Saturday, 15 December 2012

'Childism' - As Utterly Unacceptable as Sexism and Racism

In the past few decades, mankind has had to shake up their attitudes about a number of things. It is no longer considered to be 'ok' to degrade, humiliate, taunt or insult another human being on the grounds of their sex, race or sexuality. It still happens of course, but it is not considered acceptable. Make a sexist or racist joke down your local pub and you might get away with it. But post an image on Facebook that derides another human being, and you're likely to be reported or even prosecuted. That is, unless that image is of a child. Then it's ok.



These images have been doing the rounds this week. Most commenters seem to agree that they are 'hilarious':
"Comedy Gold'
"Gave me a smile - thanks"
"A bit of humour"
"I just love this!"

I beg to differ. The children in these pictures look sad, and humiliated. At a time when they clearly need help to sort out their sibling rivalries and calm their emotional storm, the grown ups responsible for their care have instead chosen to ridicule them. They are powerless to refuse this treatment, nor can they consent or otherwise to the photo being taken and shared on Facebook for the world to see.

It's hard to imagine any other group in society being treated in this way. But if we were to take a similarly degrading image of a woman, for example, there would be an outcry!

A few months ago I was inspired to write a post about tantrums when I saw this image on Facebook, and read the comments beneath it:


"Who needs a mop when you have a pre-schooler?!"
"PMSL!"
"I laughed so hard at this photo!"
"Good on the mum for carrying on!"

But is it really funny to see another human being in complete distress, and whatsmore, to take a picture of them and post it online?

These images are considered acceptable because they belong to a world in which we are prejudiced against children, seeing behaviour such as fighting with siblings or throwing tantrums in a shop as clear signs of their inability to control themselves, the burden they place on their carers, and their 'badness' or 'naughtiness'.

This is a world in which it is considered perfectly normal and justified to turn our backs on the distress of another human being, so long as they are a child. So normal, in fact, that you can learn exactly how to do it on prime time television. Note in this clip from Supernanny that the mother is twice offered comfort, whilst the emotional needs of the child are completely disregarded:



This attitude has been described as 'Childist' by Elizabeth Young-Bruehl, psychoanalyst and a leading expert on the nature of prejudice. Her book on the subject - Childism: Confronting Prejudice Against Children - is excellent, describing in complex detail how our childist attitudes - in just the same way as racism or sexism - create a world in which it becomes acceptable to dislike children or even harm and abuse them.

"CHILDIST beliefts - that children are burdensome and absorb more than their share of resources, that they should serve adults, that they are property, that they lack reason, that they are rebellious and must be broken through harsh discipline - do not reflect current scientific knowledge about children's development, capabilities, and needs. It is CHILDISM when adults interpret children's dependence as inferiority, and thus deny children's rights. We are CHILDIST when we transform the adult responsibility to care for children into an excuse to exercise unchecked power."
(Childism - extract from the Press Release)

It is time for us to stop finding it acceptable or even funny when we see evidence of childism, in real life or online. We need to take this prejudice seriously, and to stand up for children, who are often not given a voice in our current society and therefore unable to stand up for themselves. Once we recognise and acknowledge our childist attitudes, we take the first step towards much needed change.




Related Post: Let's Challenge Our Anti-Child Attitudes










88 comments:

  1. Great post, and the Supernanny video actually made me cry!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am fighting this very attitude in the families and friends surrounding me... but first I had to find it and get rid of it from within myself. The idea that children have rights was a foreign thought to me until recently. I am learning about treating babies with respect, not just children. Making fun of children is very harmful, I know I was always deeply offended as a child when I was made fun of for not knowing or doing something like the adults did. Thanks for a great post, as always!
    Sammy Greer

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sammy, yes, that is a very good point, we ALL have to fight these attitudes in ourselves. They are very engrained and my hope was that this post, whilst it might jangle or even upset some people, might also help to raise awareness and kick start change x

      Delete
  3. To add to my previous comment, the pictures of kids in get along shirts reminded me of the old practice of putting children in stocks and having rotten vegetables thrown at them. Only in the virtual world hundreds of thousands of people get to see them, laugh at them and comment. It's still public humiliation, and these children will grow up knowing that an unknown amount of people have seen their embarrassing picture and laughed at them.
    Sammy Greer

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Quite. And if you google 'vintage racist images' you will find a whole lot of adverts and posters from the 1950's and previous that similarly degrade people in the name of humour. :-(

      Delete
  4. Childism is a subject which really interests me, especially since becoming an intactivist. It shocks and astounds me that people view their children as property and ignore their emotional needs, often describing them as "looking for attention" I fail to see how their need to be comforted is less important than their other needs. Positive discipline is something I've been looking into as well as trying to find a school in my local area that shares my views which isn't the easiest task (but my partner will not allow me to home educate). The images of children with those get along shirts are horrible, I haven't seen them around, and the video of supernanny was also really hard to watch. Talking about childism is very hard as lots of people think it's fine to hit your children to teach them a lesson, which I think is infringing on their rights and in my mind is a form of abuse :( thank you for the article it was very interesting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sarah, how about you don't allow your partner to send your children to school? Why do they get the veto? Food for thought.

      Delete
  5. No parent is perfect and no child is either - I do NOT condone the images above and have always believed that a cuddles, kisses etc. do not spoil children but enhance - this said i am guilty of shouting sometimes I have a 12year old who's voyage of self discovery is testing to say the least and sometimes my powers of resonable parenting wobble. I think on the whole most parents try to be the best they can and wouldn't dream of hurting or humiliating there children.

