In a world that is filled with unrealistic expectation of children at its best and downright prejudice against children at its worst, sometimes it is hard to explain to my kids why adults say or do certain things in response to them. Many adults were raised in a way that expected children to be seen and not heard, to only participate in conversations they were invited too, and above all do not say or do anything that is bothersome to adults without expecting immediate discipline.
When you are a child that is raised in a way that you are treated with respect, treated in a way that values what you have to say, and seeks your contribution to the family choices, it can be quite a shock to be abruptly cut off, ignored, or talked down to. I try to only take the kids to outings that I know the adults parent similarly enough, or at least will mind their own business and not butt in with my kids. Out in the real world, sometimes it is possible to avoid, but I am very thankful to be able to have friendship groups where children are valued and respected by all.
I was reminded of all this recently. We were invited to a friends house for a graduation party she was throwing her oldest daughter. This friend is a wonderful example of someone who values individuality and cultivates respect for all types of people. She has raised her kids in that vein, and it truly shows with her teenagers. There were many people of all ages at this party. Everyone was having a good time.
My oldest, Hailey (7) is my extrovert. She loves being in social settings, making new friends, and being the entertainment of the room. Many times throughout the night, I seen her sharing jokes, stories, recipes, or ideas with other people. The adults listened to her, interacted, told jokes back, and overall treated her the same as they would any other guest. It was then, a large feeling of thankfulness for these type of people in our life flooded over me. She wasn’t seen as an annoying kid who talked too much or a kid who didn’t realize social expectations (things I remember feeling as a child). Actually, the opposite was the case. My friends shared with me how they noticed her creative side, and they took joy in her. I felt very much the same way about their children. It was so special to me to share that.
This sense of respecting and admiring all people was present in the teenagers of the house as well. I was outside and Hailey went inside. After a few minutes, I went to go check in on her. She was telling jokes to the group of older kids hanging around. They were listening and laughing. They made her feel heard.
I want my children to feel just as welcomed as I do in social gatherings. That means sometimes we leave when that isn’t happening. That means sometimes people get put into the acquaintance relationship category, instead of friend. That means sometimes, the kids and I have hard talks about why things happen and children are treated differently. I am so thankful to have found people in my life who share similar values.