Taking Time to Give Your Children A Voice

A "Child Should Be Seen, Not Heard" Mentality

My parents were raised in the Southern United States, and given specific tools that they perceived were viable parenting skills. There is not such time nor room for playing the "Blame Game," as they raised myself and my siblings, using the best tools they had available to them. I think personally, that is the best attitude I can take to reasonably adapt, seeing as what actions and inactions they took, were limited to what they were taught, and move forward in life.

While I was being raised, and in the times of my up-bringing, children were expected to be obedient, non-questioning, non-assertive and all compliant with the demands and assertions of their parents. Anything beyond that, we were considered to be un-ruled and/or being disrespectful; and punished according to the norm of capital punishment.

Speaking up, was a trip across an "Egg-shell" floor, where we might end up being yelled at, to "shut up," slapped across the face or buttocks, or sent to our rooms; the latter being the least used, unless it was to contain us for a spanking by my father.

Other children In the neighborhood, where I grew up, either had the similar types of punishments, which often included the washing out of the mouth with soap; which at times included soaps that had Lye, as an active ingredient. It was not unfamiliar for these kids, to be absent from school the next day, due to being ill due to stomach problems, I must note.

Since entering into therapy, I found that these attitudes and actions, on which were directed upon myself, my siblings and the neighborhood children; set us all up for certain phobias later on in life, and set us up for the mentality that we had no voice, no say and no means to communicate our discontent or discomfort with out feelings of guilt or disrespect.

Most kids, I grew up with, pretty much got over it and moved past these habits (mainly due to social pressures concerning abusive intolerances), and led a mostly productive life in society. However, looking at how they have raised their children reflects the attitudes of our parents methods of dealing with our kids.

Not Pointing Fingers, But Making Changes

We all grew up, and at times we pointed fingers at our parents for our shortcomings. Yes, this includes our lack of confidence, lack of discipline, lack of trust, lack of what ever your life might have been lacking in. And Yes, it might be true that they did not do you any favors, or did they?

Breaking of cycles and making changes, can be a productive and positive practice to strive for, while we grow up and expand our world. But often, more than not, we get caught up with life's challenges, and don't take the time to reflect on our days, to assess what we might have done to improve our interactions; especially with our children, but also with all of our relationships in general as well.

Again, Pointing Fingers is not the subject here; instead it's more important to realize what was good and what was bad, and to make changes which are more positive, for our children, grand-children and other children we come in contact with.

Sometimes I Feel Like Just Running Away!
Sometimes I Feel Like Just Running Away!

Bringing Children Closer, Not Pushing Them Away

During my up-rearing, I was blessed with being an emotional, and was very in contact with my feelings, emotions, my body and the like.. I guess to some extent, I was blessed (I suppose).

As some of you probably know from my other hubs, I suffer from Complex PTSD, rooted in events of my military experiences. I will also confess that I all too often curse that part of myself; but I fail to realize that it has it's blessings as well; in that it makes me more aware of my surroundings, and more vigilant in finding power in my voice. It also makes me realize how important it is for children, to have that voice as well; and to be able to find that voice makes a difference in life.

Early on in my roles of fostering the rearing of the children in my life, I often made comment that: " If a Child has something to say, and can say it respectfully, it's important to him/her. If she is important to me, then the fact that what he/she has to say should be no less important."

Too often, while raising up young kids, like myself fighting with my PTSD, they become frustrated and not sure of their emotions or how those emotions will play into their conveyances of their thoughts. Sometimes, those thoughts become "jumbled" and confusing to the child; thus causing them to just "blurt" out what ever is on their minds unfiltered.

Taking time to direct them to think about what they wish to share, allows them the "grace" to compose themselves appropriately, to convey their emotions, feelings in an appropriate manner that will most likely be conveyed in a respectful tone and manner. The key is for the adult to take the time out, for themselves to give the child that "Grace."

I found that more often than not, the children in my life were found to become more trusting and more resilient in adverse situations, where most people are afraid to speak, talk, respond or even find themselves in public speaking scenarios. It builds confidence, and trust in their own selves and makes them more comfortable letting others know when they are uncomfortable and that things are unacceptable, or are being perceived to be threatening to them.

