To grow up, you must first be a child.- me
I understand that this is a place where different cultures have very different ideas. My Kurdish friend has told me that at the age of ten a child is considered an adult. This does help explain how at thirteen he was married to his eleven year-old cousin. I have also heard that in Japan a child is protected by the gods until they are seven. I would like to believe that this deters abuse of the very young. Lastly it is my understanding that those who are Jewish become adults at the age of thirteen. Son’s have a Bar Mitsvah and daughter’s a Bat Mitsvah to celebrate their coming of age. But I can not judge is this good or bad compared with my own culture without running straight into the question, what does it mean to be grown-up?
Again and my ex-husband would make fun of me, asking “Are you the parent or the child?” Each time it highlighted the difference between the two of us, what we considered to be adult behavior. He seemed to think that being an adult meant that you could do whatever you wanted. Go out to bars, race cars, drink, smoke, tell children what to do and punish them however you liked if you felt like it. I saw being an adult as a responsibility. It meant being careful of what you said and did, thinking about others , your family and community first and yourself second. To me, childhood was the time to make mistakes and trust that your family would teach you gently how to fix your mistakes. Being a parent, has always meant first, to love and protect, second to teach and test. This is how I always believed that the good parent taught their child how to be a grown-up. Hitting a child made no sense, all it can teach is to solve problems with violence instead of intelligence.
Just this morning, I was saddened watching a show where a father spoke of how he chose to teach his daughter not to lie by burning her with a hot iron on the foot. She had been only seven and still had the mark as an adult. I have known many six, seven and eight year old who “told tales” as I prefer to put it and in studying psychology it is generally accepted that young children don’t lie on purpose, rather they don’t always know what is real and what isn’t. A week ago on the bus, a little girl accused her mother of hitting her just after the bus made a sharp turn and the girl had fallen into her mother’s arm. Sitting across from them I could easily see how the child had misinterpreted the event. She suddenly found her mother’s arm pressed against her for no reason, that she knew of , (at three, the laws of physics and momentum were beyond her comprehension.) So she assumed the cause to be something she was familiar with, being hit. If only learning the different levels of children’s psychological development was more widely taught, perhaps fewer parents would feel the need to use force to teach their children.
I have never met a child who did not want to learn, only children overwhelmed by having to learn what they were not ready for or bored when they weren’t able to explore the questions that most intrigued them.
“This is how we learn,” is my favorite saying for when things go wrong. To me being a grown-up means accepting problems not as somebody else’s fault but as a challenge. Problem’s are my chance to test myself and see just how grown-up I can be. They are my chance to find solutions and lessons to learn from. When I tell my kids I don’t know something or that I made a mistake, I am teaching them the importance of honesty and integrity. No rod can do that!
I think that is the most important lesson for a child to learn so they will be ready to grow up. They must learn that nobody knows everything and we all make mistakes no matter our age. In my book, those who admit to the truth and try to fix their mistakes will always be the real grown-ups and those who lie and blame others, the real children.