    Schools have to take a new view - I was waiting a reception and witnessed a 6year old filling in the late book he was asked to sign and give a reason why he was late - I was gob smaked err....because his parents were late!!! how ths school feels that this is helping i dont know as he clearly has no control over mum or dad.

    Children do test boundries and disapline is needed but this can be served with love and affection.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I am certainly not perfect either!
      I do feel that if I could just manage to be respectful to my children 100% of the time, they would probably reciprocate! I'll keep trying.
      The school issue is tricky - they often have a whole different approach you are right. But luckily I think it is home and family that has by far the biggest impact.
      Thanks for your comment x

      Delete
  6. Completely agree. I feel that the extract from the book largely sums up the attitude of British society, one is not child-centric at all but rather is somewhere that children and babies are frowned upon unless they are silent and compliant. I didn't immediately think that the children in the first picture were being humiliated in a time of emotional trauma however on reflection could not agree more. Really pleased to have the opportunity to see this issue discussed and to have my own thoughts challenged! Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm not sure if you have a facebook page, but I would like to post a link to this article on my facebook wall, if that's alright with you?

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes I am on Facebook www.facebook.com/themulesmouth.
      You are more than welcome to share the post x

      Delete
  8. Eye opener! I never thought about those pictures like that...

    Can't get myself to watch the supernanny clip, just know it will make me cry!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it is not comfortable viewing. The fact that it is so popular makes it all the worse :-(

      Delete
  9. This video breaks my heart. It's focusing on the mother's emotions when CLEARLY the child is very distressed and just wants to be held and cuddled. Unreal. Just sleep with your child!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, there doesn't seem to be any attempt to connect with the little boy and ask him why he is in such a pickle in the first place! Very sad.

      Delete
  10. As for the photos, they just made me feel sad. I once saw a photo of a little girl that had been tied up by her dad so he could show the world how he disciplined his kids. I think it was on the Peaceful Parenting page but not sure x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds terrible. There was another one where a young person had to stand and hold a sign saying something like 'I Lied to my Dad'. Considered acceptable but again, if this was a woman with a sign saying 'I Lied to my Husband', there would be an outcry.

      Delete
  11. Amen. Been saying this for years.

    ReplyDelete
  12. That Supernanny clip is heartbreaking. It's helping brainwash it's viewers into thinking this is the "normal" way to deal with our children. Why not ask the child why they don't want to sleep in the crib.. or offer a toddler bed with a less "jail" type of feeling. He cleary doesn't like the crib and is being completely ignored. I cried watching that video. of this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Quite...this sort of thing is very 'desensitising' as you say.

      Delete
  13. Please, do not humiliate these children any further by posting their pictures. Including posting them to get your point across.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did think long and hard about this - in the end I decided that as I was sharing them in the spirit of defending and standing up for the children concerned, it was ok. I hope that if the children see this post now or in the future they will be glad that somebody shared the images with the aim of sticking up for their rights as opposed to the hundreds who have shared them with the aim of laughing at them. :-(

      Delete
  14. I have just read all the comments, but can't say that I agree with ANY" of you!
    If this Mummy lets her child get HIS WAY now, when he is only 2, how on earth is she going to Keep Him SAFE Later In Life??????? If he has NO Regard for what is said to him, if he chooses to ignore her here, and do whatever HE wants....
    Well, how can she ever teach him to 'cross the road' safely??? Or NOT to touch a HOT OVEN????? If he is not 'taught' here, How On Earth Is She Going To 'Deal With' her 15 year old???
    How will she STOP him from taking her car, Or anything else that older children will want to do???????
    We, As Parents, HAVE To Train Our Children, While They ARe Young!
    How will we ever teach them to RESPECT THEMSELVES if they don't know how to RESPECT their parents, and do what they are told?!!!?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think this attitude belongs to a school of thought that believes that children are inherently 'bad' and need to be 'taught' to behave. You could look at it another way, that people are inherently good, and that if we put our trust in them, they will not be 'spoiled' by our harsh words and punishing lessons.
      My children respect me because I respect them. It is pretty simple really.
      Thanks for your comment, I hope you get some constructive replies, and that other readers will show you that we don't need to be cruel or shaming to 'teach lessons', and that we teach respect and kindness by being respectful and kind. x

      Delete
    2. there is a significant developmental difference between toddlers and teenagers. toddlers don't understand that you are trying to teach them a lesson of respect when you torment them like this. they see it as a break in trust. i do agree that children need to be taught to respect their parents but this is not how to do it. this has nothing to do with respect. this child needs to be comforted by his mother. he is not acting out or being disobedient. he has an inherent need to feel comfort from a person he is supposed to be able to trust to love and take care of him. ignoring children teaches them to do wrong and hide it from you, rather than coming to you when there is something they need to discuss. if you teach your child from birth that they can trust you and rely on you when they're in need, there is not as much of a worry of them disregarding what you teach them later. this mom is destroying her child's trust, which is partially what leads to children not taking heed to their parents' advice and instruction later in life.

      Delete
    3. I agree with you 100%. This is moronic.

      Delete
    4. I think it all goes back to something you mentioned in your comment: RESPECT. How can we, as parents, expect respect from our children when WE do not respect THEM?! "Training" them is not respecting them. It is telling them that they are inherently wrong, that we do not approve of them as individuals, that we do not believe they have a right to choose for themselves. We need to show our children respect if we want it in return. Teach by example and not shame and humiliation.

