Friday, March 19, 2010

Honoring the Self in Children

It seems to me that people who have the strongest need to discipline children are the same people who were, by their own admission, mistreated as children. It's sort of like, someone beat, belittled, screamed at me, so no other child should be free to be themselves.

I am very intentional in my parenting, while it may not always come across that way.

The values that I hope to most inspire in my children are self-esteem, creativity, honesty, and kindness.

It seems that we breed most children to be robots. I am not interested in having a robot-child. I would like to see both of my children fulfill their destiny as individuals.

There are a lot of rules that we impose our children that are more about not looking bad ourselves as parents than the actual best thing for the child.

I could spank or berate my children to get them to wear the clothes I want them to wear, to never allow them to speak their minds, to always have them be submissive puppets - but that is not raising children. That forcing them to conform into my image of what I want them to be.

I recently went back to a book I enjoyed several years ago and devoured it's content. Honoring the Self: Self-Esteem and Personal Transformation. By Nathaniel Branden. There are so many good quotes within it, but here are a few that stuck out.

"...imitativeness and conformity to authority are more the norm than the exception among most adults." 128

"We are taught very early to respect external signs above internal signals, to respect the voice of others above the voice of self. A "good" child is one who "minds" his or her elders, who "behaves". We are taught to identify virtue with compliance with the wants and needs of others. We are taught conformity as the ultimate civic good. We are taught obedience as the price of love and acceptance." (130)

"Generally schools are places where children learn not to think, but to follow the was not a place to learn to learn independent thinking, to have one's self assertiveness encouraged, to have one's autonomy nourished; it was a place to learn how to fit into some nameless system created by some nameless others and called "the world" or "society" or "the way life is" and was not to be questioned." (131) (This quote explains the #1 reason why I chose my son's school.)

"To varying degrees, then, the child learns to play dead in order to survive. In order to protect self-esteem, the child learns to surrender more and more of the self. The average child becomes an expert at self-sacrifice at the most profound psychological level: the level of mind and spirit, the level of the life-force itself." (145)

"Independent thinking often brings a person into conflict with the opinions and judgements of others, thus provoking disapproval or animosity." (134)

"When the price of harmony with others becomes the surrender of our mind, an autonomous individual chooses not to pay it." (135)

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