When Children are not Regarded as Actual PeopleBy Darlene Ouimet
I was thinking about the attitude that so much of society has when it comes to children; that children don’t really have rights. That they don’t have a right to have an opinion because it is believed by so many that they don’t’ really “know” anything yet so they are not given a voice. It is believed that they don’t even have real feelings OR a right to their feelings… (think about how children are commonly disciplined) that they don’t deserve respect; think about how they are treated and spoken to by most adults and often bullied and threatened by teachers. It isn’t that children don’t need guidance and ground rules, but it is the WAY that it is done that is such a big problem as though they NEED to be disciplined and to know their place ~ or they might become crazed malfunctioning members of society. When this is the attitude that children are regarded with, they are actually disregarded as people. They are “devalued” meaning that they are defined by the actions of others as having “less value”.
Did you know that historically, it was believed that parents needed to get total mastery over their children right away or the children would run all over them and end up being the ones with all the control over the parents. Parenting authorities wrote volumes about how to “break their spirits” so that children would never question the authority of a parent. It was believed that children had no memory prior to the age of five years old, so it was believed that no damage would be done to the child if harmful means were used to gain this control. I often wonder how much of this attitude has been carried over into present day belief systems and parenting ways.
Have you thought about what actually happens to these children who are not regarded as PEOPLE with equal value? I mean did you ever think that maybe this is the root of the reason that we have so much struggle with depression and low self esteem issues in our society? Why do so many people, including some teachers and parents believe that these disregarded disrespected children will become well adjusted adults?
How would that even be possible? How can someone go from NOT being valued or regarded as a person with equal rights, to suddenly accepting responsibility and living up to the expectations of the very people who originally determined that they didn’t have equal (if any) value?
What about that expression “Children should be seen and not heard”?
Or should I say Children should NOT be seen OR heard. Perhaps, (the adults who regard children in this way believe that) children should be sequestered until they are around twenty years old, and then they should emerge into society, fully responsible, fully functioning, and fully in charge of their own lives, self esteem, confident that they can make a difference in the world and a contribution to society.
Does that make sense to you? It seems to me to be the way that children are regarded when it comes to adults. That first they are raised being defined as “less than everyone else” and then expected to be fully functional, together, ready to get married and have children of their own!
Children have rights as PEOPLE. I was a child who wasn’t regarded as a valid person. I didn’t have a voice. I didn’t have a stamp of approval. I was pushed away, hushed, threatened, violated, beaten, betrayed and it was communicated to me in so many ways that I didn’t matter. I was not a valid part of the big picture. I was not really necessary to the overall success of the family dynamic. I had my first serious depression when I was ten years old. (There is a reason for that!) No one thought about what caused it. It was “just the way I was”. I tried harder and harder. AND then, when I “grew up” I was reprimanded and judged for my difficulties with life, for my choices in men, and basically just for the way that I “turned out”.
BUT how did the adults in this dysfunctional society think I would turn out when I was not valued or validated as a child in the first place? And the answer to that question is that they didn’t THINK at all. I was only a child after all, what was there to think about? AND that is my point.
Don’t those adults remember what it felt like to be that same kid who was treated like they didn’t really matter? Don’t they remember the shame, the humiliation, the loneliness and the confusion? Don’t they realize where their own low self esteem came from in the first place? I guess not. But this cycle has to stop and all the bullying programs in the world are not going to stop the bullying unless the adults realize that they are the ones teaching (by example) the bullying to the kids.
Children are PEOPLE. And I am speaking for all of us who were ALSO once children. Young people have EQUAL value to everyone else. (I am not talking about equal authority; I am strictly talking about value.) Children need love and nurturing so they can love and nurture. They need to be respected so that they learn to respect. Kids need to be validated and to be heard so that they can grow in self esteem and confidence. Children need to be taught by example how they should treat others. It has to be modeled by the adults!
When people are disregarded we learn to disregard. Some learn to disregard others, some of us disregard ourselves, some people learn to do both. When the message is “you don’t matter” the results are not going to be high self esteem.
What messages did you get as a child and how did they impact YOUR life. Can you see that those messages were in fact lies? What beliefs about yourself developed as a result of those false messages about your value? Please share.
Busting through the FOG ~ there is freedom on the other side!
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