Saturday, September 13, 2014

Growing Up Healthy and Unhindered

Today's society needs to change it's ideas about what is normal, healthy behavior for children and adults.  Look at the society around you.  The prisons are full, the offices of mental health professionals are full, many children have been removed from their homes and placed in foster care or the children are in therapy because parents don't know how to deal with their behavior, and children are failing in school and their social and interpersonal relationships are unstable.  Our nation needs a new paradigm for dealing with human behavior, and the changes need to start when children are infants so that they have a chance to grow up healthy and unhindered.

Children have different thought patterns than adults.  It takes many, many years of healthy, sensitive, supported care for children to mature to the point of thinking the way adults do.  So right from the start, do not try to measure whether your children's behavior is appropriate by adult standards.  Not only do children's thought patterns and therefore behavior standards follow a different set of rules than adults, but the typical adult thought patterns that exist in this country are not healthy to begin with.  So not only is there a developmental gap between child and adult thoughts and behavior, but the standards most adults apply to their own behavior in many cases needs to be changed.

Adults in this country take for granted some basic assumptions about children.  They believe babies and young children are unable to determine what their needs are and what is best for them, so we adults are supposed to decide for them.  They believe if we do not actively teach children to be good and do right that they will not choose to do it on their own.  They believe that without strict discipline, which involves some kind of punishment or reward, that children will not learn to behave appropriately.  This is the most fundamental mistake ever made in forming ideas about children and human beings in general.

Our world is based on the idea of power and authority.  Someone gives an order, and everyone else obeys.  Most societies are based on some kind of power struggle between those in control and those who are trying to be controlled.   Do you like being controlled?  Do you like being ordered around?  Do you like being made to feel like you can't think for yourself and that someone else needs to decide what's best for you?  Some countries are freer than others, but almost all societies take it upon themselves to try and control their members.

Not only is it not fair for one person to think it's all right to control someone else, it does not make for healthy mental, emotional and behavioral development. It sets up a situation in which all behavior is geared toward avoiding control.

The key is to guide and influence without exerting control.  To allow individuals the ultimate freedom to control their own thoughts, feelings, actions and destiny, without coersion, but to provide healthy natural models for them to observe, and to provide a safe place where any thoughts, feelings, words and actions that occur are met with loving, non-judgmental attitudes.  Children are obviously going to make mistakes as they grow, let's not make them feel as if they've committed a crime by simply going through the normal developmental process of learning.

So, how do we guide our children without controlling them, and allow their inborn mechanisms to encourage healthy, unhindered development?  If you don't want to dishonor and humiliate your children with punishment and manipulation, we can teach you other ways to get their cooperation. That is what this section of our website is devoted to.  

However, I will summarize with our assertion and experience that children raised in a punitive environment have more problems later in life. We as parents have to help our children develop mentally, emotionally and spiritually, when WE OURSELVES have not finished accomplishing those tasks.  We must realize that we don't raise our kids, we grow up together.  It's not a matter of "I'm the parent and I know more than you and I have to teach you" it's a matter of "Let's discover together how to navigate this life."  We shouldn't punish our children any more than we should punish ourselves.  Guilt, blame and shame serve no purpose.   

The way we respond to our children is so crucial to how they will develop and who they will become.  It's not good enough for us to bring our kids up the way we were brought up.  Our children were born with everything they need to succeed.  Their physiological and psychological systems were created with inborn mechanisms to insure healthy, normal development.  But we adults, we get in the way.  We try to impose upon them some kind of methods that make sense to us, but as I stated in the beginning, we cannot apply adult ways of thinking to children and measure their behavior by what we used to think was right.  We were wrong, it's time we admitted it.

See this study entitled 

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