January 27, 2005

Taking Children Seriously

I have just become aware of this new way of parenting/thinking, called TCS (Taking Children Seriously). I guess I've been too busy inflicting my will upon my children to even know this movement existed.

For those of us who aren't familiar with TCS, it is a philosophy which parents go to great lengths in order not to make a child upset or sad or mad or frustrated. (NORMAL, HUMAN CHILD EMOTIONS)

I believe children should be treated with respect. I am not big on random arbitrary rules. I try to give reasons besides "BECAUSE I SAID SO".
I ask my kids what they think/want about most things, but this is taking it too far.

This philosophy, while seemingly utopian and intriguing, it is flawed in that it has no place in reality. The whole thing is very vague with multi-syllabic words which distract the reader from the specifics of this principle.

Bedtime is a big deal here. TCSers feel a set bedtime is controlling the child, so they let them sleep when they choose. Here is a little blurb from the site that goes into that:

"For Joe, a lot hangs on this question. It always hurts him to have to go to bed when he wants to do something else. He finds it frustrating and psychologically debilitating. He knows that anything he starts in the evening must be finished by bedtime or be arbitrarily interrupted. He might, if he begs, be permitted to finish the chapter of his book (though only if it is short), but certainly not to finish the whole book, as he sometimes wants to. He can't get so absorbed in an exciting book that he would feel driven to read it in one sitting, because unless it can be finished before 9 o'clock, he knows he would be torn away from it. This “horizon effect” often makes him unable even to start things. He knows that no matter how important it is to him to continue what he is engaged in, his parents will, at 9 o'clock, issue the bedtime command and bring the whole soaring edifice crashing to the ground. So almost every evening, as bedtime approaches, Joe feels a sort of grief. Sometimes, if his engagement has been especially deep and rewarding, he cries at the thought of what he is losing.
And all that was before he discovered that there is another family, just like his except that none of that painful bedtime stuff ever happens – and they seem none the worse for it."

My kids know when bedtime is and they are usually reminded of it beforehand. They usually know then, not to start something they won't be able to finish. IF they are particularly engrossed in something, I will let them finish as long as it doesn't take too much of their sleep time, OR they continue the next day. (IMAGINE THAT!) Children need a certain number of hours to be healthy. (DUH) Dawood questioned this and I showed him an age/sleep chart I found online, just so he realizes I'm not pulling this out of you know where. So he knows we have their best interest in mind.

What about waking up for school? TCS is anti-school. (YOU KNOW, WHERE YOU HAVE TO DO STUFF, AND UM, FOLLOW RULES!?) I am a home schooling advocate, but I am not against school. My kids go and they are not traumatized by the structure or "dragonly teachers".

I have read allot on there that says kids are not made to have household chores or responsibilities to help out. What does this teach them!? I believe it to be very important to have kids do things for themselves. (Especially boys, but that’s another discussion for another time.) While I don't think kids should have to do big cleaning jobs or cooking, (unless they are older and want to or something) in MY house, I insist they tidy their rooms, make their beds, and help out with little things when asked to or not. (YES, I AM A TYRANT!)

When one of my kids whines that they don't wanna pick up the their toys, I remind them that I don't ENJOY mopping the floors or washing the dishes,(YES, I'M A HORRIBLE MOM) but in this family we all help out. They CAN understand reason and consequences. I explain that if no one did anything we would be living in filth, starving, and the quicker we get the things we "HAVE" to do, done, the more time we will have to do all the things we enjoy.

Here's an example from my life. Dawood doesn't like to take baths. TCS would say that I have to let him go as long as he wants without one. I am not making him take a bath every day, but I am not going to let him go around dirty and stinky. It's just gross. Am I being "abusive" by insisting that he get his backside in water and his hair washed every few days, even if he pitches a fit? On the contrary, some would say it is abusive from a negligence standpoint NOT to bathe him.

