Originally Posted by coffeegirl
Personally I think it's crucial to judge the behaviour of our children; it's part of our jobs as parents. Children aren't born with 100% knowledge of how to behave or relate to others or how to control their emotions, you know?
Part of the acting out that your daughter is doing is because she's testing her (and your) boundaries. All children do this, and all children, to some extent, crave limits and structure. They can't put these limits on themselves because they don't know how. That's why we have to do it for them when they're so young. I believe, and I know from personal experience, that this can make them feel secure. And in time they learn to control and regulate their emotions and behaviors for themselves, learning from us. (I reason this out by understanding that the goal of parental discipline is to teach a child self discipline.)
To be honest, some of the tenants of UP seem to me like they could cause a lot of insecurity and anxiety in a child who might simply be looking for clear, firm guidance from their parents.
I think I do understand where you are coming from and spent a lot of my life acting accordingly, but I've changed my perspective. With my own children and the shedding of my upbringing, I've seen that they are actually wired toward self-regulation, and that when I impose on them how they ought to feel and act, though in the moment it may 'work' in that both they and I feel better that the potential outburst is quelled, in the long run, they don't develop self-regulation strategies at all. What they do develop are mummie-pleasing, approval-oriented behaviours that are not authentic to them. They are so sensitive to my responses and reactions that I don't have to deliberately instill fear into them or impose limitations; their sensitivities to me are deep and they know when I am not happy with their choices.
This is nearly impossible to prevent, and I don't think it is necessary or beneficial to try to do so (because that amount, whatever it is, I think is the natural desire for and reciprocation of attachment), but I do think that whatever natural inclination they have for pleasing me is sufficient, and that it is not beneficial to pile on a bunch of extra in the form of my overtly expressed displeasure derived of my preferences.
I think you are right that children crave and need structure. I give that in abundance to them, but the structure I give is perhaps not the same structure you are referring to here. I don't make a bunch of rules and enforcements for them to follow. I do set my own personal boundaries and I am consistent with those because they are an authentic expression of my true boundaries, not synthetic society-pleasing ones, so I don't have to keep track of them; they are as much as part of me as my personality. I do not allow the degradation of human dignity in my home and will intervene if that is happening. This is admittedly a sort of imposition, but I think it reflects what everyone
needs and if someone is not yet able to make that clear, then I am willing to do so on his/her behalf. When it is me, I make myself clear; when t is the baby, for instance, I make it clear on his behalf.
The structure we have in our home is relational, personal, and not at all mechanical or superimposed over our relationships and personal growth. It is hard to explain this without writing a book or experiencing it. Relating to your concern about children needing security and parental judgment to deal with their emotions and self-regulation, when our children experience the initial anxiety of not really being sure how to respond, I am there with them, being a sure support and sometimes even talking through options with them. They don't receive the instant no-growth instruction/imperative that 'structure' often implies, but they are certainly not set adrift or insecure. When they settle on something, the victory is theirs, and the life-experience is immediate and ingrained. If they were not happy with how it turned out, they gained the experience they needed to choose something else next time, and I'm there then too.
In either situation, they were supported and also personally responsible and responsive; this is the only real way to truly self-regulate; so-called self-discipline that comes from internalising the voice and commands of mum and dad is not self-discipline or self-regulation, but programmed or patterned response, and it is effective with dogs and and other loyal pets, and even appears to 'work' with humans, but I do not view it as healthy for human beings. It is a strange mix of Orwellian and Huxlian anti-human ideologies.
I don't think a human being is ever too young to begin the process of its own maturation, and the circumstances, if authentic, that my children experience from birth onward, will mirror or follow the natural curve of their maturation. What I mean is that they will have no dilemmas about tax reporting at age 2, nor will they be stuck in a room with someone who is trying to persuade them to steal shoes from the store. These things may come up in their lives, but they won't until they are actually equipped to handle them. I am in a position to ensure this of course, though, because my family free-learns and that means that we are together most of the time, if not all. In fact it's rare that we are not- and of course that does not mean we are isolated; we do entertain and go places too. Anyway, living authentically really is a whole-life thing, and much of the difficulties that we would otherwise have in regard to raising our children simply do not exist for us because of the choices we've made, and the ones we do have may be very different from those of others.
