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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Children Should Not Respect Their Elders

Alice Miller, 87, recently died. I saw her obit in The New York Times and it reminded me of stuff we learned in psych classes. She had Freudian training and her work focused on children. So Alice believed that the family...parents...are the root of all your problems. She said, "All mental illness is caused by childhood trauma and inner pain." Certainly some mental illness is from that...but all?? I fully embrace the neurobiology and environmental combo answer myself. But Ms. Miller gave us important parental tools. She showed us the importance of our actions and our words related to our children's well-being. And now we know...parents aren't always right, parental coercion isn't right, and that not all adults deserve a child's respect. We unfortunately teach our children to blindly obey their elders. It is our fault that our children fall prey to the notion that their teacher's, their friend's parents, their bus driver's, their clergymen are to be listened to and obeyed...but that's not always right, and we see that everyday as more and more cases of child abuse are exposed. Don't teach your children to respect their elders. That level of trust and respect must be earned. Teach your children to be wary, to analyze a situation, and to create their own thoughts about who they will give respect. Empower your children to be independent thinkers, to make informed decisions, and to negotiate life. Thank you Ms. Miller!


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