To preface: all thoughts in this post have been inspired by Kristin Mariella.
There’s an interesting theory flying around these days. It’s the idea that humanity, as a whole, is evolving right before our eyes. We’re seeing a shift in our understanding and self-awareness like never before. We have knowledge beyond any other generation. We have our own insights and practices, along with many years of documented experience to look back on and learn from.
We’re at a place now where we’re all connected and we have the time to be aware of others around us in an open-minded, observatory fashion. We can see the cause and affect of our own actions more clearly than ever and it’s going to change the way we view children and parenting forever.
So, we are human. We are ever evolving, ever growing beings. We started as animals and then became civilized humans. We’ve molded the world to meet our needs in order to live as comfortably and stress free as possible. We’ve made it to where most all us have our basic needs - food, shelter, health-care, etc. - met with ease. We mastered the art of maintaining our sustenance which gave us time to learn to build shelters that can protect us from most anything. With consistent sustenance and trusted shelter, we were able to create industry which brought us even more sustenance and shelter and then, luxuries like trains, cars, fashionable clothing, etc. We’ve molded our species to have some of the easiest lives in history to where our only true threat is the occasional natural occurrence (like tornados or hurricanes) and other humans who have not evolved enough to use brains over brawn. Because of all this, we have the time, freedom, and resources to learn about ourselves and the world around us.
I understand this may seem like a privileged view of the world, but my point is, those of us living in civilized societies have our basic needs met most of the time. This gives us more time to dig into the deeper areas of how we humans and the world around us work. We, as a species, have time to fly into space and look at people chopping up soap on instagram which, in turn, means we parents have time to learn about children and how they develop.
We have time to pick up a book and figure out when children develop certain abilities (like impulse control) in order to make sure our expectations are realistic . We have time to learn what emotions mean and where they come from in order to allow our children to have them without triggering our own. Most importantly, we are evolved enough to understand that our personal emotions are based on our instincts. They are the impulsive part of our brain that help keep us safe from danger . Unfortunately, they are also the impulsive part of our brain that tells us our children’s natural behavior is a threat and should be corrected at all costs, including the cost of our children’s potential and happiness.
This is what a lot of people like to call, “default parenting.” It takes no thought. You see your child doing something that triggers your brain’s reactors and you yell at them or hit them. You carry out an extreme consequence to do anything you can do to remove this “threat.” The problem with this is, in the reasonable, intelligent part of our brain, we understand children are not truly a threat. They are smaller and slower and in times of true danger, we are capable of being quick enough, aware enough, and strong enough to prevent that danger without igniting fear within our children. We are capable of being more evolved than our uneducated instincts, but it takes knowledge and practice to get there.
While our brains have not developed past the point of reaction, our society has evolved faster than our instincts. That gives us a choice to create an evolution within ourselves. To rise above our instincts and be the evolved humans our society allows for. Humans that don’t need to be afraid of their surroundings to the point of lashing out at the innocent beings around us. It takes practice. It takes rewiring your instincts and allowing yourself to think before reacting. To let yourself believe that inflicting fear and bad feelings on another human is not the only way to teach them. It takes effort and I’d hope we’re all willing to put in a little effort for the sake of our children, and ultimately, the sake of humanity itself.
Going back to theories: With all of this knowledge of evolution and the current state of society, there are many people who have had the time and resources to study children and their development. They study their emotions and reactions. How they learn, how they respond, and how many different ways a child may do each of those things. These people have come to the conclusion that children don’t truly need discipline. They don’t need us to teach them proper behavior. They simply need a good role model and an environment created to facilitate growth.
Because of this, it is believed that, not only are there truly no bad kids, but that every child is born perfect. Not perfect in the sense of, “doing no wrong,” but perfect in that they are born with all the tools they need to learn and function within society. Essentially, they are born ready to become the most perfect version of themselves without any of our help. In fact, when you see a child fall into a pattern of bad behavior, it is most likely because of an adult getting in the way of their process. One that they need to go through in order to fully develop to their full potential.
In short, children with bad behavior are not bad children, they are either in a stage of development that requires said behavior to move forward OR they simply have inadequate leaders.
To add to that, there are also behaviors that we perceive as bad because of our uneducated instincts and/or because we were taught as children that these natural developments within ourselves are bad. Children who appear bad are falling victim to uneducated, instinctual, default parents who let their ignorance propel these children into becoming bad adults. They have leaders who are unwilling to practice what they preach, unwilling to be better than the generation before them, and unwilling to evolve beyond their “default” primitive state.
This post is not to dive into the details of childhood development and proper parenting methods. I, myself, am still in the early stages of learning truly what all of this means. My goal with all of this is to spread the word that we can be better. We can learn and grow to become the parents that the children of the world, in every stage of evolution, have always needed their parents to be.
Throughout our own evolution, we’ve learned that people who look different are not always a threat. We’ve learned that people who are weak are not invaluable. We’ve fought so hard to give everyone rights through encouraging education on communities who have previously been discriminated against. I’m hoping that with the knowledge we can access in this stage of evolution, we can learn to trust that children are intelligent and equal. That they are deserving of respect. Respect that is necessary for them to grow into the perfect humans they are supposed to become.
Similar to the monumental moments where we fought for the rights of women, minorities, and LGBT communities, I believe this is a moment in history where we will see a rise in the rights of children. We will see a movement of better parenting and education practices that will end the days of physical and verbal abuse on any scale. A movement that will give every child the environment necessary to grow to their full potential.