Saturday, September 08, 2007

Definitely a Homily

Evidently I'm not done, yet.
Julie inspired this one. In a comment she left, she said "RU works for kids, it may not work for the adults, but it works for kids, and that's all I'm interested in."
I loved this comment.

There are many thoughts that I've wanted to express that can be related to this idea.
One of them is the whole "RUers are not good parents" thought.
Because we let them make their own decisions about television, bedtime, food, and their abilities.
Most of those that parent this way - call it whatever you like, I choose to call it R.U. (ru) because it's quick and to me encompasses the ideas of consensual living, respectful parenting, child-led learning, and living in a household and family unit where all voices are heard and feel free to express their desires and opinions. That's what R.U. means to me. -Back to what I was saying..
Most of those/us that parent this way see it not as not parenting, but sort of hyper-parenting. Parenting on overdrive. Only it's not the children in which we feel the need control, but own wayward tongues and emotions, and shedding the skins that do not fit from our own childhoods and experiences.
As I mentioned yesterday, I get quite angry when I hear of folks that insist their children buy their own school clothes and supplies (and similar things). My thoughts on it are - if you are a Mama home with her babies, and your dh is the breadwinner, does he make you go out and sell newspapers if you want a new skirt? To the argument of "well, that's different, I work at home - clean, cook, etc" I would say, yes, but you choose to do those things. You choose to live in a tidy kitchen. You choose to stay at home with your children. We all know it's not a job from which we receive a salary. Along those same lines, you wouldn't think to pay your child for bringing you a glass of water, or pay your spouse for getting you a fresh napkin at dinner. It's done out of love, and out of what speaks to your heart, and it's how you choose to live your life. Same as dh has the option of saying "I ain't workin' no more" and quitting his job, leaving his family, and packing up his hanky and hanging it on the back of a long stick.
Love is the reason he goes to work each day. Love is the reason we try to make a happy home. Love is the reason you should also provide for your children. (I did warn you by the title that this would be a sermon.)

Another thought I've had but have yet to express is another control issue.
People think (I honestly don't know why they think this way - all I can figure is that it has something to do with the Adam and Eve story, and that children are born in sin) that if you give your child freedom that it's certainly the road to ruin, and they'll never be responsible, or kind, or loving, or have self discipline. That they're born wicked, and out to manipulate their saintly parents, and just want their way. Well, we would ALL like our way. I damned sure would, as is quite obvious by this post.
Why not give it to them as best you can? Why not say "I can see this is very important to you, and it's something you love, so let's talk about how we can make this happen for you...."
Why on earth would one want to teach children that life is not about joy, and that he was put on this earth to suffer through his life? -"Well, guess what, the world doesn't work that way!" or my very favorite "Life is not fair!" or "You can't get your way all the time!" Why not? Why not make life as grand as possible for children? Do people honestly believe that the best way to ensure your child has a happy adulthood is to show them that life is not so grand when they're a child? (ie prepare them for disappointment) How dismal.
I remember reading on a mommy list last year a mother wrote in to vent because she was all burnt about her children sneaking off to the park across the street to get one of the free lunches. She shouted at them that "Lunch is a privilege around here, and you do as I say!" I was just sick.
I dropped out shortly thereafter. No thanks. Makes me sick thinking about it still.

I find it terribly amusing that people think controlling a child is the way to have them learn self control.
Honestly. (she rolls her eyes) How does that even make sense?
The only people I can see this possibly working on are people that are afraid to live their lives, and who therefore cannot, that I can see, be capable of finding their own happiness. Most of us, surely, only rebel when we're given the space - usually at eighteen- to do so. We spend our money wildly. We party our way through college. Ever wonder why college kids are so crazy? Hmmm. Not just college - we all are at that point of our lives. Beginning at around sixteen, you know everything. You start to really come into yourself - regardless of what your parents think, and either they're your biggest supporter of who you are - really are - or else you run (in one way or another.)
How to encourage those young people who are just coming into I Know Everything to make good choices? Experience, like the rest of us. Beginning at birth. Making decisions for one's life throughout one's life is the best way to gain experience, confidence, and to be adept. (when to eat, what to eat, how to eat, when to play, what to play, how to play, when to work, how to work, what to work)

We can all surely see how the benefits of prison have made those poor souls into wonderful citizens of our society. That being in a controlled environment has allowed them to blossom and shine, that it surely has taught them right from wrong, and that upon release they are quite capable of expressing themselves beautifully, and they have surely learned very productive ways to pursue their happiness.
Which is why we all want them to live next door to us.
Yes, things were bad for them when they went in. But being externally controlled didn't teach much in the way of self-control, did it?

