FREEDOM FOR PARENTS
If you are struggling and sometimes fighting with your children it is only because, like most Americans and many parents world-wide, you have been taught to THINK about children and being a parent in certain culturally ingrained ways. It is deep in your bones to see your duty and responsibility in terms of CONTROLLING YOUR CHILD.
Human beings are all born with a powerful instinct to resist external control. When we try to control a child, we are working against human-nature. Whether we exert control punitively with physical punishment, removal of privileges, yelling or other harsh methods or we take the kinder gentler approach with sticker charts, time-outs, rewards or praise all are methods of control and all are counterproductive.
CONTROL is the problem.
A new little person entering our complex society must have certain conditions in order to thrive and to be fun and pleasant to live with.
Old attitudes prevent us from understanding our children as our drive for control gets in the way of seeing babies and children as fully human. Obsession with control blinds us and provokes defensive oppositional behaviors in our children.
At a time when we could effectively solve a problem our child has created for us by calling on our own resources of empathy, we fail this
inexperienced little person by resorting to punishments or bribes. We miss the opportunity to model the quality of empathy as a learning experience for a child and for deepening our own understanding of the unique human being here before us.
When we abandon counterproductive authoritarian control tactics and focus on understanding our children's needs while being firmly on their side, living with them becomes easy and pleasant.
We can learn how to always remain in charge of the situation while giving up attempts to control another human being.
Traditional teachings have failed to provide us with the necessary understanding and information to be able to meet an infant's or a child's needs, leaving us lost and helpless with this new and different experience while only offering new and different methods of control.
There are actually businesses built around the sale of wooden paddles for beating children into submission and some selling cutesy time-out accessories. We can see this as evidence of a defective society woefully ignorant of the basic needs of children and badly lacking in the understanding of child-development and constructive interpersonal relationships.
When, as new parents, we suddenly have total physical dominance over another human being we are faced with a unique challenge. We now have a helpless baby or child right here in our home on whom we can vent our angers and frustrations. This can become a dangerous situation. When the little person is the source of our frustration the dangerous situation may turn deadly.
For the first time in our lives, we have absolute power over another human being and we will do well to be mindful of one of the most enduring quotes of all time:
POWER TENDS TO CORRUPT AND ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY.**
In the United States, parents are one of the leading causes of death for children under age four when frustration with not knowing what to do and failed attempts to control a child explode into violence.
Hundreds of children die each year because a caretaker becomes overwhelmed by listening to a baby's crying or with trying to make a child do or not do something the adult sees as important.
What is commonly seen as "abuse" is an extension of cultural parenting practices carried to an extreme. Slapping becomes spanking. Spanking escalates to beating. As frustration mounts, beating becomes more intense. The child still refuses to use the potty or stay away from the ashtray. Daddy tries a cigarette burn to the hand or a shove across the room. This time a little head collides with the corner of a table or the raised bricks of a hearth and a toddler is dead.
ALL BECAUSE A DEEPLY INGRAINED BELIEF WAS TELLING A FRANTIC PARENT TO DO HIS DUTY AND GET CONTROL OF THIS CHILD.
As you continue reading you will see how you can become your own relationship expert knowing how to create a level of serenity in which adults and children interact in such a way for no one to ever reach the boiling point of overwhelming exasperation.
When you give up trying to control your child, you are released from an impossible task and a huge source of frustration.
In place of CONTROL you will be able to think in terms of PROBLEM SOLVING AND ATTACHMENT. Now you will have something to work with and can move forward without the hopeless goal of gaining domination.
Parents all over the world have embraced the concepts of Parent Effectiveness Training, given up the losing battle for control and escaped to FREEDOM from the trap of punishments and rewards.
You, too, can be liberated to enjoy a satisfying, joyful, hassle-free life with your children and the wonderful freedom this brings.
* Yes, adults can gain PHYSICAL control of a child through manipulation, fear, violence and locks on doors. Homeless shelters, juvenile detention centers and adult prisons are populated by grown children who were not able to survive or rise above and overcome such early treatment.
** 1887 Lord Acton, British intellectual who devoted his life to the study of freedom.