What is "adultism," you ask?
It's "I know what's best for my child," without taking the child's unique needs into account.
It's when adults say, "I know my child best and he is a boy" when the child says she is a girl.
It's when adults say, "I know what's best--and no vaccinations are the best," when their child suffers every illness under the sun because of the lack of vaccination.
It's when the kids' accomplishments reflect glory back to the parents, instead of being proud of the child for his/her own accomplishments. Or vice versa, with shame and failure.
Adultism is conditional love.
It's when parents expect children to grow up and be a certain way, without actually listening to them. Or, gasp! treating them like they are their own unique human being.
Just because we have been tasked to feed, clothe, and love them does not give us the permission to run roughshod over them. Or use our responsibility of caring for them as a guilt trip into manipulating them into doing or being what we want them to be. "I bought you so many expensive nice clothes! Who nearly died of pneumonia to buy you new hearing aids? If you don't appreciate everything I've done for you, you can go live on the streets. My way or the highway."
That's manipulation. Coercion. Conditional love. There's something brilliant written about respecting children as the tiny humans that they are, called the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The United States helped to develop it. We signed it. But certain vocal minorities kept us from being able to ratify it. A subset of the population that believe that parental rights are of the utmost importance--namely, very conservative homeschoolers and HSLDA. The problem is that it is this subset of homsechooling (and any homeschooling done to make the parents look good) that particularly needs help protecting children. Just read the stories on Homeschoolers Anonymous. So many examples of conditional love. Of "Parents Know Best." Of adultism. Of narcissism.
(Before you bash me, please note I said "subset." I didn't say all homeschooling is at fault. Just a subset of it. Although if you'd like to share this widely and bring more readers to my blog to vent angrily in the comments, I'm happy to accept the ad revenue. Thank you!)
What is narcissism? More specifically, what is a narcissistic parent? I like these two articles from Psychology Today and the Washington Post. Once you read those two articles, it's easy to see the similarities between narcissistic parenting and adultism. I like these quotes the best from Psychology Today:
One of the most common manifestations of a narcissistic father or mother is the inability to be mindful of the child’s own thoughts and feelings, and validate them as real and important.
Only what the parent thinks and feels matters...she or he may become extremely jealous at any signs of the child’s growing maturity and independence. Any perceived act of individuation and separation...are interpreted negatively and personally
Instead of raising a child whose own thoughts, emotions, and goals are nurtured and valued, the offspring becomes a mere extension of the parent’s personal wishes, with the child’s individuality diminished.
That is adultism, and narcissism, in a nutshell.
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