      Delete
    5. The child in the video is very clearly distressed. And he is ONLY 2, he is still very little, and I don't see him as trying to have it his own way. I see a child that probably has night terrors, or maybe he's just going through a phase where he needs contact at night. My older daughter is 2 and a half, a very independent, caring, compassionate and respectful little girl, but at the moment she needs to be with us at night. So we let her be with us. And you know what? Sometimes she goes back to her own bed in the middle of the night. And I agree with The Mule, my daughters respect us because we respect them.

      Delete
    6. Anonymous, I commend you for posing your doubts as questions. I agree that the child in the video fell asleep as was the goal, but I am also wondering what the conversation with the child might have been the next day.
      Children, as any people, can learn very well when they understand.
      It is indeed very disturbing that the mother has her hand held while her "heart is ripped from her chest" listening to her child cry, because I can't imagine the child's pain of seeing his mother sit there and ignore him when he is calling her--his heart is being "ripped" out as well, if not moreso. In fact, neurological research is showing that there are negative metabolic effects of baby's and young children's ignored cries for attention and touch.
      The child may have fallen asleep, but he probably did so with the knowledge that he is alone in his fear, and that his mother has little to no concern. As well, he sees his mother being comforted by this "new friend". Whatever the parents may have done "wrong" before could have been remedied in ways other than ignoring that which is making him miserable.
      The lesson for this child is not how to self-soothe, but rather that mum cannot be trusted to help me when things aren't working out. The "battle" seems "over", but will surely resurface with potentially more serious rebellions later on. Again, add to that the research that shows the rise in levels of defensive hormones in the child's bloodstream after being ignored by the parent.
      These moments are when respect is born, or compromised.
      Of the children I know and have known (and I've cared for hundreds of children over the years), the ones who have the sincerest respect for their parents and themselves, and display the least anger, are also responded to with great respect, and their emotional needs are honoured and respected. They aren't the ones who were "trained" with heavy discipline.
      Empathy is the key to building trust and respect, in my opinion, and self-respect comes from being treated with respect.
      Thanks, Anonymous, for continuing the discussion.

      Delete
    7. This person that doesn't agree with the other comments seems to have 'respect' confused with 'fear'. What these pics and the SuperNanny clip have done is teach these children that their parents can not be someone to go to when troubled or upset. Respect goes both ways, parents need to respect their child and have open communication for all those things you mention that 'teens(older children) will want to do'. That in itself is false, I have seven children...five of them adults now...and not once did any of them want to take my car or anything like that. Humiliation should never be a part of parenting, there are many, many other ways to teach a child what is right and wrong, these involve morals and values, neither of which are in place when these t-shirts are used then the photos put online. As for 'training' children??? They are children not puppies. Children mostly learn from watching not listening, role-model the behaviour you would like, the leasons you wish to teach, the values you would like to instill....humiliation and disconcern for your child's emotions just teaches them how to humiliate and disrespect others when and if others don't do as they want.
      Thanks for posting this blog The Mule, great to see.

      Delete
    8. Thanks for all your respectful and insightful comments so far on this thread x

      Delete
    9. I have to say I completely agree with the original anonymous poster.

      No one is trying to scare the child in that video. The mother is sitting right there, making sure he is not hurting himself or feeling alone. It is 100% in his best interests to sleep through the night, not least for his own physical development. Night time is for sleeping! How on earth is he being humiliated or abused?

      This is the FIRST night of a process that is too complicated for a 2yo to understand. He cries for twenty minutes, and then goes to sleep. Not from exhaustion, he stops crying, and then a few mins later lies down. The next night will take much less time, and within a few days he will be sleeping independently.

      If any of you choose to co-sleep, that is 100% your decision, but please dont tell me it comes without any problems of its own. None of you have children who cant fall asleep until you go to bed? None of you have children who needed to be weaned off of it in a similarly difficult way at a much older age? Or kids who became afraid of being alone or in the dark?

      No method of parenting is without its challenges, and I think you are all being extremely judgemental to a mother who is just trying to do her best by her son. You have no idea what she does the following morning.

      In our home, we are also sleep training our two year old who has been moved into a bed to make him more comfortable, and yes-less 'jail-like' as one of you said. It is a long process and involves a lot of tears on both our parts. He cannot talk yet, even a few words, so the way he tells me he is upset is through his tears. But I would never confuse this with psychological damage on his part. He is not a newborn baby, and he understands exactly what is expected of him, none of which is unreasonable! I reassure him the first few times, (like the lady in the video did, with plenty of cuddles and kisses) and then I stop talking to him. Why? Because, if I didnt, it would go on and on for hours. That is seriously cruel in my opinion. My consistency means that he will be a confident sleeper within a few days. In the morning, I praise him as much as possible for sleeping so well and use only positive reinforcement to show him that on the contrary to many of your opinions, I do not think of him as 'bad' or 'naughty', it is just something he hasnt learned yet.

      Yes, they learn from watching. But what children need is not always mirrored in adults. I want my baby to drink milk as a toddler, so I should be drinking from a sippy cup each night? If my son runs in the street, I should run in myself and show him how I get run over? There are many ways of kids learning things, and I dont see why ours is any less legitimate than yours. I truly believe my son does respect me for keeping to my boundaries and encouraging him to learn things independently without me being on top of him 24/7.

