Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Adults Standing on the Shoulders of Children

Has anyone else noticed that infants and children are held to stricter standards than the average adult?

I was thinking about this and realized it applies to many parenting practices across the board. For the sake of brevity, I've written about a few that are frequently discussed on the page.

For example, what is one of the BIG reasons people push for newborn circumcision? Because it would be unpleasant and painful for a full grown, sturdy man. Something a grown man is scared of and unable to tolerate, we force onto newborns!

Or how about, if you smacked anyone else in our society from any walk of life, even a convicted felon in jail, you'd be prosecuted for assault and labeled violent. But smacking your child is accepted as long as you are teaching your child a lesson. You just can't teach anyone else a lesson with smacking. So children, being young and innocent, make the most justifiable mistakes compared to what adults do (lying, stealing, cheating on an adult level), but only children get the most physical punishment.

And then I think about how, if I was crying, scared and alone in my bed, I would want my partner to come into the room and comfort me or check on me. If he didn't, I'd feel abandoned. If I talked about the incident with other friends, they'd all condemn him as being neglectful and coldhearted. "What if you were having a bad dream?" "What if you had fallen and needed help?" Yet we are expected to put our babies into their rooms, turn out the lights and ignore them until morning. To teach them a lesson we wouldn't accept from our partners.

Why is it that we hold our children to stricter expectations than ourselves as adults? Why do we treat adults, who are able to control their impulses and emotions, better than we treat children, who are still cognitively and physically developing?

Why is it that when an adult spills a glass, everyone laughs, says it's okay and helps clean it up? But then when a child spills a glass, he's ridiculed, shamed, yelled at or spanked and told to, "clean up your own mess?"

It seems the strongest, most capable, wiser humans are deserving of the harsher, more painful punishments and lessons. And the smaller, weaker and newer humans deserve the tender, protective, forgiving behaviors. Yet our society is the complete opposite when it comes to parenting expectations.


  1. Hi guggie, I have often said the only war going on within our country is a war on children/babies. Its not on women, or illegals, or minorities. I always get flack for feeling this way. But it sounds like im not alone :)

  2. Great post! Mike and I made the decision to keep Sam intact. Mike hadn't ever thought about it before because, in his words, it's just what people do. But, after talking to him about it, he came to the conclusion that it is purely cosmetic, and we would never want to put our son through that! I am so glad we made that decision!