I’m setting aside my usual preference to not discuss details of my parenting ethos over here because, Murphy’s Law, right? Just when you think you have things waxed, it all goes for a ball of poop.
Parenting: Tap Analogy
What I’ve been thinking about lately, is the need to adjust how you parent each year, as the kids get older. I came up with this analogy of a tap and I thought I’d share it with you. I stand corrected though so, let me know what you think.
When I grew up, children were seen and not heard. This meant that I was never allowed in adult company while I was considered “a child” by the grown ups. Given that I was a laat lammetjie (late lamb), is that I never had an opportunity to learn how to converse with a grown up.
Fast forward a few years and I found myself ill equipped to address my concerns with teachers in high school. Move ahead a few more years and I’m clueless as to how to present myself in a job interview. To this day, I am still uncomfortable in the company of people who appear senior to me.
This is not what I want for my children. Why can kids not be exposed to micro bites of adult interaction in a fairly controlled environment? Why can’t they be exposed to adults engaging them in conversation and learning to find their own feet as they respond to questions. If they never have their childish beliefs challenged, will they ever learn about the real world and what it’s like to be an adult?
Which brings me to my tap analogy. What if you start with the tap tightly shut and each year, you open it just the tiniest amount? If you take it from a slow drip to a steady stream over the first 15 years, you can increase the flow a bit more as they approach their adult years. This would give them license to ask grown ups about their jobs, and how they chose what to study after school. Among other things, obviously.
You cannot treat a kid like a child until they turn 18 and then, overnight expect them to know everything there is to know, just because they hit the “correct age”. Kids should respect people who are older than them, not fear them. They should be able to hold their own in conversation and slowly come to terms with the reality of real life.
Maybe, by exposing them to what it’s like to be a grown up, you know the bills, the choices we have to make and the things we wish we knew when we were their age, it will help them to get to grips with what’s facing them when they need to be responsible for themselves. Especially when most kids so desperately long for the perceived freedom they’ll have when they are finally grown up.
I know that if I was exposed to some of the realities awaiting me, I wouldn’t have been in such a hurry to grow up and I would have enjoyed my time as a child, for as long as possible.
Disclaimer: I know that parents don’t always have control of what their kids learn and when. Some kids are tossed into adulthood, long before they are meant to. I don’t right this post to judge others. I simply see too many kids who are treated as non entities. Patronized and left to their childish beliefs because grown ups are too busy to challenge them.
A kid who is never taught how to budget their pocket money, is the same person who will find themselves in debt, later in life. A kid who is never taught how to wait their turn or save up for what they really want, will go through life expecting everything to be handed to them on a silver platter.
What the world needs is children who are treated like mini grown ups. Responsible for their actions and held accountable for the consequences.