      In terms of the photos, plastering them online is mean and humiliating. That seems to me to be the main problem. Personally I wouldnt use that kind of means to encourage my kids to be nice to one another, but for some families it might be effective, even cause humour to dispel the bickering between them.

      Your argument falls apart on the simple premise that kids have the same emotional and intellectual intelligence as adults. They dont. Sometimes they need to be told what is best for them.

      Delete
    10. Very well said. I completely agree.

      I disagree with posting those pics online, but the Supernanny video did a good job of showing how to help a child learn to self-comfort and go to sleep--something which is so important to a child.

      And a child who CAN'T go to sleep without lying down with Mommy for an hour first, and then waking up if Mommy moves, is not healthy, either. When do Mommy and Daddy get alone time? A married couple needs to get their own time, and children need to get to sleep at a decent hour.

      When children have been consistently nursed to sleep, and then cuddled to sleep, they don't know how to just "go to sleep". And that can create absolute chaos in a family, leading to absolute exhaustion. If you watched this whole Supernanny episode, you would see how much more peaceful the WHOLE family was at the end--the child as well as the parents--because the child learned to sleep on his own. He was still cuddled and hugged, and given a bathtime and storytime first so he felt connected to his parents. But he learned to sleep on his own.

      We had to train our children to sleep. It took 20 minutes of crying one night, 10 minutes the next, and then they were both fine. They went to bed happily, and they slept well, and my husband and I had great family time together.

      To say that it's better to lie down with the child is also saying that it's better to spend several hours a day (as this woman was doing) trying to soothe your child--hours that you likely need on your own, or with your husband, for sanity.

      So I think there's a huge difference between training your children lovingly and treating them with disrespect by posting pictures online.

      The pictures are wrong. Training children to sleep is not.

      Delete
    11. However lovingly you 'train' your children you're doing something which is biologically unnatural, probably because you believe that the developmentally appropriate need for a child to be close to his parents is somehow wrong. But that belief is a cultural construct - for some reason in our culture we have the expectation that having a child won't impact the parents lives much, that the aim of good parenting is to minimise those needs and behaviours which prevent us from living as if we had no children.

      Delete
  15. i've been feeling the same way seeing these photos plastered online. i never found them amusing. it's cruel to humiliate your children. not only did these parents use ridiculous tactics of forcing their children to "get along," rather than attempt to determine the underlying issue and correct it. i literally cried watching the clip of supernanny. i can't believe a mother would sit and listen to her child scream for her and just completely ignore him. that is just cruel! the mom even felt bad about it and cried herself. even if i felt like i knew absolutely nothing about parenting, i would not ignore my instinct to comfort my child, regardless of anyone's advice. cry-it-out is one of the cruelest things that can be done to a baby/toddler. it's torture and so selfish on the parent's part. why is it a toddler's responsibility to self-soothe and teach himself to fall asleep alone? he's a kid and not that long ago he was literally physically part of you. he needed to be comforted by his mom and she totally disregarded it. that's destroying his trust in her and it's so sad. what good comes of tormenting children? once they learn to fall asleep on their own, do you feel like a better parent? do you feel like you've succeeded because you've forced your child to do something completely unnatural to them through torture. it's so unfortunate that this nation does not understand that children are human beings and deserve just as much love and respect (if not more) as adults. i'll never understand how people can exude this love of the innocence, preciousness and importance of children on one hand and treat them with such disdain and disrespect on the other. childism is real. it needs to be realized and eradicated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. I like your point about the mixed attitudes, not sure why that is, but I will think about that idea some more, thanks for your comment x

      Delete
  16. Thank you for writing this post. It is such an acceptable thing to ridicule children anytime and anywhere and I am very uncomfortable with it. Another issue that might be discussed is the parents deciding that it's absolutely fine for them to splatter photos of ANY nature of their children over the internet. We are learning daily of the facts of the supposed privacy of our internet (facebook in particular) content being not so private after all, and not even being owned by us once it's posted. This begs the question, shouldn't we need permission from people in the photos we are posting in order to put them up? And children, who are people, and who have a future in the work force - trying to find jobs and be potentially looked up by their prospective employers - will then have potentially thousands of photos of themselves that they did not post wandering around in cyberspace. It is a haunting thought, and one that has led me to think differently about what I put out there for the world to see. But I digress... thank you for this post. It's a refreshing thing to hear someone speak out against such a negative cultural norm.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Anon.
      I actually removed all of the images of breastfeeding children from this blog a long time ago for the reason you state. We are a bit young and naive in this new world of the internet, I think.
      Thanks for your comment x

      Delete
  17. The Super Nanny clip was heartbreaking to watch. I cried for that child and you see the exact point where he gives up after his Mum repeatedly failed to meet his needs. This seals it for me in regard to sleep training. It's just NOT right. Before I had a child of my own I never thought I'd ever co-sleep but my it is the most peaceful way for our small family to all be happy at night time, together. You don't stop meeting your child's needs just because it's night time, that's when they need you most. Super Nanny = not so super. Old school. And do you know what her biggest problem is? She has no children of her own. Love to the children and thanks for the great post x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. Yes, like Gina Ford, also childless.
      I agree with you completely - night time is often when they need us the most. x

      Delete
    2. As an ECE with yet no children of my own I find these comments insensitive and borderline snobbish. Just because the nanny has no children of her own it is not fair to say definitively that this is the reason that her technique is so wrong and that she could never understand the needs of a child because she has none. Well the mother has a child and she went along with the nanny! I have met several parents and they would agree with the nanny, and many educators with children of their own who would prescribe the same technique. I agreed with the article right up until this bit of unfair judgement and rather ironic dismissal of respect to an entire demographic of people who work with children yet are childless, because of the actions of one individual.

