How do you raise a child?
My answer: you don’t.
Have a look at how a child learns to crawl, stand and walk. The child does that on its own. The adult might support with various devices like walkers and strollers, or through encouragingly inviting the child to stumble into their embrace, but it is the child alone that instinctively on a visceral level figures out how to manage its muscles and bones to eventually raise itself from the ground and onto two feet.
It is not like the child has to go through tedious ‘crawling training’ where parents use various techniques to coax the child into crawling or force the child to stand in the crawling position until it starts crawling on its own. Sounds absurd, abusive even? Well, it is a technique many parents use for what is known as ‘potty training’. Learning how to read and write is another example where we impose an artificial model onto the child and expect certain results on a scheduled basis according to the child’s age.
So why is that we trust the child to raise itself up from the ground without having to go through classes and training sessions while there is so much more we would never trust in the hands of the child to learn on their own?
As adults we believe that we have, not only a responsibility but also a prerogative when it comes to raising a child. We think that we know what is best, and that we are the best to show our children how to best live in the world.
After all, we are the ones who bring the child off of the ground, or at least so we think; we see ourselves as the gatekeepers of human evolution, who raises the child from the hunched and primitive ape stage into the upright homo sapiens creature that we proudly identify ourselves as today.
There is just one problem:
As adults we know virtually nothing about the world or how to effectively live in it. We can barely maintain personal relationships due to lack of effective communication skills and understanding of our own psyches. Professionally most of us walk around like sheep desperately awaiting the next paycheck while complaining that we do not have time to work on the things we really care about. A lot of us are either passive aggressive or just straight up aggressive our we simply don’t really care about anything as we go about our daily lives in a haze of entertainment and stimulation.
Many adults claim to have values, but very few adults actually live or stand by their values. Many adults also talk a lot to children about values like friendship and sharing but seldom stand as a living example of what it means to live those values. Then there are the insecurities, the neuroses, and the addictions that we as adults drag around, along with our mommy issues and sexual frustrations.
If you have a look at the state the world is currently in, we have as adults not done a particular good job at taking care of it all. We start wars for no reason, we pollute the oceans and then we try to fix it with our mock political systems that everyone knows are nothing but puppet shows to keep the masses contained. And yet, when it comes to children, we see ourselves as these omnipotent figures who are pr. definition always right.
Let’s be honest: Adults are in no way capable or qualified of raising children or educating them on how to be in the world. We are, in fact, the worst possible example any new members of the human race could be given to model themselves after.
This is not to say that all of us would make horrible parents or that we should not have children, but that we ought to view ourselves with more humble eyes than most of us currently do when it comes to our relationship with children, and to not assume that we do or that we should know everything about the world and that when we share/show something to a child, that it is automatically right or true.
In fact, I am sure that if we as adults took an approach to child-rearing as it were, where we saw ourselves as equally learning from the child as they learn from us, that everyone would benefit.
See, the difference between children and us adults is that they have not (yet) as we have, been brought up by adults exhibiting all the same flaws and dysfunctional patterns that we are now exhibiting due to our upbringing.
That means that we from the get-go have the opportunity to do things differently with them, to break the cycles of dysfunction and stupidity that we ourselves were recycled into. One way of doing that is by not enforcing our ideas and beliefs on the child, but to see the moment a child comes into our lives as an opportunity for a fresh start where we together with the child can learn how to best live in the world, both for ourselves and for everyone around us.
So when a child comes into our lives, whether through our own loins or through the process of education in one way or another or in some other way, we can actively change our approach from by default seeing ourselves as the ones who has to raise the child, to seeing the relationship with the child as one where both raise themselves together in mutual support and joy of learning.
There are many things a child can learn from adults around it, but there are equally as many things we as adults can learn from children, and so if we dared to, we could utilize the opportunity of being in a learning process with a child to also re-educate ourselves to get to know the world again, this time with more awareness of our past mistakes and thus with an ability to direct ourselves more clearly, while at the same time see the world through the eyes of the child and from there discover a new way of living on earth because we are on one hand living it for the first time and on the other are bringing wisdom and experience into the process.
Children do not need us to raise them. They are perfectly capable of raising themselves. What they do need is our steady support and assistance and that we raise ourselves to live our full potential so that we may stand as an example to them of what is possible when it comes to being a human being in this world.