Hello. My name is Sarah and I’m a recovering adultist. Before our children were born, my husband and I were the best backseat parents out there. We firmly believed that children should have a ‘healthy fear’ of their parents and intended to use the ‘wait till your dad gets home’ method of parenting. But our children kicked our intuitive selves into high gear with their births and their amazing and beautiful development and innate sense of themselves. We listened, learned, researched, talked, and acted according to this new awareness that our children were not an extension of ourselves but rather individuals who deserved and needed respect and nurturance of their independent growth. Our vision of our relationship with our children was one of mutual respect and joy. To maintain this, we knew we needed to shift our perspectives and act in a way that fostered this desire.
Teresa Brett wrote about this in our first issue of Rethinking Everything PARENT and her honest language really kicks me into gear. She’s not afraid to call a spade a spade, to point out that traditional discipline is, in fact, ‘abuse,’ and traditional parenting behaviors, well, ‘adultism.’ I love that she shares so openly about her journey from there to here… and beyond. Her awareness that she is a work in process makes her revelations and transformation feel accessible to her audience. Academically minded and clinically trained, Teresa provides a bridge for those needing to rationalize their parenting decisions and provides research-based validation for those worried about the future.
I am definitely on board with Teresa’s vision of providing children with a trusted mentor, friend, and confidante and debunking the top-down parenting mentality that is so pervasive in our society. It blends well with my ideal for parenting and supporting my children in their personal growth and development. The focus on continued rethinking and assessment of our personal baggage in times of inflammation or resistance is reassuring. An expert who is aware and supportive of infinite process is refreshing because there really is no end to rethinking!
I think what Teresa wrote for PARENT, Unlearning Adultism, may be just about the most important idea in radically alternative, connected parenting, that I have ever come across. There is so much that is important in the parent/child relationship but aldultism is the dysfunctional backbone to all the mistakes we make as parents.
As for me, when my first child was born at home 29 years ago, I was profoundly struck by my overwhelming, all consuming love for him. This powerful feeling of love had me questioning every book I’d read and every person I’d talked to on parenting. Everything I’d come across thusfar felt like managing a child, not loving a child. Within a few days I knew I had to metaphorically throw everything I thought I knew about children out the window and start from scratch. This meant consciously choosing to listen to my baby, every minute, every day, and respond with what love felt like. My children, even as infants, taught me how intelligent they were and how dumb I was. I am so grateful now that I had the courage then to humble myself to their intelligent guidance and not force them to succumb to what I thought was right and correct and necessary for their rich development. They are still teaching me so much, not only about how to live, but about what’s important in this lifetime. They’ve taught me by example how to tune into myself for guidance, and not others, not systems, not experts.
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