Another argument I read was about making a child leave a store before he/she is ready. The person said it would be the same as if you went to, say, a bookstore with your spouse, and they suddenly said “We HAVE to leave right now because I say!" Obviously, this is an idiotic comparison. A three year old is never going to be ready to leave, and at some point the store is gonna freakin close and the kid will STILL be coerced into leaving. I guess you're supposed to talk the store employees into staying open longer or something.
How do I feel when I have to leave the bookstore early? Oh, maybe up to the level of "slightly agitated", given the fact that my adult experience and maturity tells me that it's not going to disappear in a puff of smoke and I can go back the next day or whenever, which is not how a little kid's mind works.

The idea that a small child shouldn't be forced to take medicine because he didn't like it? The idea that if your kid REALLY REALLY REALLY wants to try to fly off the roof and you can't convince him otherwise, you should make it as safe as possible and let him? You can't be a dictator and have a bunch of rules for every little aspect of life either. Being overly controlling is just as crazy as thinking that any control is abusive

There IS a middle ground. Example, if it's a bit cold outside and my son doesn't want to put on a jacket I probably wouldn't force him to. If he wants to be cold, be cold. I'd keep a jacket handy and eventually he'll tell me I was right it's cold and put it on. I think he learns more from the experience that way than just being forced to wear a jacket. I don't let him make decisions that will affect his safety or health. I'm the adult. I have a lifetime of experience. I do know better. As he grows and gains experience I'll slowly hand over the control of certain issues to him, but he has to earn it.

TCS also admonishes baby tub pictures as a violation of an infants rights etc. I agree with this. I think infants and children are just as deserving of privacy as adults. I have taken tub picks, but always from the waste up or a sufficient amount a bubbles (or tub toys) in strategic locations to be discreet. Taking photos of babies and children showing genitals or bottoms isn't "cute", it's uncalled for, besides the fact that it is Islamic wrong.

Children don't have the life experience adults have; the knowledge that enables us to make good decisions. That's why we are here. To guide and teach them, to take care of them and look out for them.

It seems that most TCSers see "mainstream" parenting as a dictatorship and praise themselves for being different, but, they don't elaborate on how they deal with things situationally. I think even children who are loved and taken care of will turn out very selfish under TCS. I usually try to be respectful of other people's parenting choices, but this is illogical and just plain asinine.

What are your thoughts on TCS?


  1. Anonymous12:06 PM

    I agree... All children need limits...infact they seek them in parents who seem to not care, when they really do...setting limits are a sign that the parent really does care...Its one thing to respect your kids, Im all for that, but its another thing to let them do whatever strikes their fanccy at any given moment...THats not real life...We're not doing them any favors by letting them do whatever, its quite the opposite, but I do believe yes you have to gradually give up the control to some stuff as they get older. I am finding that sometimes they wont do something just because "the parent" is the one suggesting it, or making them do it, but if a friend thinks its cool, then its cool....Welcome to the preteen years!!! God save us all... For those of you who have not gotten there yet, count your blessings and REALLy appreciate your kids now and build relationships with them...nows your real chance, For those of you who have seen this change...you know what i mean, I'd love your input.
    Thanks for your insights mona, YOu know this is me, eman..

  2. I shook my head in confused fury when I read this propostrous pile of rubbish. Mona was quite nice saying that these methods were impractical. This is down right lunacy. Let’s just imagine if our parents used this method of up brining when we were little squirts. Yes, I know it’s hard to fathom but try really hard. We would run amuck! No consciences means no fear. No fear of upsetting your parents. No fear of being punished for wrong actions. No fear of authority (which will be even more complex once you they reach the level of understanding there deen and duties to their creator). NO WAY! I believe that children should be treated as individuals in there own personalities but they don’t know what’s best for them yet. That’s why it’s a parent’s job to steer them in the right direction even if the direction is not what the feel like at that moment. Disciple and punishment is a part of raising a child, CASE CLOSED. It’s not the core of the up bringing for that is love and compassion but at the end of the day your home must have order or you will go insane. That’s just my take on it.

  3. TCS: ridiculous..
    since when is a child an adult?
    should we let children drive our big 4WD just because he wants to?
    i think not.


Thanks for commenting!