Is Un-Raising Un-Parenting?
Un-raising means to drop all methods of traditional child-raising, that means praise, punishment, threats, manipulation, love-withdrawal, misusing a parents' natural authority to overpower children and forming them to be as another person would consider good or acceptable.
But why do people use these methods? They are a violation of human rights – no other group of people is as suppressed as children. Children have a right to a peaceful upbringing. Where ever there is force and coercion, respect and self-respect cannot exist. These child-raising strategies drive a wedge in the parent-child relationship, something crucial to a child’s wellbeing. Research shows stable attachments are the first and foremost criterion for a healthy psyche. What happens when children are raised by love-withdrawal is documented here, what implications praise has here, and how we may pinpoint needs underlying behavior here. Every person has a right to develop their self-regulatory abilities and through this establish a healthy sense of self-worth and self-esteem.
Do we have a right to form our children? Are they our creation? They live for no one but themselves.
As parents we have the responsibility to accompany our children into adulthood and allow them to develop in a healthy way. We choose to breastfeed, we carry them and we’re alright with allowing them to explore in a safe setting. But just as the will of the child sets in, so do the coercive strategies and the use of force over their will. We think we must steer them, tell them when they do something well, so as to emphasize these behaviors. We think we must suppress bad behavior and let the child feel our anger and disappointment, teaching them what we call ‘lessons’. We let them know we know what is best for them and that is what our culture believes: Adults not only have the power and authority to control children, no, they must use them to control children!
This attitude teaches children that it is socially acceptable that the powerful control the less powerful. And even if people suffered by parental domination in their childhoods they still regard such a thing as a crucial and normal part of childhood.
All the fear modern parents carry stems from very old conditioning by the church, the state during the industrialization period, schools and propaganda that served a purpose. Children were demonized and believed to be born bad, our jobs being to break their willfulness and bring forth obedience. Read about the detriment of obedience here.
No, un-raising isn’t un-parenting. And it isn’t Laissez Faire. We acknowledge the natural authority an adult has, but do not use it to control children. As we do not misuse it, our children enjoy making use of our mass of experience and skill. We accompany our children and acknowledge their learning and development. We accept that children go about their learning much as a scientist does – by trial and error and experiment after experiment. We accept that children have yet to mature the part of their brain that controls the impulses and don’t use adult abilities as a measure of judgment. We acknowledge that needs underlie any behavior and that children may react to stress with aggression. We realize children have limited means of communication and help them to sort their feelings. We carry the responsibility until they grow into it and take it themselves. It isn’t ours to withhold.
Un-raising forces us to question our motives, our convictions and our conditioning. Most people come from homes where they were modified to act a certain way and now, being parents themselves, and knowing there is something fundamentally wrong with controlling children, they must eradicate all the nonsense that springs up in their minds. This means we reflect and question all the time.
Human nature allows children to find their place in society (note a child’s will to help with housework at a young age, their will to imitate adults, and their play, that revolves around doing as adults do) when the outer force of child-raising methods don’t interfere with their natural instincts. And that is just what child-raising does: it brings the focus solely onto behavior, eradicating all intrinsic motivation to be a moral person, for the child now only thinks of what will be done to him or her. Children become dependent on adults, because self-trust is eradicated when they aren’t allowed to develop their decision-making skills and hone their will and impact on the world. And even if a child follows adults' orders and acts independently it is generally because they have learned to obey and escape punishment.
No person will ever develop to be psychologically truly healthy when they carry the belief “I must expect bad things to be done to me by my nearest and dearest, which are meant to cause me pain, if I am not obedient.” Child-raising has only managed to last so long, because where love is conditional, people will strive to fulfill the conditions.
But then there are those difficult children, those rebels, who dance out of line. They either carry a greater sense of self-worth, that isn’t so easy to break, or they no longer strive for that conditional love. They’d rather suffer the emotional isolation, rather than jump through hoops and relish in the conditional (fake) love.
As child-raising strategies cause aggression in children (and all people) more literature is written, more advice is given, that comes closer and closer to the old demonization of children. It seems to be a pattern: The terms are changed from ‘punishment’ to ‘natural consequences’, the parents try to be kinder to their children, all the while following the same paradigm of I’m the cake and you’re the crumb. Do as you are told. Why? Because I said so. But because children are still being manipulated, controlled and their behavior modified while their needs go unmet and unacknowledged, the cycle ends in exasperated parents shouting ‘my kid is terrorizing me!’
So stop it. Stop coercing your child. Stop telling him or her you know best – listen to what your child wants and offer advice. Take the jacket with you instead of forcing it onto your child. Take a moment to ask yourself “what’s the worst that could happen?” Model flexibility. Focus on your relationship. Connect with your child from one human being to another, rather than subject to object, respect your child and for goodness sake treat him or her as you would a dear friend. Accompany your child, show interest, give advice, ask instead of commanding and have a good time.
I invite you to take your liberty and join the revolution!