Sunday, April 15, 2012

Empowering victims? How NOT to teach your child to tie their shoelaces

Once upon a time..minding my own business....

I overheard a father say to his young toddler son in a waiting area : "Boy,  you need to learn to tie your own laces. You have to know how to do things for yourself." 
"If you don't know how to do things for yourself, a woman is gonna have to do it for you and then she's gonna treat you bad!"

At the time I didn't think about it too deeply. I figured he was just making a joke for the female adults around him to hear, because surely his toddler had no clue what he was implying. So I smirked, not amused, and went about reading my magazine.

But there came a Sunday, when I was feeling liberated and decided not to cook an early meal, but to go and get my hair washed and blown out instead and enjoy some me time instead.

I thought to myself. Is this what that man meant? Am I starving my husband and "doing him bad" as the man suggested, by not cooking an afternoon Sunday meal as I usually did? Although he can handle himself in the kitchen...what about men who cannot?

Then it hit me. This is exactly what we do to subconsciously put our children in the victim's chair mentally and emotionally.

By saying he was to learn to be efficient and do things for himself, it was toward the goal of avoiding being "treated badly" by a woman. A woman who didn't choose to do his bidding, lets say if he was in the proverbial doghouse. What that statement said was :

a.) You must protect yourself against the evil woman son
b.) A woman will use any moment available to have an upper arm on you, so you must arm yourself

So not only is he teaching him that the woman is the enemy, but that she is inherently manipulative and that he should be wary of her and defensive against her. That he would acquire skills just so that he wouldn't fall victim to manipulation!
 The child hardly knows the difference between girls and boys yet  and is being indoctrinated!

Many mothers and fathers are guilty of this.

A more empowering statement would have been.

Come on. Let's tie your laces. You must practice so that you can become very good at it. Then every will see how smart and capable you are!!

And if he wanted to use a woman in his parable, he could have stated further: When you grow up a woman is going to admire you because you are so smart and you can get things done so well!"

Look at how that changes the whole mindset.

The woman is now someone who will admire him because he is capable. She is a person that respects a strong capable mate. And, it would also help him to understand that he would be in the position to do things for his mate as well because he has value and efficiency.

And should he ever be in the proverbial doghouse, Hopefully he would see it as an opportunity to write a laundry list of how much he appreciates the things his mate does on a daily basis, when she decides not to do them. I'm reachcing there ..just a tad.

But, seriously, we all know growing up we were told to be smart or tidy or careful, not because of how it would build our character and integrity, but because of how it would stop some evil from befalling us.

Let's be mindful of how we scold and praise our children, so that we don't sit them in the victim's chair and load them with bitter doctrines before they've had a chance to truly live their own lives.