Observing how many adults act around children, I have noticed there is a common tendency to treat them as being lesser. This comes from a belief that a child is born empty and that as he/she accumulates experience, knowledge and skills, only then does the child become worthy of being considered equal. Sometimes this may not occur until they reach their mid-twenties or above! I remember as a teenager aching to be older so that I could be taken seriously and without being dismissed as inferior.
There is an adult propensity to dismiss a child and all that they have to offer, because in our arrogance, we believe that they don’t have very much to offer at all yet, and that we have to instill in them everything we want to see come out of them.
We are of the belief that a child is an empty vessel, starting from scratch, and that it is up to us to fill them up with knowledge and teach them the ‘right’ way to behave. Many parents also hold the belief that kids are too young to understand, too young to be aware, too young to know what the right and important choices are, or just simply, they need to be protected.
But what if our children are born already full, wise and knowing and we don’t give them the opportunity to recognise this, articulate this and live this?
As adults we tend to also hold the superiority card, believing that because we have lived longer and because we say so, we are therefore wiser, deserve more respect and expect children to simply do as they are told.
Quite often this can be communicated to a child with dismissiveness, frustration or anger. This whole approach to children is also reinforced by the education system, so that it is rare for a child to be consistently confirmed for who they truly are.
When a child is treated in this manner, how does this actually make the child feel? I know when I was a child I was quite crushed, to say the least.
There can be three ways a child can cope with this – either they can:
- Give up and withdraw
- Rebel or
I remember feeling of very little worth and always feeling like I had to prove myself, yet at the same time not get in the way. I chose option C – I conformed! I became ‘good’ at following the rules… doing my homework, doing as I was told, even when I didn’t want to, and telling others what they wanted to hear at the expense of how I was feeling. I buried my true self and my true voice, feeling that I wouldn’t be understood or that I wouldn’t be listened to. When I did show my true feelings, I felt they were not really respected and whenever I did voice things that were deeply heartfelt, they were quite often derided as being too innocent and naïve.
The consequence of the above choices ultimately only undermined my own sense of self-worth because I was constantly compromising myself. Furthermore, in not understanding that it was in my own reactions and choices that I was eroding my sense of self worth, not necessarily how I was being treated, I went into feeling like a victim of life.
It was clear to me that no matter how ‘good’ I was, I was never going to be able to achieve the recognition and love that I was seeking from the adults around me.
It didn’t occur to me that I could love and confirm myself for myself. As a result I placed a lot of expectations on myself, and as I grew up into a young woman I derived a lot of recognition and satisfaction from being efficient at work and getting the job done well (a little arrogance was formed as a result) – a poor substitute for the love I was really craving.
But what if we were to honour our children for who they are and not what they do? How would this then make a child feel?
What if we stop for a moment to consider our children – and I mean, really consider them as an equal to adults? What if we stopped to consider the vastness of what they perfectly bring just by being who they are?
What if we stopped to consider that when they are born they are already whole; that they are already glorious and are already little bundles of huge wisdom and lived experience. What if we stopped to consider that by having them in our families they are an enormous singular and unique addition to the whole, with the potential of contributing their amazing piece of the jigsaw that makes up the one humanity?
I know that when I hold my children in equality and value everything within them, they feel:
Confident to express
Allowed to make mistakes
Allowed to claim they are imperfect
Allowed to accept themselves as they are
Open to others
Open to love
Open to giving and open to receiving
Open to being themselves.
When they meet new people they don’t hold back from expressing confidently and truthfully. They don’t get caught up in the cycle of feeling inadequate and worthless because they are a child. They don’t get caught up with cliques and jealousy over friends; they are open to all and play equally with all. In their naturalness they inspire so many adults and other children around them as they constantly inspire me.
Within our families we have access to so much love, wisdom and common sense simply through our children, so when I hear the adult response claiming that children do not know, or are too young to be self-aware, I beg to differ. The truth is, children are very aware, and very self-aware, but because the trend isn’t to allow children to give voice to what they are ‘feeling’, but only ‘doing’, we are missing out on a very rich and expansive vocabulary and dialogue with our young ones.
Yes – we do see a lot of ill behaviours in children, however is it possible that it is our misinterpretation of their essence that actually precipitates this behaviour? Could it be that this ill behaviour is simply a reaction to the fact that we don’t honour them – truly hear them and truly meet them for who they are?
As both a parent and teacher, I have observed how children always joyfully rise to the occasion when they are treated as equals and are given responsibility; they open up and get super engaged and are enthusiastic all the time – an absolute joy to observe.
As adults we can become arrogant with the ingrained belief that with age we have superiority because we have lived longer, but when we dismiss our children as being less, and because they end up believing this, then these consequences play out, and like a catch 22, we believe what we see, and so we go round in the same circle again and all is repeated…
As a child I remember how it felt not to be given the opportunity to put voice to everything I knew to be true, which was deeply felt, but lay buried well on into my adulthood. It was through having met Serge Benhayon and in having attended Universal Medicine workshops that I have opened up to feeling how painful shutting down my true feelings and voice as a child was for me. I am now making sure I don’t repeat the cycle with my own children. They are met and loved for who they are, and their feelings and true voice are honoured daily.
By Michelle McWaters, Bath, UK