The other day, a good friend of mine came over to my house with her two-year old while our boyfriends went out for a drink. My daughter was on the floor playing with her toys, and the little boy was sitting quietly on the couch watching Caillou while my friend and I were talking. All of a sudden, the little boy decided that he wanted to stand on my couch! My friend started gently reprimanding him, telling him that we don’t stand on couches. Alas, a two-year old will be a two-year old, and he wasn’t going to get down without a fight. And so I looked at my friend’s boy, and gently told him that his mom was right, and he needed to get down, because I didn’t like it that he was standing on my couch.
And he got down. You see, there’s an expectation with my family and friends that we all parent together and help each other out. If my daughter (when she is older) acts up, not only do I hope that my friends, family, and heck, even strangers, intercede and let my child know that what she is doing is unacceptable, I actually expect it! My child needs to know that her father and I aren’t the only authority figures around, and that all adults are responsible for them
This isn’t a new way of seeing things… In fact, in almost all cultures but the North American culture, it is expected that not only will the parents discipline their children, but all adults involved in their lives. Children are taught to respect ALL adults and understand what it means to have authority.
Alas, today I read a blog post from another mom who was appalled when an older man at a community dinner came and scolded her child when he wouldn’t stop shrieking. The mom, who thought that the proper way to address the behaviour was to distract her son and make him laugh, was offended that someone else would step in. She chose to write an article, stating that only parents should be able to discipline their children.
The worst part for me was that the older man’s intervention seemed quite appropriate as a way to discipline a child! Yet, she perceived his firm tone of voice and finger pointing as “yelling”, and is afraid that her child will have nightmares of an old man pointing at her child. Spare me…
I understand that, when you read all of the articles about abductions, and teachers beating up their students, and strangers exposing themselves to children, it can be scary to trust others with your children. However, we need to remind ourselves that our society is mostly good, and made up of some pretty awesome folks! If we actually started listening to one another and helping each other out more, our children might benefit from it!
“It takes a village to raise a child” is a saying that needs to be brought back into style! As parents, we need to stop parenting our children in a bubble, and assume that our children’s behaviour doesn’t regard anyone else. Our children need to understand that they are part of a larger society and are responsible for their behaviours. It is these very children who, through our authority and education, will grow to become employees, team players, and even leaders. But without the active participation of this “village”, without teaching respect of others and authority, will we be setting them up for failure? Will we be raising the next generation of “you can’t tell me what to do’ers”?