Why It’s Hard To Trust Children

Check out Teresa Graham Brett’s Parent Liberation Program, an online, self-paced study based on her Parenting for Social Change book, exclusively here on Kindred.

Did that headline surprise you?
It surprised me too, when I realized it was something I believed.

And let me tell you now –
this article is actually not about children. Or how they behave. Or their development.

It IS about you and me. As parents.

And what we bring to the relationship with children.

Hang with me, I promise it’s worth it.

Years ago, when I worked in academia as a social justice advocate, I imagined that when I became be a parent – the values of social justice would inherently be part of my family, and I’d be the most egalitarian mother out there.

Then . . . the unconscious became conscious.

That’s to say, two incredible sons came into my life, and I realized my framework around parenting needed some dismantling.

Tell me if you can relate to this.
As I grew up, I experienced the world in a variety of ways. From those experiences, I created a frame of reference about things operate.

When I grew up as a child, my voice and how I felt didn’t matter as much as what the adults in my life.

I was “shhh”ed or told to stop crying or that things weren’t a big deal. I wasn’t given actual choices about my life. I was praised for doing things that paralleled adult behavior (sitting still at the dinner table, being quiet, getting all As, etc.).I was also told, “Just wait until you’re older.”

These experiences (along with many, many others) created my framework for beliefs around parents and children.

These experiences taught me that, as a child, I was less than.

But you know what happened? I grew up.
I got older, I became an adult!

And . . . once I arrived as an adult, my belief framework told me that I had the right to view and treat children as I had been viewed and treated. I finally made it to the top, I was no longer less than, and now I could execute some control.

You see, it’s a perpetuating cycle.

So it’s not that I don’t trust children.
It’s that for the longest time, my framework didn’t even allow that as a thought.

Until we begin to bring to consciousness our distrust of children and our belief of adult vs. child – our relationships will stagnate. And we will not create a greater equality, greater respect, greater possibilities.

When we begin to truly trust children, we regain the trust that we lost in ourselves as young people.

The transformation of our inner selves begins the broader transformation of the world.

Trust would be the path to freedom for children, adults, and our world.

Trusting children gives them space to shine bright.

And, it will result in adults finding that light again deep within their souls.

Again, this is a process. It’s one I’ve been working on for years and continue to explore. I encourage you to go at your own pace, to be kind with yourself, and to trust yourself. In doing so, you are modeling a radically authentic way to be with young people, and you are changing our world.In awe of you and your journey,

P.S. I know that was a lot of content, so please be gentle with yourself. And if you’re wanting more support, take a moment to check out these four videos I created that give actual techniques to parenting for social change.

Four Techniques to Parent from Your Values

Addressing Insecurity & Worry

Shift the “Parent” Stereotype

Believe in Your Own Power

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