The following excerpt is taken from "Notes On An Unhurried Journey" by John A. Taylor.
When we adults think of children, there is a simple truth which we ignore: childhood is not preparation for life, childhood is life. A child isn't getting ready to live - a child is living.
The child is constantly confronted with the nagging question, "What are you going to be?" Courageous would be the youngster who, looking the adult squarely in the face, would say, "I'm not going to be anything; I already am." We adults would be shocked by such an insolent remark for we have forgotten, if indeed we ever knew, that a child is an active participating and contributing member of society from the time he is born. Childhood isn't a time when he is molded into a human who will then live life; he is a human who is living life. No child will miss the zest and joy of living unless these are denied him by adults who have convinced themselves that childhood is a period of preparation.
How much heartache we would save ourselves if we would recognize the child as a partner with adults in the process of living, rather than always viewing him as an apprentice. How much we would teach each other...adults with the experience and children with the freshness. How full both our lives could be. A little child may not lead us, but at least we ought to discuss the trip with him for, after all, life is his and her journey, too.
* Thanks to my friend Melinda for sharing this on Facebook.
Yes, this! All of this!! Lovely, thought-provoking post! (And I'm snagging that quote for my Facebook status!)
love the thoughtfulness of this post. i often get stuck thinking that I'm preparing my kids for life, I need to look at it more this way. They really are living life.
very interesting! I like the take of children being someone and not becoming a somebody!
The saying, "Children should be seen and not heard" is so silly to me. Kids are amazing to me. They are imaginative, bold, full of adventure, totally creative, thoughtful, non-judgemental...the list goes on. I strongly believe that our kids and other kids that I interact with at work, are changing the world today, by leading by THEIR example. Some of our best ideas as a family has come from our kiddos. We always include Kenzie and Garrett on plans for the day, vacations, meals, helping others and just regular conversations. To be honest, there are many times I would rather talk to a child than an adult!
*Love this post, Steph!
Your appreciation of children as contributing members of society is so evident, Ashley. You are truly a gem - a light in the darkness.
Tonight over dinner, I was thinking to myself, "Ashley is EXACTLY the kind of person who would win a 'Spirit of Philanthropy' award." (It's true).
Talk to you soon!
My eyes just teared up! Stephanie, thank you so much for such an incredible compliment. I feel so honored that you (a person that inspires me every day) would think that of me!
so beautiful and so true
When I think about childhood in terms like these I see again the distinct contrast I felt between certain relatives as I was growing up. I didn't understand it at the time, but I knew that I was more valuable as a person to a certain set of the family - where children were included in conversations, at the dinner table, on outings - not only were we included but we were encouraged to actively participate in life as it was being lived by the family that day. When we were with the other set of relatives we were sent to another room to play, set at a table apart from the adults, shushed when we tried to join in a conversation - definitely a "children are to be seen and not heard" mindset. You know whose house we wanted to go to, and who we are closer to now as adults.
I'm not saying that children have to be included in absolutely everything - sometimes there wasn't room at the big table for all of us so a group of the kids would eat at the table in the kitchen instead, sometimes the adults did go out on their own and would leave us with a sitter or the adults who weren't interested in the outing - but the attitude was different. In one home we felt welcome, like we were a part of the family, like we mattered now. We were asked about what we were doing, what we were interested in, our hobbies and curiosities were encouraged. In the other home we knew that those relatives were happy to see us - they would hug us and give us gifts, but they only wanted to talk about what we wanted to be - not who we were. If we added something to a conversation it was dismissed as not having value because it came from someone young and inexperienced. Rather than having our ideas considered, challenged and developed we had them dismissed.
Whatever your overall attitude towards children is comes out in your dealings with them - when you value a child as a right here, right now, important person that child knows it and you interact with them like they matter now. If your attitude towards children is that they are simply little people to be trained for adulthood who won't have much contributing value until they get older that too comes out in how you interact with them.
OK... this is turning into a blog post instead of a comment and I haven't had my coffee yet this morning so my ideas aren't formulating into proper concepts and sentences so I'll quit now! :)
I love this beautiful post. I have NO doubt that children (of course to include my lovelies;) are absolutely complete people. They are spectacular in perspective, insight, & purity of person. I am frequently reminded of their courage in the face of daunting challenges. I think I will be checking out this book!
Stephanie, I've been thinking about this very thing lately, especially as my son entered high school this year and there is so much talk about preparing for college, for tests, for AP classes... Everything seems to be in preparation for the next step, and I got to thinking "at what point does TODAY count?" I think we do need to find that balance, and it needs to be something we keep in mind from the time our kids are very young. Life counts now, as well as in the future. I'm going to make more of an effort to appreciate exactly where my 14-year-old son is on his journey. Thanks.
OK, I love your way of thinking- empowering your children and enjoying them along the way- beautiful, great post.