      When I studied early childhood education they did not tell me that I would not be competent or my opinion valued until I bore and raised children of my own. I was taught child development, and the value of play and nature, and guiding behaviour with patience and encouragement. Working with children, they way you want to see it, involves a genuine respect and affection for children, and usually that is a gift that shows itself in people long before they have children of their own. That you are implying that all of this means nothing if you are childless leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

      Delete
    3. I don't think I implied that all of your education means nothing if you are childless Lisa. However, I do think that motherhood brings a completely new perspective on many many aspects of life that no formal learning could ever replicate. It is not very PC to say things like that. I have noticed very much in my time as a blogger that if you make a statement that makes a group feel 'left out' you are liable to end up in hot water. Say that mothers offer something that fathers don't or can't, for example, and people start hopping up and down in protest. But I'm sorry, motherhood is a unique place, and I can't make that right for those who are not mothers yet or who never will be! I would be the first to admit that my practice as a therapist before I had children certainly had some big 'gaps' in it that motherhood has begun to fill. Just as I don't now have the perspective of someone who is in their 80's, has lived most of their life and is looking death squarely in the eye...I can try to empathise with them, but I won't truly have that perspective until I get there. Motherhood transforms us.

      Delete
  18. The Super Nanny clip was heartbreaking to watch. I cried for that child and you see the exact point where he gives up after his Mum repeatedly failed to meet his needs. This seals it for me in regard to sleep training. It's just NOT right. Before I had a child of my own I never thought I'd ever co-sleep but my it is the most peaceful way for our small family to all be happy at night time, together. You don't stop meeting your child's needs just because it's night time, that's when they need you most. Super Nanny = not so super. Old school. And do you know what her biggest problem is? She has no children of her own. Love to the children and thanks for the great post x

    ReplyDelete
  19. Agree with so many of you on here! The humiliation or distress on the children's faces says it all for me. Totally unacceptable. Great article!

    ReplyDelete
  20. That Supernanny clip is psychotic! Sitting there, ignoring him? Poor baby.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Also agree with so much that has been said here and love this blog post. Super Nanny drives me insane and leaves me feeling helpless. With a little positive support, these parents would find life so much easier. The toddler in that video just wants to be with his parents. What's wrong with being in the arms of a loved one as you fall asleep? We didn't impose bedtimes and loved our evenings with our family. Living life at a family pace is so rewarding.

    And now, as older teens, our kids take full responsibly for getting enough sleep to deal with whatever the next day brings. We didn't have to suffer heart-breaking nights to get them to this point.

    Also important to remember to always get a child's consent before posting photos or stories about them and to think twice if they are too young to understand what you are asking. Protecting my children's privacy has been so very difficult because everyone thinks everything they do or say is up for discussion. I have other parents I confide in when I'm feeling frustrated or need just need to talk - we all need that - but my one or two friends understand the need for discretion.

    Thanks for posting this.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'm glad to have read this article, and consider it a valuable perspective, but it will take some time to sort out exactly where I stand on this.
    To begin with there's the old saw, "every child is different, every parent is different, every family is different." To use myself as an example I'm a single mom and have been since very early on in my pregnancy. Since I had no family around and knew I would be raising my daughter on my own I knew it would be imperative to set a firm bedtime for my daughter so that I could have at least two to three hours in the evening to take care of chores and have some downtime.
    I nursed and so-slept with my daughter and when she was a baby would slip out of bed after she fell asleep to get my time to myself. If she woke up and cried I would go back to bed, nurse again, and leave afterwards. When she got to about the age of 16-18 months I put a sippy cup of water by the bed and told her that if she woke up she could have some water and go back to sleep. I child proofed the room and put a latch on the outside of the door so she could not wander out. She tested a few times to see what would happen and I did a "Super Nanny Style" thing of reminding her one time if I heard the knob rattle, and thereafter ignoring her. She very quickly learned that she should just go back to sleep because she was not going to get out of that room no matter what.
    I was (and still am) similarly firm with meal times. After the age of nursing on demand (maybe ten months) there were set meal and snack times and only one thing served. If my daughter chose not to eat what I served I would say, "ok, but there's not going to be any more food until the next meal time." If she would ask between meals I would remind her that she had chosen not to eat her last meal, but that there would be another chance at the next meal. Consequently while many of my friends are dealing with "picky eaters" my daughter eats almost everything. There is one thing she genuinely dislikes: liver and onions, and since everyone has a few items they prefer not to have I will let her have something else if I cook liver.
    My daughter is very well behaved, happy, creative, outgoing, and expressive. She feels free to tell me how she feels and I don't get angry with her for disagreeing with me - but she is not allowed to be disrespectful or argue with me once I've made a final decision. As I say to her many a time, "this is not a democracy, I am the boss, when you grow up and have the responsibilities of an adult you will get a vote - until then I have the final word".
    My main point here is that it is possible to be firm yet respectful. Each family is free to do things in their own way, depending on the emotional resources and time available to them. Is shaming wrong? Yes. Is making decisions and setting boundaries based on your limits as a parent? No.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally agree with everything you said and respect you much for raising your daughter this way!

