Monday, February 15, 2010

At what age?

As I mentioned in my last post, it has been a wild few days. The exhaustion of the weekend is hitting full force today, I feel like I have so much I want to blog about and yet I am too tired or mumbly-mouthed to do so!

Today we had our 4H Cooking Project Group. The kids were divided into equal groups, each group was responsible for a portion of a whole meal, then we all ate together. The kids were responsible for coming up with the recipe and figuring out who would bring what as well as cooking the dish at our meeting. The parents sat and talked, wide ranging topics as always, an hour and half later we all had lunch.

Evie and I co-run this project group. I usually deal with the admin. and sometimes do a presentation. Evie does the majority of the presentations and came up with all the ideas for our meetings. This month I was very explicit in saying that this was do be undertaken by the 4Hers, not the parents. It was beautiful to listen to!

This leads me to think about a question posed by a friend on Facebook yesterday: "How do YOU foster a sense of autonomy and self-confidence in your children, no matter what their age?" I was interested in others' answers and posted myself, saying, "Assume competence. Wait to be asked for help."

This leads me to recall a few annoying moments at the Unschooling Conf. this weekend when people (not too many, I'll get back to this) made comments to Evie along the lines of "Well aren't you a good helper!" Because of her age, her contribution was automatically assumed to be in a "helper" capacity as opposed to an equal participant or even a leader. She and my mom were the main food makers, servers, kitchen everything-ers. Both Evie and my mom got lots (the majority) of people saying heartfelt "thank yous."

This life WE (the Lynches) lead allows full life participation from all family members regardless of age. Our society has created institutional constructs that inhibit confidence, growth, opportunity and full-fledged participation from people under age 18. At what age are we fully human? Shouldn't it be from day 1?

Discuss amongst yourselves.


Frank said...

Well said!

Sunflower Hill Farm said...

This topic comes up in my house A LOT. My boys (the bigger ones) feel so insulted most of the time. They are treated like 2nd class citizens when they are having a computer programming class with other friends and the librarian ASSUMES they are up to something. They get really frustrated with the constraints of their age. You are right! Human from day 1!!! Preach it, girl!

jtikkun said...

Wow. Well said! What power to those words. Thank you!

Tracy said...

"Assume competence. Wait to be asked for help." Words to live by.

My daughter and I were just discussing this very topic. Why aren't the other kids offended when adults talk to them that way, she asked. And we can only assume it is because they are accustomed to being treated as something less. Incapable people who require someone else to tell them what to do and how to do it.