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  • Sarina Shirazee

Old-fashioned parenting

Many of our expectations of children are rooted in old fashioned beliefs that are misinformed about child development. They’re grounded in changing the behaviour we see on the surface, rather than looking at the underlying needs of the child. They’re often based on the idea that adults should be “respected” no matter what (with “respect” often being defined by developmentally inappropriate expectations), and that obedience is a sign of a “good” child. What are we actually communicating to our children with some of these outdated beliefs?⠀

“Respect your elders” = Respect is one-sided and defined by age; a fundamental human right for adults, but not for children⠀

“Suck it up” = Repress your feelings and emotions⠀

“Go to your room” = Deal with your feelings on your own⠀

“Don’t answer back” = Don’t have your own voice⠀

“Do you want the wooden spoon?” = Your behaviour will be met with physical punishment and this is an acceptable way to deal with problems⠀

“Stop throwing a tantrum!” = Display self-control that your brain is incapable of ⠀

“Finish your veggies or you don’t get dessert” = Don’t listen to your body’s signals that are telling you you’re full⠀

“You can’t have that because you didn’t say please” = You’re not allowed to still be learning societal norms and customs⠀

“Give your uncle a hug” = Consent and bodily autonomy don’t matter⠀

I’ve really oversimplified it, but the ramifications here are huge. I imagine this would be hard for some to hear, because some of these ideas are so well-ingrained. It’s normal to feel confronted by information that conflicts with what you already know. These ideas are however based on outdated evidence, opinions and beliefs from generations ago. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, information evolves over time, and we need to evolve with it. We have so much new information available to us now, that we don’t need to do everything the way that our parents did (and we shouldn’t).

Kids are human beings and should be treated that way. It is not their job to meet our needs, it’s our job to meet theirs. Like so many other professionals, I look forward to mainstream practices catching up with the evidence.


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