      Delete
  23. Every day another child goes to jail. No longer are children forced to learn right from wrong. I think the get along shirts are a waste of time. It teaches them nothing. At some point people will have to realize that they are hurting their child's chance at making it in this world. Please people see the truth and discipline your child before it is to late for them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't like to state the obvious, but I don't think you will find that prisons are full of adults who as children were given love and affection unlimited. In most cases people who live criminal lives have had difficult childhoods and suffered neglect, ill treatment and abuse.
      "At some point, people will have to realise" that there is NO connection between giving love and respect to children and later problems in life.

      Delete
  24. So basically what you're saying is the child should always get it's way, even if they are tired and NEED to be put to sleep? I don't agree with her ignoring him, but I also do not agree with giving into every little thing the child wants. Children need to be told no and taught boundaries.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you completely that it is ok to say no to children and that boundaries are important. However, where we part company is your idea that comfort is a 'little thing'. Comfort is possibly the best thing we can ever do for our children, and to withhold it is never right under any circumstances.

      Delete
    2. Yes every child is different and we should have a whole bag of tools to help the child do whats best FOR THEM. Most nights my son is tired, eyes dropping but forcing himself to stay awake- will cry and shout and do anything not to be put to bed- I have to try really hard to get him to sleep- some nights its rocking, some its nursing others its walks in the sling- It isn't best for me, some nights it takes hours, I dont get to "have my evening" have "adult time" or watch whatever crap I want on the TV- but who cares, its called parenting, its what the child needs at that moment- and it doesn't matter if that moment is at 10am or 10pm you are still the parent, the caregiver, the adult. If your baby NEEDS to sleep you do whatever it takes to HELP baby sleep - you don't just lay them down to cry - that's not about boundaries or saying NO - when should you ever withhold your love?

      What should be publicized is NORMAL baby & child behavior or sleep patterns maybe then people wouldn't feel that something is wrong when their kids won't "sleep through the night".

      Delete
    3. I agree that we should never withhold love, but disagree that we must always do what's best for the child. We need to do what is best for the family as a whole, whatever size and shape that may take. If the parent is completely exhausted they will not be as patient and kind as they would have been if they had gotten enough sleep.
      Also, showing your child that their needs are more important than the needs of the rest of the family instills a sense of selfishness in my opinion. I'm not saying that children, or anyone, is inherently selfish - but if they see you killing yourself to attend to their every desire they will think that is the way of the world. As they get older that expectation will not serve them well. I'm not talking about infants here, or letting anyone "cry it out" - I'm just talking about a bedtime routine that settles the child down with the expected result of getting the child the amount of sleep they need to be healthy and the parents the time in the evening to do what they need to do.

      Delete
    4. I think this is dependent on the age of the child.
      For a baby, or very small child, 'giving in' to their needs, in particular if they need comfort, will not instil selfishness, since the 'self' is only partially developed, and by giving comfort you simply help to aid the development of a strong and secure sense of self.
      As hard as it is, during this crucial period of development, we MUST always do what is best for the child, regardless of whether this means it is not best for us. We must 'take the hit' on their behalf.
      Attending to every desire and need of a baby or very small child does not teach them to have this expectation of the world i.e. create a selfish adult. Rather it teaches them that they are loveable, to love themselves and feel safe and secure within themselves.
      As a child grows older there is room for negotiation, sharing and asserting the needs of the adult.

      Delete
    5. Notice I said in my above comment, "I'm not talking about an infant here, or letting them "cry it out" - so I think we're on the same page. When children are very young there is an expected amount of fatigue and extreme self sacrifice that you're pretty much signing on for by bringing them into the world.

      Delete
  25. I agree with this completely, but would like to point out that sometimes my children like me to drag them across of the floor of the store for fun, because it is slippery. Just sayin'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In this case the picture was posted with a small narrative about the child being in the midst of a 'tantrum'. This was not a 'fun' moment.

      Delete
  26. The pictures are not acceptable however the video I 110% agree with supper nanny.
    Every parents deserves their sanity. They filled that babies emotional needs by not leaving his side. They sat by his crib till he fell asleep. The world doesn't need to co-sleep nor does it need to give into their child who is having a melt down because they do not want to go to bed. I send my 5 year old to bed about once a week and she fits until she passes out. Children get over tired and need space and alone time and down time. They don't always need a mother. It is natural to need space and quiet time. There is no reason on the face of the earth that a child can't sleep on their own. The only time my children sleep with my husband and I is if they are sick. When I nursed I would wake take my babies ot the chair nurse sing coo and smile and then I would lay them in their own bed. If they cried a little from putting them down I simply rubbed their head said night night I love you and walked out. They were not hungry or cold they were simply fighting sleep.
    Supper nanny handled this amazingly!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I couldnt agree more with this.

      Delete
    2. 'once a week she fits until she passes out' How can you admit this in public?! Would you be happy to admit this about your partner, or your elderly relative? Would you ignore them in their distress in this way?

      Could it not be that she needs something more than food or a blanket, something that she can't articulate, something that perhaps none of us can really articulate, just the presence of another who really cares and is willing to tune in to us and be with us in the 'darkness'.

