    to dare
    to do it differently
    and to heal
    his own fear
    ...

    And for you
    mother/father to so many fears
    of your own
    remember
    that your role is to love
    yourself first
    in every way you can
    to see
    that what this brings to you
    is a picture
    of your own memories
    your own terror
    of abandonment
    and loss of love
    and that as this repeats
    it is given you
    as a gift
    over and over
    until every last tear
    is wept
    and every last fear
    is shouted
    from your heart
    ...

    Give your fears away
    through honouring them
    and teach this
    to your children
    nothing more
    They will be blessed
    by every breath of consciousness
    you bring
    for this is what transforms us
    and returns us
    to the final truth
    of infinite love
    ...

    what happened to just asking questions
    to just listening
    instead of setting the whole thing up
    all separated
    kids on one side of the fence
    and adults on the other
    I promise you
    it wasn’t kids who came up with that idea
    and if they had asked us
    we would have suggested something much better
    much happier
    all around
    ...

    I really think
    this is a case
    of something that seems so important
    to the adults around me
    but is actually something
    that is not important at all
    But they are so afraid
    of what might happen
    if we tried something new
    that they just insist
    it’s my problem
    something I have to learn
    when really
    it’s something they should be learning
    how to look at things a new way
    how to see what they are afraid of
    and just let it go
    ...

    The innocence of childhood
    has been
    our place of safety
    and when it leaves
    it is always with
    a sense of
    grief and loss
    and if this grief
    has not found a means
    of expression
    it will sink below
    words and deeds
    of anger
    for now too
    there is found resentment
    at having to experience
    such pain
    ...

    This will trigger
    all those who see their role
    as needing to control
    her behaviour
    and yet
    is their comfort
    or her truth
    more important
    after all?

    A child/woman
    often loses
    her sense of self
    in the transition
    and she is no exception
    to this experience
    yet she appears to resist
    all attempts
    to help her grow
    and this is because
    it is not a process
    that can be helped
    Her growth is always
    her own choice
    and this is why
    her ways will not be pleasing
    to another’s eye
    ...

    If you
    and other adults around her
    see the perfection
    that lives within her
    she will find it easier
    to see it herself
    through the loneliness
    and the anger
    and the fear
    ...

    The world is quick to cast
    an angry child
    as a danger
    for these are emotions
    the community has no time for
    no place
    where they can roam
    Remember
    that her anger lies atop
    the many, many tears
    she holds waiting
    for the arms
    that will one day
    hold her safe
    ...

    As you love her
    see the ways
    you may come to love
    the lonely one
    the angry child
    in you
    for your healing
    can assist her
    in discovering
    her own

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  14. www.awareparenting.com
    I LOVE Aletha Solter's work! It is very much aligned with what this article speaks of!

    Thanks again!
    ~ Nicoletta

    ReplyDelete
  15. We live 9 miles from Sandy Hook, the temporary Sandy Hook Elementary School is next door to our kids Elementary School. Although we are further from Boston, it was Boston on the heals of Sandy Hook that did it to our 9 yo daughter. She locks the windows and doors every night. The baby sleeps between us, and most night our 9 yo sleeps in the crib in our room. We, like untold numbers of parents everywhere these days, have to parent by love and instinct. We have to listen to our children - their words and their non-verbals. They are showing us what they need. May we have the patience to listen, hear and see. They will be OK, if only we will listen.

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  16. The fact that a number of commentors can't see to distinguish between raising a child without punitive violence, shame or blame and raising a child with permissiveness and a lack of discipline just goes to demonstrate how far our society has yet to go.

    Come on folks. I don't mean to be unkind, but can you really imagine no option besides treating your children in a way that would (unquestionably!) be abuse if it was one adult to another, or letting them run wild and free with nary a boundary to be seen ?

    I didn't learn one iota of self-discipline from my mother's harangues or smacks. I learned that I was worthless and love was not to be trusted.

    My daughter, at 20 months old, picks up after herself when asked (and sometimes entirely under her own steam!). This is not because of punishment or coercion of any kind. This is because I very gently taught her that tidying up our toys when we're done with them is just part of playing with the toys in the first place. I did most of it myself to begin with, and she gradually learned what I expected of her when I ask her to put her toys back where they belong. This is one example of gentle discipline. It works.

    I think part of the problem is that we expect immediate obedience and compliance. We take it for granted that children should do what we say, even though they actually cannot obey us or control their impulses or emotions at all until a certain age. Pre-schoolers need our calm, firm and loving guidance to learn that kind of self-regulation. They do NOT need to learn to fear us.

    Is it frustrating to repeat yourself several times, or have to drop what you're doing to enforce a boundary ? Yep. But we are grown ups and we can cultivate that kind of patience. We can take a few minutes to collect ourselves when need be. We can screw up and lose our tempers - and APOLOGIZE and strive to do better, rather than justify our own poor behaviour.

    Sorry this is kind of all over the place. That's my mind for you.

    Thanks for a great article.

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