Controlling them, I mean. (Of course you believe love controls YOU.)
But is controlling children the best answer to loving them? Have you considered the collaborative model instead?
Our articulate, introspective friend Pam Sorooshian is a real-life unschooling inspiration to so many loving parents. As her own three daughters grew into (very smart and well-socialized!) young women, we’ve been privileged to see Pam focus more of her prodigious compassion, intelligence and educator skills on helping younger moms understand and begin living by unschooling principles.
Like Sandra Dodd, I think this is Pam’s calling, her mission — her way to help make the real world a better place not in the gauzy possible future, but right this minute.
She’s really good at it, too. At least she sure does get to me! 🙂
And because that IS her whole purpose when she writes about unschooling, I think she won’t mind me blogging a connection to something she wrote, her modeling answer to a question about limiting tv and computer screen-time.
I’ve been reading at Parenting Beyond Belief, a series of posts examining the Christian control meme as semi-pornographic advice online and off, advice on spanking with love, no — that spanking IS love. And that love is control, shown through an elaborate system of limits and consequences.
And that the child’s resistance is natural; expect it and prepare to subdue it early and often. Beat it out of the children you love, show them who’s boss every minute of the day and night. This is divine commandment and the more ritualistic and intimidating, the more memorably painful, the more thoroughly it breaks the child’s spirit, the better. Love is thereby defined as power, absolute control by any escalating means that crushes challenge to authority of any kind.
I tend to focus mainly on the horror of all that actual hitting, but along comes Pam to remind me love-as-control is a whole mindset, a parenting meme. There are ways to control and disrespect (and spoil) a beloved child, to reap what you’ve sown with your “love as control” even while congratulating yourself for not PHYSICALLY abusing your child’s precious spirit, trust and love for you.
Posted by “Pamela Sorooshian”
Sat Oct 27, 2007
Instead of putting our focus on whether or not the kids are watching
too much, we can put our focus on supporting their interests and
offering them lots and lots of possible experiences.
If their interests include tv-watching, then far from restricting them,
instead, I supported that interest. I did that by enthusiastically watching with them, playing tv-show based games online or as video games, getting tv-based hands-on games and toys and puzzles, noticing when there might be a “special” on tv they’d want to watch, noticing which shows they really liked and finding all kinds of tie-ins — use Google to look for all kinds of things related to their favorite tv shows — bring up things happening in their favorite shows when you’re having conversations about other things, dress up like the tv show characters for Halloween or just for fun anytime, get books and coloring books and activity books that are related, BUYING whole seasons of their favorite shows, getting cd’s of the music from their shows, getting books based on the shows or on which the shows are based, AND finding creative ways of extending some of the inevitable connections that every show brings up.
Maybe sometimes people really just can’t imagine how to respond to tv
in a way more consistent with showing the deep underlying trust in
our children on which unschooling is based.
For those restricting tv, maybe just try this as an experiment: Next time you have the urge to make them turn it off, instead, look for a way to support their interest and enrich their lives. A simple and obvious way is to go cuddle up with them and enjoy watching together.
Ask questions, get involved. Maybe join them with a cup of cocoa and some cookies. Or get online and look for connections to offer. Choose your time – don’t interrupt, but in between shows you can say, “Oh, look, I found these Sponge Bob coloring pages for you and I brought you some crayons, if you’re interested.” And talk about the show, “Did you know that the guy who made up SpongeBob is a real marine biologist?” Or, “I wonder why he didn’t make SpongeBob look more like a real sea sponge? I mean, he looks like a kitchen sponge.” (You can buy a piece of sea sponge at a craft store or in paint dept of Home Depot – get some and have fun sponge painting with it.)
Decide to take that moment to SHOW you honor and support their choices. I wish I could get across to parents of younger children how VERY wonderful it will be for you when your kids are teens if you have created that atmosphere of real trust. Don’t you want to end up with teens who live up to that confidence you’ve shown in them? You undermine it every time you show your lack of trust – every time you arbitrarily restrict tv you are telling them, “I don’t trust you to know what’s good for you.”
Instead, start from the beginning saying,
“I trust your choices and will support them.”
This is not trivial;
this is building the relationship you will have in a few years and during a time of life when most parents lose that closeness and honesty and confidence in their own teens.
If you restrict tv now,
will you try to restrict them from the things they want when they are
teens, too? It won’t work and everyone knows it, but parents don’t
know what else to do. They act like they can control their teenagers,
but that is so obviously not true, teens whose parents are restrictive will often put themselves in much more risky situations than otherwise. Start trusting them now if that is the relationship you hope to have when they are teens. You can’t just manufacture it later, it is built on years of showing trust and confidence and support of their interests.
Pam says she was introduced to this collaborative love meme by Sandra Dodd. Pam in turn made it explicit for me, when I met her and worked with her at NHEN. Now I’m spreading it here for Thinking Parents. Who can *you* help with it, to teach themselves to love and trust a child without limit?