Childism includes the inability of seeing events from a child’s perspective.

Arthur Silber has written a great entry on how adults are unable to take the child’s perspective, and how this means we gloss over significantly unhealthy dynamics that we impose on children. I encourage all who are interested in identifying and understanding childism to read it.

This is the crux of the problem, and the source of profound damage. It is crucial to understand what is happening here. Note the nature of the shift that has occurred: the mother’s concern is no longer with the wet floor or the wet towels and bathmat, or with the damage that might result if the water isn’t cleaned up. The mother’s concern — and what she demands this young boy focus on — is her own feelings. The mother was “very disappointed.” The mother “really didn’t like what he did.” And “what he did” was “bad.” And there is still more, and it is still worse: what the boy did was “bad,” he knew it was “bad” (at least, he did according to his mother), and he did the “bad” thing anyway.

Reflect for a few moments on the kind of self-evaluation a message of this kind will almost certainly lead to, especially if the message is conveyed to the boy repeatedly. I state the message again, to drive this point home: according to the mother, the boy did a bad thing, he knew it was a bad thing, and he did it anyway. If all that is true, the boy sounds like an entirely rotten human being. I can confirm this from my own childhood (and I suspect more than a few of you can, as well): I received messages like this all the time from my own mother. And I concluded that I must be a terrible human being, for reasons which remained utterly inexplicable to me. But my mother told me that, and she certainly believed it to be true. And I depended on my mother for life itself, as most young children do.

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