It is not my opinion that parents need to give their child absolutely everything. I don't see that it would be bad for them, necessarily, but I'm not advocating that. Neither is it my opinion that the child's wants/wishes come before the rest of the family's. What I'm saying is that I believe the benefits of living in a home where you are treated as an equal - and not someone to be controlled - but taken seriously, respected, and cherished can only be good for you.
When you are open with children - "Daddy chooses to go to work so that we can live in this nice house, and have yummy foods in our pantry, and so that we have a few dollars to go really fun places" and "here's what our budget looks like this week, son", and "What are your ideas on how you'd like to spend our vacation?" and "These are my concerns about riding your bike where I can't see you.... what can we do to help us to both get what we need?" they will certainly be exposed to the nuances of life, learn how things work, and they'll learn how to make good choices.
All without being controlled.
All without being told what to think, or how to behave.
People that feel controlled by others want to control others (Lah, do I ever know this one.)
People that are miserable want others to share in their misery.
People that think life is not fair want to make sure that others understand and believe that Life Is Not Fair.
Conversely, people that are respected treat others with respect.
People that are shown kindness act with kindness.
People that are happy want others to be happy, too.

It is damned hard for some of us (me, for instance) to practice these ideals.
It's terribly inconvenient to have to think instead of saying "because I said so".
To constantly be looking for solutions to making sure everyone feels important and heard.

But I'd rather do the work on myself, as this road and task is most certainly a Truth of mine, than leave it for yet another generation to fix.
I can only imagine what wondrous heights to which my children shall fly if they live their lives knowing and truly believing that they themselves are not limited.


KMDuff said...

what an essay. i've been thinking about it all evening. its helped me to be less controlling about our train cake we've been making and other things. :) hugs for whatever is going on to rile you up. but thanks for sharing!

Lerend Zonder School said...

I probably should have said "doesn't work for some parents", and I think some will never get it. Those are the people that I got riled up about.

Anyway, I agree with your post entirely, and just like you am striving for that ideal, and some days I achieve it gloriously and others I fall flat on my face:) I guess the difference is, I know where I want to be, and mainstream just doesn't cut it for me, or my children.

I guess recently I've just witnessed too many unjustices against children, in the way too controlled sense. These are children that we associate with often, and I ache for the "punch" so to speak to their gut, as I see it in their faces when their parents speak so unkindly to them over such frivolous sh*t and I cannot respect that type of parenting for how ever how long I shall live on this planet.

A revolution MUST take take place for people to change or to "see the light", and I hope that unschooling/respectful parenting, RU, ect.. lights up like wildfire in this country, for whatever better way is there?

Thanks once again for your words that seem to speak to my soul again & again!


Aubrey said...

----Only it's not the children in which we feel the need control, but own wayward tongues and emotions, and shedding the skins that do not fit from our own childhoods and experiences.----

isn't this the ultimate inner struggle being a RU parent?
it's learning that the only person we can ever change is ourselves.
why is it so damned hard?

you've given us hooligans a lot to think about this evening (i'm including chris too.)

once again, thanks for your scrumptious writing.

Aubrey said...

oh, hope you don't mind, i'm going to link post to my blog.

Stephanie said...

I can't believe that y'all would read another long rant so soon after the last one!
sheepish smile - thanks for the nice words, all of you.
There is a point to the story... I'll probably write on that tomorrow.

Tiffani said...

Thanks for writing this, Steph. I love so much about it, I can't even highlight a few of my favorite lines. I'm grateful you took the time and energy to write it down here. :)

Stephanie said...

Tiffani -
You are certainly most welcome.
Thanks for reading it! :)

Laura said...

Preach on, sistah! Love all this stuff, and you remind me to take a deep breath (and another) as I ask for the 3rd time today if my son has finished his biology homework - having a little difficulty finding my footing in this new school world. I agree with Julie that a revolution must take place, because I'm pretty saddened by the increasing control I see... there's no safe space for these kids anymore.