The belief that children must be punished to learn better behaviors is illogical. Children learn to roll, crawl, walk, talk, read, and other complex behaviors without a need for punishment. Why, then, wouldn’t the same gentle guidance, support, and awareness of developmental capabilities that parents employ to help their little ones learn those complex skills also work to help them learn to pet the cat gently and draw on paper instead of walls?
― L.R. Knost, Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages
Children have a lesson adults should learn, to not be ashamed of failing, but to get up and try again. Most of us adults are so afraid, so cautious, so ‘safe,’ and therefore so shrinking and rigid and afraid that it is why so many humans fail. Most middle-aged adults have resigned themselves to failure.
The wave of punitiveness that washed over the United States with the rise of the drug war and the get tough movement really flooded our schools. Schools, caught up in this maelstrom, began viewing children as criminals or suspects, rather than as young people with an enormous amount of potential struggling in their own ways and their own difficult context to make it and hopefully thrive. We began viewing the youth in schools as potential violators rather than as children needing our guidance.
The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it: elementary kindness. Enough to eat, enough to go around. The possibility that kids might one day grow up to be neither the destroyers nor the destroyed. That’s about it. Right now I’m living in that hope, running down its hallway and touching the walls on both sides.
―Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams
Every human relationship begins with a coincidence. Even the most fundamental relationship – that of parent and child – begins entirely with a coincidence. The child is produced by whatever serendipity brought its parents together, and the fact that the child was born to its particular parents instead of to another couple is pure happenstance. Thus, children have no choice over the relationship that is most important to their existence.
By contrast, friends and lovers choose each other, but even these choices are reactions to whatever random coincidence made the resulting relationship possible.
―Zack Love, Sex in the Title: A Comedy about Dating, Sex, and Romance in NYC
I am convinced that most people do not grow up… We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies, and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are innocent and shy as magnolias.
Now we, if not in the spirit, have been caught up to see our earth, our mother, Gaia Mater, set like a jewel in space. We have no excuse now for supposing her riches inexhaustible nor the area we have to live on limitless because unbounded. We are the children of that great blue white jewel. Through our mother we are part of the solar system and part through that of the whole universe. In the blazing poetry of the fact we are children of the stars.
Gustav Doré, Illustration for Charles Perrault’s Petit Chaperon Rouge, 1867
Fear isn’t so difficult to understand. After all, weren’t we all frightened as children? Nothing has changed since Little Red Riding Hood faced the big bad wolf. What frightens us today is exactly the same sort of thing that frightened us yesterday. It’s just a different wolf.