By failing to allow your children this latitude and ability to establish their own voice, which is not only recognized but also respected, sets them up to potentially become a victim of circumstances and possibly a victim; whom later will suffer a lifetime of dealing with even a mental disorder like PTSD, later in life.

Saying Yes, and Having the Power of Saying No.

We all have what our "God" gave us called "Free-will," allows us all to make mistakes and bad choices. I learned by one of my older kids, about ten years ago, that making choices and being in control of our children's lives can not be productive. Letting go is hard to do, is not just a Cliché, it's a fact. So, teaching our kids to have a voice that is respected by us, early in life, can be a difficult lesson for even us to swallow and learn; but, it has to be learned.

My son was tired of my controlling his movements, during adversity in his life.. He angered me, when he came and told me that he was a "man" and needed to make his own mistakes; instead of learning what not to do, every time he got into a jam. Again, that upset me and I started going through a series of emotions that were "out of bounds," and uncalled for. I stayed upset for months, at him as he stumbled on his own and would not come to me for help. But, as upset as I was, I respected the "Guts" it took him to put himself out there.

Instructing, and Not Demanding, Works Well

Again, having to deal with my mental issues, causes me to have to re-evaluate almost my every move and decision. I spend a lot of time reviewing interactions with others and trying to seek out better ways of which a given interaction could have been changed to make it a little better, a little more positive. It does not matter if it is with a co-worker, a stranger, and more importantly my Children. It is another on of those things I sometimes curse and all too often take for granted.

But, by taking that time I found it is much easier to go back with friends, co-workers and my children and do somewhat of a "rewind" on comments and decisions, and even take back what I may have said, and ask for the person to allow me to retract and restate my position. This has helped my life and relationships, immensely. Even in times when I had to proverbially "Eat Crow" and admit that I was wrong.

Children, admire an adult whom is willing to admit that they don't have all of the answers; and often times will find relief in knowing that they themselves are not always wrong, in their feelings, assertions and views. (Heck, a lot of their views come from input from their parental figures, and other adults. Admitting wrong doing re-enforces their beliefs and trust in you; So, be proud to admit your child is right and you were wrong!)

Your child listens to every word, every ideal you express, every word you don't speak and your general attitudes. That is how they grew up mentally and emotionally. By expressing and confirming their being correct, even at the cost of having to admit you were wrong, should be a blessing that they got the messages they perceived correctly. You taught them, by the way! Be Proud they were paying attention and learned from you.

By allowing your child to make mistakes, to express their displeasures (even with you and your choices), is a very positive way for you to ensure that your child is not going to be allowing for themselves to be taken advantage of, or stand a lesser chance of becoming a victim, by just them being allowed to learn how to respectfully say no.

By demanding compliance, no matter the costs is actually setting a child to feel powerless, hopelessly locked in the will of others, and to feel they have no choices in life. However, if you instruct your child, on proper ways to communicate, to disagree, to acknowledge their discomfort levels, to walk away when things are too intense for them to handle, also to allow an open door for them to come back and face that discomfort, will pull your child closer to you and the family; instead of repelling them.. It will build strength and character in that child, and most importantly; it will build trust in your relationships with your kids.

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repoprimo profile image

repoprimo 2 years ago from California Author

Denise , thanks for the thoughts. Over the years, I have raised two families, with children. The struggles with the first family, were very difficult. However, thankfully, the kids grew up with a sense of who they are, and with the respect of my time with them. The second family, benefited from the experience and lessons, I took away from the first. I had less problems with this round, because I gave up the control issues, and gave the kids a more proactive voice, from the start.

I found out that the kids were less confrontational, and more responsive, and respectful of my role in the family.

denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

Children need to be heard. Like you, I have struggled with mental health issues in my adult life, and going through treatment taught me that I needed to have a voice. As I learned the principles you have outlined here, I also taught them to my children. They have all grown up with a healthy respect for authority, and the ability to say what needs to be said. It has been a joy to see them become active, productive adults, with high quality lives of their own!

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