Why don't parents respect their children?
Yes, you brought me into this world. No, it doesn't mean you're entitled to treat me how you please.
This piece is a no brainer, the title pretty much gives it away. It is rant if I'm honest, maybe a think-piece if I'm going to be diplomatic about it. I just want to know, why do parents feel like it is their prerogative to treat their children however they deem fit? I'm talking specifically about those that treat their children with a lack of respect, or even simple human decency for those that have it worse. I am not talking about children in terms of the young, because even parents with 'children' of adult age, fail to treat them correctly.
For me, the main reason is entitlement. So many parents are under the illusion that because they brought their child into the world, that child is indebted to them (ironic because literally nobody asks to be born) and is therefore subjugated to their parental rule for the rest of their lives, right into adulthood and beyond. Maybe I am being slightly dramatic here, but it is a rant after all. Giving birth to your children does NOT mean they owe you anything! Many may disagree with me for that statement, but for me it is as simple as that. As I said, no child asks to be born, let alone do they ask to be treated badly.
So many parents mistreat their children, this is not a secret. Whether it be verbally, physically or emotionally and a lot of them excuse it with 'I'm the parent, you're the child so therefore I am right' or 'I'm the one that created you' and so forth... I hope you get the picture I am trying to create here. This attitude is so harmful, especially if that child does not realise it is wrong, and then they grow up to have their own child(ren) and repeat the same behaviours with them, thus making it a never-ending cycle. I am not saying children know more than their parents, but so many parents are so fixed in their ways and refuse to acknowledge how their behaviours are in fact wrong, and a vast majority of the time- toxic. They refuse to even entertain this idea, because their ignorance will not allow them to.
Another reason I believe parents treat their children however they want to, is because they refuse to recognise their children as individuals. That is, they fail to acknowledge that aside from being their offspring, that child is their own entire person, with their own thoughts, feelings and personalities that have nothing to do with being ___'s son/daughter. I first came across this concept in a book I read by bell hooks entitled 'All About Love', immediately it made sense to me. So many people, a lot of the time unknowingly (this still does not make it okay) do not deem children as worthy of respect because of their child status. This opens up the floor for so many issues, abuse being one of them. If you as the parent do not see your child as worthy of your respect, then what does this mean for other adults your child interacts with? Where do you draw the line?
This reminds me of a saying drilled into me from when I was very young: 'respect your elders'. It was only when I became a teenager, that I realised that the saying is totally flawed. I do not believe in respecting my elders by default. That is not to say I go around disrespecting my elders, but I strongly believe respect is not only earned, but it is reciprocal also. How can any relationship be truly effective if only one party is being treated respectfully? Easy answer- it isn't.
I am still young and not yet a parent, and I am very conscious of this fact when I say the following: parents need to do better by their children. Raising children is by no means an easy feat, I do not believe that for one second. But so many parent-child relationships have been ruined (some to the point of no repair) because of the issues I've mentioned in this post. This isn't some vendetta I have against parents, and I hope my post does not come across this way. I just want them to understand their children are not undeserving of their respect because they are a child, nor is it right to treat them like secondhand citizens for this same fact.
As a young adult, I am floored almost everyday by my own parents' sense of entitlement and lack of respect for my siblings and I, a large result of their ignorance but also their cultural upbringing. A situation I had with my dad sparked feelings of anger, hurt and generally feeling disrespected within me and instead of trying (and failing) to make him understand me, I decided to write this.
- Disclaimer: of course, this post does not apply to all parents and their children, some are fortunate enough to not have to experience this. I didn't think it necessary to do a 'not all' disclaimer, but just in case anybody feels insulted, I wanted to clarify this. -