I have registered into a year-long training course, called “Power and Contribution” as a pathway to fulfill on a new conversation, which I am calling “Familying”.
What I am up to impacting in the world is the relationship between a parent and a child. What if parenting is no longer about dealing with behaviors? Instead of relating to each other as “roles” (“parents/caregivers” to “children”),” the relationship between a parent and a child was one human being respecting the view of another human being?
I am no expert in “child-rearing”, but the notion that children are “raised” seems disturbing, something akin to growing crops, herding cattle or domesticating animals. More often than not, children are related to as property (that’s why we call a child who without parents is an “orphan”). This views children like chattel, expected them to kowtow to the wishes and the rules of adults.
The word, “parenting” also seems to exclude the most important partner of a family—the child. What if a new word, “Familying” is being used to express the partnership between parents/caregivers and children? Not as friends, but as equal human beings. What if the purpose of “Family” is exploring and discovering the view of ALL individuals, and creating what works for all?
The following statement expresses the intention of what Familying is possible. It is taken from “Relationship and Families by Design” e-newsletter (August, 2009)
The relationship between parents and children pretty much follow the same patterns, with one notable difference: parents seldom think of their children as partners.
The default relationship that parents have with their children is embodied in the phrase “We are raising our children to…” The “our” in the phrase indicates that parents (unconsciously) think and behave as though they own their children. The “raising” part indicates that parents (unconsciously) assume that their job is to manage and control their children’s growth and development so as to ensure that they turn out the way they are “supposed to”.
In addition to not asking the questions above, what parents do not normally do when relationship with their children is missing is to wonder, “Who are our children, really? What are they capable of? What are they discovering about life and living? What are their dreams and fears (including what are they afraid to tell us)?” And then ask them.
“When we adults think of children there is a simple truth which we ignore: childhood is not preparation for life. Childhood is life…Childhood isn’t a time when he is molded into a human who will then live life; he is a human who is living life. No child will miss the zest and joy of living unless these are denied him by adults who have convinced themselves that childhood is a period of preparation.
How much heartache we would save ourselves if we would recognize the child as a partner with adults in the process of living, rather than always viewing him as an apprentice. How much we would teach each other-adults with the experience and children with the freshness. How full both our lives could be.
A little child may not lead us, but at least we ought to discuss the trip with him, for, after all, life is his and her journey, too.” John A. Taylor, Notes on an Unhurried Journey