Your Child, Your Rules
No, I am not a parent. But I did closely watch my own parents growing up. I grew up in an emotionally abusive environment. My parents put each other down and put me down as well.
I learned to never speak up for myself unless I was prepared to deal with emotional abuse. I learned that respect is only given when you are an adult. I learned that you are not entitled to opinions, feelings, or your own thoughts without approval from adults. Most importantly, I learned that these views are absolutely wrong.
Just because you went through abuse as a child, does not mean the cycle needs to continue. There are correct ways to parent and there are wrong ways to parent. I may not be a parent but I do know how to properly treat people.
I have seen some parents be really abusive to their children without even noticing. You may think of your child as your property. However, they are their own individual person. Think of your child as a tiny person that has not yet experienced the world for themselves.
If you would not do or say something to an adult, why would you subject your own child to it? A child deserves the same respect that you would give an adult.
I was often told I was lazy, worthless, and overweight. I would never call anyone else names like that. My parents would not have talked to other people like that. But since I lived in their home, they could treat me any way they wanted. Don’t call your child names or degrade them. If you would not want someone to say things like that to you, don’t say it to them.
Your child is delicate. They are just starting to form their opinions of the world. Use gentle hands to guide them. Respect that they know what they think, feel and believe. Make sure they understand that they are allowed to be their own person with feelings, thoughts, and opinions.
Showing respect teaches respect. If you want your child to be a good person and to respect others, they have to see respect from you. Children imitate us. They want to be like the people they most love and admire, their parents.
“Go give them a hug” is all too common a phrase I have heard in my life. When I was very young, I started getting apprehensive about hugs and touching. It made me uncomfortable. Yet, my parents always made me give people hugs and forced affection. This taught me that I did not have the right to my own body or that I could choose to consent or not.
Allow your children to set their own boundaries. If they do not want to hug family or friends, respect that. It’s their body, therefore, it is their choice. This will help set boundaries with people later in their own adult life as well. It teaches the importance of consent. It teaches them that they have the ability to say no.
We don’t yet know, above all, what the world might be like if children were to grow up without being subjected to humiliation, if parents would respect them and take them seriously as people. — Alice Miller
Don’t laugh at your child’s mistakes. It may be funny to you when your child is running so fast that they run into a door. I get it. However, to them, it is humiliating. Do you like to make mistakes in front of people? When people laugh at your mistakes, how do you feel? Try to remember that your child has feelings.
Listen to your child. Really listen. Don’t interrupt them. Don’t think about what to say next. Just focus on letting them communicate for themselves. This teaches children that they can always speak out against anything they believe is important. They will learn to use their voice.
I have been shut down for my opinions and thoughts. I would hear “You’re young, you don’t get to have opinions. You’re wrong”. Let your child develop their own opinions on things. Children may be young and have yet to experience the world, but don’t shut them down due to lack of experience. If anything, children can show you an unbiased view of the world.
Children feel. They have thoughts, opinions, and feelings. Privacy is so important to them. Don’t share their own private feelings with others outside of your home unless they approve. This helps build their trust in you. If you keep their private feelings private, then they will come to you when they need someone to turn to. If you prove to be honest and trustworthy, your child will never feel the need to hide things from you.
Children are not your property
Your job as a parent is to teach your child how to be a good person. You are teaching them how to live. You provide guidance.
Children do not constitute anyone’s property:
they are neither the property of their parents nor even of society. They belong only to their own future freedom. -Mikhail Bakunin
Just because a child is under your care, does not mean you own them. You brought them into the world. You took responsibility for them. But you do not own them like a piece of property.
Too often, parents complain when people tell them how to parent. They say “well it’s my kid”. No, it is a child under your care. You do not own them. You do not get to choose to abuse your child. It is your responsibility to make sure that your child grows up feeling loved and safe. If you emotionally or physically abuse them, you do not deserve to have a child.
“Come here, I’m pulling your hair up”. So often as a child, I had to go through hours of my mom braiding my hair and combing it back. It was painful and I didn’t even want that. I was dressed, I was designed, and I was taught to ignore my own thoughts and feelings. Teach kids to be independent. If it looks like your child can get dressed on their own, do their own hair, and fend for themselves, let them!
Too often, parents seem to believe that it is their right to control their children. From dictating what they will wear, how the child will do their hair, how they will think, feel, and breathe. It is not your job as a parent to control your child. You should be teaching them to make their own decisions. Ask what they want to wear to school. Let them brush their own hair. Ask about their feelings and thoughts.
Be your child’s friend and guidance, work together, and laugh together. Have important discussions. Answer every question with true honesty. Children are never too young for honesty. Let them come to you for guidance and support.
When your child is heartbroken, support them and make them see that it will be okay because life goes on. When your child has a question, share your knowledge and resources. Be their role model. Show them how to treat others with respect. Carry yourself as a responsible adult that they look up to. Show your child how to make safe decisions and how to also take risks.
Remind yourself that your child is their own person. They will think and feel differently than you do. It is not your job to force your views onto them. Your child is not “yours”. Don’t control them. Guide them. Allow them to build up their own belief system. Your child will not ever be what you want them to be because they will be what they want to be.
They are not your property.