When my wife Ceci and I have a blessed moment by our lonesome, besides walk and talk, or sit on a park bench and revel in one another’s company (we tend not to go to movies, because that’s not directly being present to one another), we like to go to a cafe and have a Socrates Cafe together. As close as we are, these one-on-one confabs never fail to bond us even more.
In this latest give and take, Ceci and I explore how tolerant we parents should be towards our kids — but we also like at what the world might and would look like if kids also had a say in how tolerant they can or should be towards us? What if, for instance, a kid could impose the ‘time out’ rule when she felt her parent was acting out of line? Seems perfectly reasonable to me that they should be able to invoke such authority, if a parent can.
This didn’t make it into her wonderful article, but when a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer gently took me to task about my view that kids can be a font of wisdom and succor in the growth and development of adults, mentioning how a child, perhaps even her child, can sometimes go just too far in his/her behavior, to the point where you just have to lay down the law. And I said something to this effect: ‘Well, what about you? What about you when you go too far with your own behavior in your child’s eyes?’
This gave her pause, as it still does me. It’s so easy for a parent to impose the ol’ 1, 2 3′ counting method or a timeout, or something even more intimidating, to get a kid to tone it down when his child isn’t towing the line — or what the parent sees as towing the line — but shouldn’t a child be able to do the same? Might parents t be more on their p’s and q’s towards my nearest and dearest, especially my little ones, when I’m at my most grumpy and sleep deprived?
If we considered this, might we go a next step and do away with such strictures, and instead come up with ways to help our youngest brethren calm down or at times comport themselves within certain parameters not because of any fear factor, but because it’s been effectively conveyed that we’re only looking out for their own well-being? Listen in to the video and see what you think of some of the ways Ceci and I have come up with, based on a more philosophical approach to setting limits.
There is also this: when it comes to teaching tolerance, teaching kids in particular to be tolerant, the usual approach is the one-way-street method. And it’s usually directed in an outward way, towards teaching kids to be tolerant towards others in the community and world at large who see and act differently than they and their family do.
But what if this approach was also family-centered and -directed, and approaches to being tolerant were of a more egalitarian kind among family members? And how might this have a beneficial impact when it comes to practicing tolerance towards others outside our orbit — especially if kids were given an equal role in modeling this quality, which comes far more naturally to them than it does adults?
Even in this modern world, kids all too often have to tolerate whatever dictums and punishments come their way by their parents’ hands — even that barbaric form of spanking, which is outlawed in so many countries, but not in the U.S. Can’t we older folks at the very least subject ourselves to their much more creative and far more gentle approaches to curbing our own unruly behaviors?