The debate this morning on Sunday Morning Live was facinating. Unfortunately I tried to get the link on here for anyone who missed it but alas for some reason it cannot be viewed.
Edwina Currie, always an interesting character, says Yes, absolutely., children should be trained like we train our dogs. She believes that children need to know who the boss is and that they should do as they are told, without question in their early life. This, according to Edwina helps them to feel secure and safe and to know that they do as she says.
It opened up a facinating debate and for me personally, I know that boundaries made me feel safer when I got them kindly put in place, not slapped on me for no apparent reason. My son is grateful that I stood by what I said and he knew, without me saying so, that I would be consistant in what I said and did. But we discussed it and he knew why, I did not just bark orders at him.
I also know that that almost sometimes victorian approach has led to my own personal lack of self esteem, because, I felt, when growing up, that sometimes my views did not matter and I felt confused and not sure what I did and did not do.
I personally feel that children need to explore within boundaries, be naughty, test themselves and push you as a parent a bit more and more to grow. To know that, when I was growing up my ideas mattered, my opinion was heard and then things were explained to me as to why not, would have helped my cognition development far better than do as I say and that is that.
We had a father who listened sometimes, a nanny who did, a step-mother who did not listen at all and when we saw our mother, a mother who thought that her way was the high way and there was not space for discussion. I was the most respectful to our father and nanny who eventhough we were disciplined, we were also able to discuss things with and listened to, on a good day. When it happened I felt loved, heard and that I mattered. I felt that unconditional love that eventhough I was being naughtly I was ok and that they cared. Unfortunately it was not consistant, but I did get a bit of it.
If a child says no, there may be a very good reason for it, they are not you. They have different likes and dislikes, they have their own set of feelings that if we are fortunate enough to listen to, we can learn a lot. I have always said my son is my teacher and he is. He tells me when he thinks I am out of order and I am able to listen and take it on board, for this I am really grateful. He also tells me when I do good things as well and what he agrees with and disagrees with. I have been told by many people that he is one of the most rounded people they have ever met, we talked, he explored and he learnt of himself within the boundaries.
One of the other panallists was Elizabeth, a Religious Broadcaster and ex-nun. She made a beautiful comment that children are our gifts, we do not own them, they are a precious gift. That as parents our role is to be a midwife, to bring the beauty of the child within out………….I don’t think there is space for that if you are treating and training children like dogs. Boundaries, yes, they keep us safe, and tough sometimes, yes, but love is the most important thing, with boundaries and listening and nerturing.
I know many many people, including myself, who were raised in the way Edwina is suggesting and it did not work, their self esteem is on the floor because they never felt their voice mattered and they never felt heard either by one or both parents, it is not conducive to intimacy, in my humble opinion.