November 23     

Today's quotation:

By teaching our children to stay in line we create well-behaved followers.  While this may make parenting a bit easier, it has enormous costs later in life.  These same children grow up to be unhappy adults who desperately want to lead their own lives, yet lack the necessary skills to do so.

Cheryl Richardson

Stand Up for Your Life

Today's Meditation:

I see this trait in many of my high-school students.  They're unable to function on their own without someone else telling them what to do-- and often, that someone else is the phone that they're unable to put down.  I think that I would add to Cheryl's first sentence "to stay in line or depend on their phones," because the electronic age has taught parents a new way to control the behavior of their kids-- give them screens to watch, and they'll be occupied and they won't bother us.  Unfortunately, though, they're still not learning the life skills that they need to deal with life later.

We do need kids to "stay in line" in certain situations, especially when they're part of groups such as classes.  But kids also should be able to live the freedom that is inherent in being a young human being.  They should be free to explore, to challenge, to experiment, to make mistakes-- even huge ones.  A child who isn't making mistakes and learning from them is going to grow into an adult who may or may not be able to deal with the realities that he or she is facing because he or she has not learned the skills of problem resolution or simple coping strategies.

What does it mean to lead our own lives rather than being followers?  It means that we make our own decisions without consulting with someone else; it means we forge our own path without looking for validation from someone else; it means that we determine our own ideals and principles and ethics without adopting someone else's.  It means that we love and respect ourselves enough to trust ourselves to take steps that we believe in, without having to consult with anyone else about whether or not they're the right steps to take.

We do a lot of damage to our children when we turn them into followers who aren't learning how to lead themselves through life.  It's not up to us to "keep them in line"; rather, it's up to us to provide them with an environment in which they'll find the safety necessary for them to lead their own lives and feel secure enough to take risks now, when they're young, that won't have such drastic consequences as some of the risks that they'll take later.  Let's help our children to grow up to be able to deal with what life has in store for them, and not try to keep them in line for our own comfort or convenience.

Questions to consider:

What are some of the risks involved in letting kids grow and explore and learn?  Why do so few people allow this to happen?

Why do we tend to try to keep children "in line"?  What are some of the ways that we do this?

What would it mean to let children "be themselves?"  Is that possible?

For further thought:

A low self-love in the parent desires that his or her child should repeat his or her character and fortune.  I suffer whenever I see that common sight of a parent or senior imposing his or her opinion and way of thinking and being on a young soul to which he or she is totally unfit.  Cannot we let people be themselves, and enjoy life in their own way?  You are trying to make another you.  One's enough.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

more thoughts and ideas on children



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