This maturation is very fluid, and I think that 'structure' as it denotes a mechanical undergirding or framework, is best suited to situations where fluidity is a liability, like in an airport, for instance. Schools and other institutions use it because they cannot handle true fluid human behaviour and experience, being that they are not human or organic in any way. In our family, however, there is ample room and support for just this, and a structure would indeed have to be a synthetic and mechanical imposition; it does not flow freely from our human experience and adds nothing- but even worse, takes away!
With regard to judgment
, I think that very little of what a child experiences and chooses in normal circumstances truly exists within the realm of morality, which means that it is rare that any judgment is necessary or called for.
Much of what is considered 'wrong' by parents is really trangression of parental preferences
, and many children are punished for this.
It is not a moral issue that my child not stand on the table. I don't like it, it is not my preference, and I am happy to share my preference with my children about that- but it is not a moral issue and requires not judgment. Since this is my example, I'll follow it through. We have a large kitchen table- 4'x6'- and two of our children like to sit on it while they are all drawing because it means they can all be close and see what one another is doing. This is important to them and makes a lot of sense; they feel and are separated by sitting ont he benches because of their relative physical sizes. So, the compromise that we made was that the two younger ones may sit on the table when they are drawing, but they may not sit there if there is any food or drink on the table at all.
Because no moral issue was ever presented such as would be common -"but it is a moral issue that my dc don't do as I say when I'm the parent!"- we negotiated a way for all of us to meet our needs and even our preferences! If I had made a rule and enforcement regulations, then I would have changed this into something it really isn't and never need be. I didn't make a rule for them to transgress out of their own perceived need.
If I were to consider something less preference-specific like hitting, for instance, I am still left with it not being truly a moral issue in the experience of a child. As an adult, it has definitely become a moral and ethical issue, but for a child- a young one especially- hitting is a physical manifestation of emotion and not at all in the same category as true violence, which is the moral and ethical category that hitting belongs to for me, being mature and capable of distinguishing between my emotions and my actions. If my conscience were malformed or unformed through some neurological or other disorder, then I'd be in the same situation as the child.
So saying, I don't ignore hitting, but I don't treat it as a moral issue requiring judgment either. When my children hit one another, I intervene first by telling them to stop hitting, then by helping them sort out the emotions and thoughts that they were expressing through hitting that they can now address through talking. I don't ask them politely (as in with a please and thank you) or request that they stop, because I am not really open to a 'no' answer, so I don't pretend that I am. I tell them to stop directly. "Stop hitting immediately."
In this situation, I am not judging, but I am
defending the well-being of the person being hit and attempting to assist the hitter in expressing his actual need instead of just hitting, which isn't addressing a real need; nobody needs to hit anyone.
In this situation, I am guiding them, but not judging them. I am judging their behaviour -hitting- as not as beneficial as talking (and hitting crosses over into the well-being of another person who needs security, and I am very willing to enact that for him); though I would call that discernment and not necessarily judgment, although the word use isn't as important to me as the meaning I intend. Also, as I wrote above, I am expressing the need for and eventual self-expressable personal boundaries of the one being hit. Eventually, I won't do that because they will all have matured to a point where they can express their own healthy boundaries.
I hope you see that there is no lack of discipline in my perspective, no permissiveness or laziness; rather I am diligently engaged with my family all day, while today I am nursing a rotten sinus infection and dp has taken over the chores. Wow, if I'd been doing the chores I usually do, I'd not have written all this... I do a lot of chores!!!
I've still been in constant engagement with my children though. Huh.