      Delete
    3. Wow, a 5 year old, once a week??? Yeah clearly that technique is working.
      If you left an animal to bark or scream till it passed out someone would call RSPCA on you. If it were an employee you'd be up on charges, or an elderly person would be removed from your care for gross neglect.
      There IS a medium between treating your child like a terrorist at Guantanomo Bay and sleeping with your child every minute till theyre 18 - and it occurs naturally. I gently parented my son to sleep since birth (in a cot - and then futon) and he started going to sleep on his own after a book at around 2. My daughter co-slept but she would go down after a breastfeed and sleep a couple of hours on her own then I would get in with her and she'd wake a couple of times through the night to feed, till she could easily be refused a night feed and weaned with loving support from both parents.
      I don't blame parents for feeling this way though and the more I see of this kind of parenting the less I feel we can blame our kids and young adults for being so disconnected from how their actions affect others. That SuperNanny video is HEARTBREAKING. Why can't he have a light on? Why can't someone rub his back on the couch, or why can't he be in a cot in the parent's room, or in a toddler bed so he doesnt feel like he's in a cage. Since he can easily climb out he's too big for a crib. Shutting the door on him in the dark??? Shocking shocking stuff.

      Delete
  27. Ok so I have a question then...I know of many moms who didn't "train" their children to sleep (and listen, children NEEEEED sleep for proper development no?) and they now have 3 year olds who wake them up 3, 4 times a night. I'm sorry, but that is not healthy - for the child or the parent. Is it then bad for me to wait 5 mintues of crying to go to my child? Or 4 minutes? 3 minutes? Tell me what is acceptable from a mutual respect point of view? Just want to say I DO NOT AGREE with the pictures at all....didn't watch the whole super nanny but some I didn't agree with. When my child cries and my first response is to roll my eyes, instead I ask him if he needs a hug so I feel I'm doing a pretty good job but then I read posts like this that make me feel bad if I let my kids cry a bit when being put to bed. And I'm sorry but it's not that kids are inherently bad, in fact they are not....(watch this video!!!!) http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/episode/born-to-be-good-1.html
    but they are not MATURE enough to understand many things right? I think that is what we are trying to "teach" them....not "correct" them. I agree with a lot but I also disagree that because we are tying to encourage them to sleep (very important) that we are assuming they are "wrong" or "bad" or whatever you are trying to convince us of. enough already. We moms do our very best...and I am a firm believer in the "yes" philosophy, and reggio etc. but I also believe in sleep.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. KL - I do believe in sleep too but I also think that children usually wake for a genuine reason and we should not ignore them in their distress at night any more than we would in the day. Yes, it is hard to have our own sleep broken but as the grown ups I think we should be prepared to do that for our children.
      Young-Bruehl points out in her book about Childism that almost always when people champion the needs of children they are accused of subverting the needs of adults - as we see happening in some of these comments.
      Why do we find it so hard to put children first?

      Delete
    2. There are children that are 3 and 4 or even older and still waking - though I tend to think in those cases there is something else going on. There are kids that were "trained" in exactly the same boat. There is always a reason. Sleep is important but not more than your child's emotional needs. They should advertise it more that having a child means you WILL LOSE SLEEP - if you can't go without 8hours of sleep a night - GET A DOG!

      Delete
  28. To all of you who are saying the mother in the video should comfort and give attention to her son- what if she has already done that for a good amount of time? Do you think she should do that every night for as long as it takes to calm him down? What if he makes a habit of pitching a fit for three hours every night? That attention has to stop somewhere. The child will never learn that he needs to go to bed at a reasonable time. He will catch on to the fact that screaming and throwing fits will result in mom giving him more attention, which can be unhealthy. I do not agree with adults giving EXCESSIVELY of themselves for their children. Marriages, personal interests, and entire lives can be wrecked by doing so- I've seen it with my own eyes! When your children are all grown and gone (which they WILL be no matter how attached your parenting is), you'd better hope your spouse is still there and has felt loved through all the years.

    Balance is everything!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your comment seems to come from a place of fearing children will somehow take over if we allow ourselves to be tender towards them. This is simply not the case. Listening to a child's emotional needs will not create a demon, ignoring them might.

      Delete
  29. Yours a is a wonderful post and you have really helped me resolve some thoughts. Thank you so much - supernany is harsh and victorian as a method of repression and control. Can you imagin being treated this way as an adult! Fabulous blog post.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Great post. I have linked to you here: http://consciousmum.co.uk/a-child-is-an-upgrade-on-us/
    Liska xx

    ReplyDelete
  31. An excellent, thought provoking post.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I don't necessarily see the "this is our get along shirt" picture in the same light as you, but I definitely agree that there are things our society allows against children that would NOT be acceptable elsewhere and it saddens me.

    I'm surrounded by people who think children should be out of sight, out of mind, and constantly want to have an adult conversation by telling kids to just "go play" and constantly ignoring them. How many of us would tolerate being treated that way? We talk to kids with attitudes that we'd never use when speaking to others. Parents are told that we need all authority--never explain yourself to your child, never tell them why, just make them obey. Is that the way WE want to be treated? NO!

    And, even spanking is still pushed by so many people. We aren't supposed to hit anyone, unless it's a defenseless child...yeah, that makes sense.

