Sunday, 28 October 2012

When is outspokenness, rudeness?

Following a forum discussion about politeness and children being submissive to adults, I've been pondering the issue.

Should children be submissive to adults?

Do we stop them from speaking up, simply because we are embarrassed by their outspokenness?

I'm the first to confess I was pretty harsh on number one child. I had high expectations of behaviour, which he rapidly, and healthily sabotaged...

Child no. 2 and 3, by comparison, could have got away with murder these past few years.

Perhaps expectations of behaviour are lower the more knackered you are.

Or perhaps you (I) become more realistic about the priorities of life the longer we parent.

Perhaps we become more confident and chilled in our parenting the longer we do it, and therefore feel less obliged to 'fit' in with others' critical expectations, lowering our own at the same time.

Or perhaps years of being embarrassed by our children increases our public tolerance of their minor misdemeanors.

But back to the question...

Should children be submissive to adults?

I used to think parenting was all about control.About being in control. About controlling your child.
Years of experience and mistakes have shown me that parenting is far more about respect. By that I mean a parent's respect for the child, as well as a child's respect for the parent.

I do think children should be treated as equals to adults, wherever and whenever possible.

I think outspokenness by children should be celebrated for the honesty that it so often is (much as it can be socially embarrassing for us parents). Social niceties often cause us adults to lie to each other. In our modern times it makes a refreshing change to encounter people who 'tell it as it is'. We don't, after all, live and work in Victorian parlours.

I think, not being submissive, not doing what you are told just because an adult tells you to, are
good protective factors against bullying and abuse.

Unthinking, unquestioning obedience isn't all it's cracked up to be :)

What do others think?

Do you cringe when your child speaks out?

Or do you silently congratulate them for saying what, deep down, you are also thinking?

When does honesty and outspokenness become rudeness?


globeonmytable said...

The more fake the situation, the more risk of outspokenness happening! Am I wrong?

Serendipity said...

I have often wondered the same thing. My husband and I are in the process of trying to retrain our own thinking/ expectations of eldest daughter. I was on my own with her for many years and was heavily influenced by my parents expectations of her behaviour and of others around her. Very much of the submission and blind obedience category. It is a hard habit to get out of...especially now we lean towards a more unstructured, child led family rhythm which is totally at odds with our families way of doing things.

Lisa White said...

I believe being outspoken is fine - I hope so because I am ;) - I think it is more about guidence on how to be outspoken in a positive way, being as polite about things as possible and considering whether being outspoken will produce a positive outcome or a negative one. Learning to be diplomatic I suppose x

Katie Pybus said...

Big question.

Funnily s (who is 7) and i were talking about just this today as they are keen to start martial arts and S has read through the long list on the group website about being submissive and never questioning the teacher and she is not at all cool about that and it has made her wonder if she actually wants to go now.

I guess my feelings are similar to those about unconditional parenting in the sense that I am attracted to it as a philosophy but we live in a conditional world.

The basic issue is a lot of people still carry Victorian attitudes towards children

Lily said...

Honesty is essential - absolutely. It does need to be tempered with kindness though.

It's also necessary, in my book, to be honest about the social consequesnces of honesty - that middle-class polite thing has a lot of clout in this country and knowing when it's at play is important so that we can choose whether or not to engage that way.

But yeah, I'm prioritising honesty - real connection is impossible without it.