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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bill of Rights for Children

Hat Tip: A commentor on Rabbi Horowitz's site posted something called the John Rosemond's Bill of Rights for children. It rings true to me and really hits home, especially in light of my last batch of posts. Read on and leave your own comments. I love this. Perhaps I will post it up on our refrigerator!

Because it is the most character-building, two-letter word in the English language, children have the right to hear their parents say "NO" at least three times a day.

Children have the right to find out early in their lives that their parents don't exist to make them happy, but to offer them the opportunity to learn the skills they - children - will need to eventually make themselves happy.

Children have a right to scream all they want over the decisions their parents make, albeit their parents have the right to confine said screaming to certain areas of their homes.

Children have the right to find out early that their parents care deeply for them, but don't give a hoot what their children think about them at any given moment in time.

Because it is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, children have the right to hear their parents say "Because I said so" on a regular and frequent basis.

Because it is the most character-building activity a child can engage in, children have the right to share significantly in the doing of household chores.

Every child has the right to discover early in life that he isn't the center of the universe (or his family or his parents' lives), that he isn't a big fish in a small pond, that he isn't the Second Coming, and that he's not ever - in the total scheme of things - very important at all, no one is, so as to prevent him from becoming an insufferable brat.

Children have the right to learn to be grateful for what they receive; therefore, they have the right to receive all of what they truly need and very little of what they simply want.

Children have the right to learn early in their lives that obedience to legitimate authority is not optional, that there are consequences for disobedience, and that said consequences are memorable and, therefore, persuasive.

Every child has the right to parents who love him/her enough to make sure he/she enjoys all of the above rights.


Leora said...

Children not only "have the right to" hear NO but they need to hear no. If they hear yes all the time, they are going to fall flat on their faces as soon as they encounter the rest of the world.

I guess the "have a right to" is put in their to make it more palatable or textually interesting (like a bill of rights). It really, in my opinion, children NEED to hear there are consequences to their actions.

Finally, as a parent, I find it hard to say 'no'. "Just say no", I repeat in my head. So maybe this is list for parents in aiding their guidance of their children.

Anonymous said...

Children also have the right to feel that they are important to their parents, that their parents are concerned about them, their wishes and their feelings. They have the right to the sense of security and self-confidence that comes from knowing how highly their parents regard them and want to be kind and loving to them.

I'm not disagreeing with the list in this post, but I think there's another side of the coin that must not be forgotten.

G said...

Or, as my father is want to say...You, my dear child, have no rights.

tnspr569 said...

Hmm...that bill of rights looks very familiar :)

rachel said...

love it, simply love it.
SL, I just finished reading the book NO that you recommended earlier. It was fantastic. It gave me a huge boost to continue parenting againg the modern norm. And I also recommeded it to someone else who will recommend it. Maybe we'll make a difference.

Anon 10:40. If you are talking about abused kids, you are right. But the problem is simply an absolute excess of yes, of "I am entitled to the world" ans "I'm the king of the universe" that dominates your society. Saying NO and having secure kids are not mutualy exclusive, in fact they depend on each other Sayin to your 5 year old "No, honey, you can't have cake/xbox/etc" will not turn her into a depressed, suicidal, teen with no self esteem.

Lion of Zion said...

thanks for the chizuk.

aml said...

I'm not all that thrilled with this either. Something with this just doesn't site right with me.

I know so many kids (all outside of the Jewish community) whose parents live and breath by this creed. I wouldn't be comfortable saying they're abusing their children, but something isn't quite right (see§ionID=4&articleID=928)).

Of course, I believe SL posted his because of the entitlement issues, but I think its good to take a moment to smile and be proud of the community we've created. It isn't perfect, but it could be a whole lot worse.

anonymous mom said...

Aml,the entitlement issue is one of the dark forces poisoning our kids. It gets in the way of the most important rule of our faith: Be a Mentsch. We are churning out too many who are not. And I'm a helicopter parent who showers my kids with affection and care--probably too much. "No" is Chesed sometimes.

Shoshana said...

Entitlement is a natural consequence of our society's tendency to reward children for self-determined and self-soothing behavior. It's no wonder they think they are the center of the universe. Children are told repeatedly to make themselves feel better and to achieve goals (potty-training, spelling, eating, whatever) by being rewarded with external, and often superficial, reward systems.

If we want kids to know their place it should be in close proximity to their parents - looking up from a position of dependency - for direction, motivation, love and concern, and protection.

As SL has referred to it many times, please read Hold On to Your Kids by Dr. Gordon Neufeld or visit his site at for some amazing audio downloads. It will totally change the way you think of yourself as a parent.

Mike S. said...

There is nothing wrong, and much good, about making children feel proud of age appropriate acheivements even if they are minor by adult standards, like potty training, saying please and thank you, learning to read, etc. Where the drive for self-esteem goes wrong, in my opinion, is when it divorces praise from accomplishment entirely. My experience with children, no young adults, who were raised with parents who just expected the kids to do well, and who offered only criticism and no praise is, if anything, somewhat worse than those who were always praised for doing nothing, and never rebuked.

Tamiri said...

I love this guy and have a bunch of his books. He has great theories for raising kids.

Shoshana said...

mike s.

My idea didn't come across clearly enough. I am commenting on the fact that children are not allowed to internalize their achievements as either age-appropriate or as part of the greater goal of growing-up. They are simultaneously blinded by reward systems and threatened with isolating punishment (time-outs) all in the name of progress. Parents have lost touch with the fact that children grow through modeling and that can be done only in the context of relationship, not through bribery and punitive action.

Mike S. said...

Shoshana: I was reacting more to the one-sided nature of the "bill of rights" than to anything you wrote.

anonymous mom said...

I think the bill of rights is one-sided because it is targeting the "Magia Li" attitude of our children, both young and old that "they have a right to this or they have a right to that." It is phrased as a rebuttal to the silent statement that our kids are making when they expect everything for nothing. The list isn't meant to encompass the entire parent/child relationship. I do know plenty of parents, thoush, who are too one-sided on this issue, too strict, not warm enough, not connected enough to their kids.

Ahavah said...

I would add:

Children have the right to learn that the world doesn't owe them a living...

...and parents have the obligation to make sure every child is sufficiently educated to support themselves with employment. "A man who doesn't teach his son a trade teaches him to steal."

JS said...

I think another problem is the often misplaced desire to give our children things we never had growing up. While commendable in many instances, this sometimes gets out of hand. I just spoke to friends of my parents who sent their children on a month-long summer trip to Europe and then Israel. The parents wanted to take a trip of their own, but couldn't find adequate care for their children. So, what are they doing? Taking their kids with them on a second trip once they get back from the first. When I half-jokingly commented on how I had it rough at their age, I was working summers since I was 13, this parent said he too worked every summer and that he now works hard to give his kids opportunities he never had.

While these particular kids are not spoiled (yet at least), one wonders what the long-term affects are - what careers will they choose, what values will they look for in a spouse, what will their attitude be towards money, etc. Also, many kids are already spoiled at this age from this line of thinking.

An interesting post may be on where to draw the line between providing for your children things you never had (which I think is a goal all parents have) and not spoiling your children either.