    Maybe I need to write my own post about this, instead of writing one in your comments! lol

    ReplyDelete
  33. I couldn't even watch that horrendous video of the 'supernanny'. Makes me feel ill! You would never leave an adult to cry like that- in what world is it acceptable to leave a child to cry!!!! Horrid!*

    ReplyDelete
  34. I have really appreciated reading these comments and theres one thing that really sticks out to me that maybe I can help to illustrate by relaying this story: Our next door neighbor's family was implicated in the very horrific murder of a baby when I was sixteen. One morning I found our neighbor wailing in her driveway, unable to take her medication because of the accumulated repetitive physical abuse she had suffered from her husband over the years. People were staring at her from their driveways but no one stepped forward to comfort her. We went inside to her house and over the next couple of hours she told me of the events that had led to her sisters baby's death. During that time her husband came home and he sat down with us at the table and he opened up as well. I have always been grateful and felt privileged to have heard their stories, it gave me the slightest bit of access to a world that although only next door, might as well have been in another solar system. The world I glimpsed was/is crippled by many things such as alcoholism, violence, individual and collective disempowerment - and it's the children that bear the brunt of it. I realized then that it wasn't just one person responsible for that baby's death, or the immediate family's but our whole entire community. I'm only sharing this highly personal experience because, when watching the supernanny video the one main thing that jumps out at me is that: This mother is in an empowered position to decide what is best for her baby and can devote time and patience to the method she has chosen. As a loving and well meaning community we can see clearly that this baby is clothed, healthy (well feed) and LOVED! I just wanted to share this perspective with the hope that maybe we could stop judging and analyzing the in's and out's of each others parenting styles because it's highly likely that there is someone in the solar system next door that needs us more!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's so interesting Dandy Lion, because all the way through your interesting story I thought you were going to come down on the side of this post, rather than opposed to it. The way I see it, your story sums up what can happen when childism is taken to it's most terrible extreme. Children are often made scapegoats for adults inability to cope - sometimes this is 'mild' as in the Supernanny clip, sometimes it is extreme and has tragic consequences. All of these stories are part of the same whole - they all take their place on the spectrum of childism.
      I don't think it is good enough to say - hey, get some perspective here, there is plenty of worse stuff going on than this! You could have said this to Rosa Parks - hey lady, it's only a seat on a bus, plenty of worse stuff happens than this! Or to women in the early 20th century, so you don't get to vote, chill out, you have all got nice places to live and food to eat, what is your problem!
      The subtle details of how we live our lives can have big implications, and what seems insignificant or not worth fighting for to one generation can seem unspeakable injustice to the next.

      Delete
  35. My wife and I do a podcast as used this blog as inspiration for this week's show. i cannot agree with this blog enough. thank you for writing and thank you for sharing. if you're interested in hearing our take you can go to http://www.zenparentingradio.com/archive/learn-how-to-discipline-kids-without-humiliation/
    Todd

    ReplyDelete
  36. Thank you for this post! I work in childcare and it is so good to see that other people feel the way I do about this!

    ReplyDelete
  37. My apologies for not reading through all of the excellent comments on this thread. It's a lot. If I am repeating information already given, again, apologies. But for those parents who suggest that children as young as 2 years old should understand the consequences of their actions should take a look into Gordon Neufeld and his thoughts on preschoolers. Very briefly, since it's a time investment to go through his great insights, a child's prefrontal lobe (where decision making happens, i.e.: understanding consequences) does not develop until 6 or 7 years old. The same goes for the corpus callosum. This is the part that connects both halves of your brain. Without these, children are essentially physically unable to understand. There is no amount of learning that can help. It's a physical handicap. It's like trying to teach a person in a wheelchair to walk. Unless they have the equipment, it can't be done. Expecting it of them and then forcing them to endure the negative consequences of something they are not even physically capable of accomplishing is severely unkind.

    ReplyDelete
  38. That Super Nanny video was like torture. Absolutely horrific and I felt so sorry for that little boy. Before I became a mother, I actually enjoyed watching that show and thought she knew her stuff. Wow. Now that I have my own 2-year-old, I would never, ever do that to him. I couldn't even believe as I was watching it the difference in my reaction to what I was seeing. I watched through completely new eyes. I am so happy we co-sleep!

    ReplyDelete
  39. But how do you make sure your kids grow up into well-adjusted responsible non-bratty non-violent adults?? What EXACTLY are you supposed to do? Obviously spanking is out (having been subject to that growing up, I would never ever do that) but if you aren't supposed to do time-outs or creative punishments (like the get along shirt) and you aren't supposed to just ignore the bad behavior (like the parent in the store whose kid is having a tantrum on the floor), then what SPECIFICALLY are you supposed to do? I'm not trying to start an argument, I really want to know because I want to know what I'm supposed to do with the kids I'll have in the future.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I recently pinned then deleted a picture I saw on Facebook of a mom caught doing something "unacceptable." No one knows her exact reason for what she was doing, and posting it to go around the world is not loving. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If I was in a stressful situation and I took an unconventional route to solve the problem, I would not appreciate being treated this way. Instead of taking a picture, why not offer to help!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Oh the video. I've seen a clip of supernanny before, but this! That psychopath posing as a child development expert knows absolutely nothing about meeting the needs of baby and mom. Why was dad dismissed for wanting to hold him to sleep on the couch? This is like one of those awful side shows at old circuses where they tormented some poor animal or person. Sick sick sick. This show needs to be taken off the air as it openly and proudly promotes child abuse and neglect. This entire family will suffer the consequences of creating an environment where children know they can't trust their parents (and possibly anyone else) to meet their needs. The worst part is, Supernanny takes advantage of the fact that desperate parents seeking help, trust HER more than their own instinct to pick up their crying babies. Did you see her evil smile upon realizing the child had lost all hope of comfort?

    ReplyDelete
  42. Our society values "adult control" so very highly and proudly that the facts of children, the learning process, and the lack of real control are uncomfortable and denied whenever possible. http://minimalistmum.blogspot.co.nz/2010/07/in-defense-of-peter-pan.html

    ReplyDelete