Why do we see children’s differences as deficiencies?
As a social justice education, I have often heard that the world would be a better place if we focused on how we are alike rather than focusing on our differences. If we all just saw each other as human beings, we could eliminate prejudice and discrimination.
However, I believe that we need to acknowledge and understand our differences, whether those differences are related to our group identities (such as race, gender, age, sexual orientation) or our individual uniqueness.
And yes, we need to understand the commonalities that we share as well.
What we often do not acknowledge is that differences become divisive and harmful in our society when one group uses its power to define the differences of another group as evidence of their deficiencies.
Though we may not be willing to admit it, within our paradigm of control and domination, we see the differences in children as evidence of their deficiencies.
We define children as irrational and impulsive.
We say they are prone to temper tantrums.
When they make decisions that we disagree with, we believe that those decisions are flawed because they lack critical knowledge and information that only adults (the group in power) can possess.
We view children’s differences as liabilities. We see them as inferior to adults.
Within this frame of reference, our responsibility as parents is to use our power to control them until they have proven to us that they are capable of controlling their own lives.
We can make a different choice in our view of children.
When we see children as different from us AND don’t place value judgments on those differences, we can approach our relationship from a place of respect for their experiences and world-views.
We can choose to try and understand the world from their perspective.
Rather than judge them based on an adult world-view, we can try to see a different perspective that might well teach us and inform our view of the world as well.
If we respect children’s ideas, feelings, emotions, and experiences as real and valid, they are also more likely to treat others with the same respect.
When I interact with the children in my life, my desire is that they feel as though they matter, not that they are less than me.
I want them to know that although we may see the world differently, there is room for both of our perspectives.
And because I have greater societal power, I am responsible for ensuring that they do feel heard. I need to take the extra step to truly hear and understand their point of view.
Coming from this place of respect, we can expand both of our perspectives, as adults and children, to gain a deeper understanding of our lives and experiences.
Have you read the book yet?
“I am so pleased I came across this book! The content is, to say the least, mind-blowing.” Aimee Ferraro
“I like how Teresa has used her life long involvement with human rights activism and applied it to children in a world which has never seemed to treat children as exactly human in the respect that we do not SEE our children nor do we HEAR them and all we want is control of them. This book is timely and ground breaking.” C. Alvarez
“I really think this is a MUST read for every parent.” Jennifer Thomas
Get the book here.