by Dale J. Ross M.D.
I was visiting a grade-school one day. I like doing that sort of thing because kids can be fun and I can always use more fun in my life. In this one classroom a young boy was sitting on the floor with his pencil and paper on his chair doodling. The rest of the class was learning arithmetic. He was the only one on the floor. I watched and later asked about this. The teacher explained that they did not tell children no and that children in the school were never told no; this would be detrimental to their learning process. I was intrigued by the line of thinking and asked more. She was proud to elaborate because this was an important achievement in their state (it was apparently a state-wide initiative). Children were to make their own choices, they would have complete explanations of the benefits and consequences and then they would have to choose for themselves. Further, it would be harmful to force the will of the teacher on the student which would be looked at as an atrocity.
Later in the day I asked what did she do when there was a fire drill. She lined out the process and where the children were required to be and how they stood quietly in single file and where they would walk to in an orderly way and how they would have to maintain silence and stand in their spot and so forth. I asked what would happen if a child did not want to stand in line. It turns out he would be sent to the principal’s office for punishment. I went back to the earlier topic of teaching and asked about the responsibility to teach a child arithmetic. Since really the purpose of sending a child to school is to have them learn, I became more interested and concerned with what would therefore be taught by this institute’s approach.
This approach is not particular to the public school system, nor is it an attestation of all activities and tactics employed in all schools. This is a foundational sentiment consistent with what is becoming the predominant stance with the changes to our society. Just one example of how far this is going is supported by the recent California law mandating the acceptance of a child’s desire to use whichever restroom, shower, or changing room that they desire. This is not allowed to be trumped by any other parent or even person already present and occupying the space that might not want to have, for example, teenage boys and girls showering together after the homecoming football game. This law also does not discriminate ages so that a 17 year old boy cannot be questioned when he chooses to enter the girls restroom whether it is for the high-school girls or one for the first and second graders. Taking a stance that we need to teach and direct our children, to hold to worthwhile standards, and even be ready to tell them that a choice is wrong is a social construct that not only weakens but usurps a parent’s role and duty to be and act as a parent. Rather, social discretion dictates choice be couched in a “whorled peas/world peace” concept: all individual choices are personal and therefore appropriate for that person to make and everyone else should learn to understand and accept each other’s choices because that will make them stronger.
Many choices are harmful, hurtful, detrimental, and even stupid. Yes, people can make such choices. I have been witness to many stupid actions – personally I really strive to not teach youth how to perpetuate them though. Building on concepts and principles to create a foundation for a happy, well-adjusted, caring youth requires providing fundamental precepts that will be forged into components of such a foundation that becomes an adult’s basis for life choices.
In another illustration, I passed by a young boy at a big city fair recently. In just a very brief exchange where I observed body stance, posture, eye-contact, and motion, this child demonstrated that he had begun learning important base principles: respect, politeness, others first vs. me first, confidence, happiness. I saw many other children and examples of degrading behavior from children towards their parents and grandparents. I saw and felt the hurt that some of these adults experienced as it was so visibly eating them away. I strongly believe this to be a direct consequence of not holding our young accountable and loving them enough to teach them “yes” and “no” and when to properly apply these concepts.
Children need love. Children need good food and lots of running all over exploring their world. They also need to learn things – respect, responsibility, the rules of society good or bad that must be respected, and many other things. One common base tenet that I have used to help parents/teachers to understand this point is in this simple sketch: many in society have begun living out the words quite finite and literally when they are “raising a child.” They struggle, fight, and push to raise, or create, a child. I remind these parents/teachers that we are starting with a child and our goal is to raise an adult. We instruct, educate, and set the basis for a child to achieve that which they were created for. Take a child; each responsible adult figure involved should see how each in their opportunity can individually take part in adding a component of what can become an adult worth honor and respect because of what was given them as they grew. Developed society now however has managed to have a plethora of 25-40+ year old children running around acting just like what we expect 3-8 year old children who have not been taught better to act like. Society is busy interjecting itself to “raise children.” What once was direct community concerned family, friends, and teachers applying consistent parameters has evolved into a mixed, mashed, gamoushed, concoction of group consciousness and, often, government mandated “whorled peas” morality. I hope and pray for my own and those that I ever come in contact with that someone will love these young ones just a little bit more than that – at least.
Parenting/teaching can be a heartfelt struggle against a path of less resistance and that which forges our heart’s desire. Are you ready and able to shoulder your share of the burden; joy will follow!
Future Article: ADHD