Saturday, June 16, 2007

Thoughts on Children and Obedience

So, laying in bed half asleep this morning as my DD yelled and pushed and asked for "nummies" in the most ungracious way possible (not a morning child...), I had a musing.

Children, I thought, do not automatically honor or respect the needs of their parents. The infant does not care (does not even notice) that his mother is quite literally two steps from completely insane when he wakes every hour for a week during his growth spurt. The toddler does not care that her insistance on changing her outfit 50 times before leaving the house is making everyone late. The young child will recognize the feelings of his parents, but still places his own *wants* above his parents' *needs* in his own sensibility. This is a fact, pure and simple. It is not a FAULT, and they cannot be "held responsible" or "programmed out of it." It is developmental egocentrism and purely appropriate for their ages. It is how they are naturally equiped to get what they need in a world that often doesn't want to give it to them.

They do wish the approval and love of their parents, that bit is programmed in. They need not just our physical-needs-met-care but also our cuddles (in a very literal sense, as anyone who has even briefly studied developmental psychology knows). They will do things to get them.

So, to make a long story short, children come factory-supplied with the programming that makes them want to obey us. They do not come with the ability to recognize and yield to the needs of others - this develops over a long period of time.

Hence, children come programmed with the desire to yield to an authoritarian parent, but the consensual parent has an uphill battle to fight against the natural tendencies of their children. In this sense, while consensual parenting seems to be the nicest gentlest most respectful way to parent, consensual parenting in actuality disrespects the fact that children by their very nature want to please their parents. Babes were programmed to get what they need from us from the beginning - hence dependence. There cannot be an egalitarian relationship. There never was.

At some point in the middle, *I personally think,* there is the spot that pulls these concepts into balance. While I have been reading with respect the thoughts of those parents who practice consensual parenting, I have come to the conclusion that I have no respect whatsoever for the concept. It is simply not the natural way that children relate to themselves, their parents, their families, or the world. Children come preprogrammed to find this place and this balance, and in attempting to respect them, we are in fact disrespecting their own natural placement of themselves in the world.

I am heading out the door in a minute here, to go grocery shopping. My Toddlerness will be unhappy, no matter how much I involve or let or employ whatever many million tricks I've accumulated over 7 years of parentood. But I need to get food - I quite literally used the last bits of food in the house to make breakfast. And she needs to come with me. Am I disrespecting her? Well, no, I'm thinking...getting food for her to eat is highly respectful of her needs. We just have to do something she thinks is unpleasant. Eh, that's life.


bellebearberry said...

this is a really thoughtful blog message - thank you for sharing

~L~ said...

this is really putting the screw in the wood for me. This was well done.

Marie said...

what a fantastic way to word how allot of us feel.