Many people believe they need to mold their children into a certain way of behaving and thinking to conform to societal standards. In the process, the uniqueness, creativity, curiosity of a child is lost, and a banality, conformity is achieved. How often we hear that we value the out of the box thinking and yet we demand that children follow blindly the rules. While we still want our children to be productive (in a good sense of that word) members of society, we should encourage more freedom for them to express themselves, to ask questions and defy the rules, sometimes. The most common excuse parents use is that “they have been parented that way and they themselves turned out just fine”. To me this is exactly the most misleading statement, nobody ever will admit that he turned out wrong!
When we are talking about letting kids have their own opinions, most of mainstream parents believe this is a blasphemy. Children are supposed to be obedient and never question parents. In my humble opinion, if we teach them to be always compliant, they will never change this world for better. I have witnessed many times situations where my 7 year old was whispering into my ear “Why do we need to do that, it doesn’t make sense?”. The reality is that not always a person in charge happens to be smarter than a child and yet the unspoken rule is that a child must remain silent and not question a foolish grown up. My parents certainly taught me to be polite and well behaved, and even though I could see the ignorance of people around me, I never dared to speak up and challenge them. I never learnt to try to change the world around me because of this ingrained “you must respect your elders“. Unfortunately, being a grown up doesn’t always mean that you are smart, wise and making good and sound decisions. It is a shame that we condition our children into silence because of their young age.
I often tried to show my eldest daughter what was the primary use of a certain toy but she kept on reinventing it in a completely new way. After a while, I paused and realized that there is no good or bad way to play with it. In fact, it was me, an adult, being silly and trying to convince her about my righteousness. We need to admit that by molding our children into acceptable replicas of a standard grown up, we are not advancing the human kind at all. We mostly perpetuate the mistakes our parents made when they were raising us and the mistakes their parents had made. It takes a courage to face the truth and admit that “I was raised that way and I turned out just fine‘ is a huge nonsense. My grandparents demanded total obedience from my parents, they were just plain village folks. My parents naturally copied most of these patterns while raising me. They still don’t acknowledge their own mistakes. When I became a mother I was tempted to use their parenting methods as this was what I naturally knew. It took some deep soul searching for me to follow my instincts rather than their advice. It takes a huge leap to break with an old and unlearn it.
Now, some will say that perhaps children should not be allowed a complete freedom and need authorities or they will grow into brats. I have to agree with that. While we want them to learn how to think for themselves and develop critical thinking we still need to teach them that there are times when they need to know how to follow rules. This is a balancing act, quite precarious, in my opinion.