27 May 2008

Children's voices

Do we really listen to them? I thought so until I attended a workshop on Childrens' voices and Child Friendly Communities.

I mean, how often have I thought "I will do/buy/make this for my child and they will love it. Often being disappointed because they don't and then thinking how ungrateful they are, don't appreciate the time/money spent. All because I think they should like the beautiful wooden, natural toy or the handmade waldorf steiner inspired doll, so therefore it is only natural THEY should love it too. However, my children have their own mind and let know it always. I still remember the Christmas that I had spent hours and hours lovingly handstitching a doll for Nienna and giving it to her. She loved it, that is she loved it until her father arrived with a smelly, plastic (toxic?) 'baby' doll. She was truly in love and my creation didn't get a look in for weeks. I was furious and ranted silently to myself. Trying to shove my doll in her arms at every opportunity. Hoping she would lose or leave her plastic monster at her fathers house LOL
Did I really listen to her? I don't think so, I tried to instill my values and likes onto her. I made a steiner doll because I liked them and believed she should like them too.

Another example is the time she kept asking me for a barbie doll. I had battled with the dilemma for quite some time and have spoken of it in previous posts (scroll down to bottom). Eventually I caved and when she next asked for one I got her one, she was beside herself with excitement. Ofcourse now the excitement is long over and bimbo,. errrr Barbie is in the bottom of the toy cupboard forgotten for the majority of the time.

A lesson learned this morning for me: Yesterday i created a fairy castle/den under the top bunk for Nienna. I hung various bits of silky and lacey fabric to give a harem type effect. I thought it was perfect and she seemed pretty pleased with it. This morning however both her and Beren said they needed pegs to peg a blanket to the front of the top bunk to make a real cave. Perhaps if I had just asked them what they needed to do it in the first place I could have saved myself a shit load of pins, fabric and time LOL

How can this be applied on a larger scale? I hear all too often 'grown ups' commenting/ranting that the youth have so much done for them and just don't appreciate it and abuse it. That they are lucky we bother, not sure why we do when all they do is graffiti/vandalise etc etc I am sure you all know about it. Especially if you read local papers. I was speaking to my mum about it today too. She lives in Bicheno on the East Coast of Tasmania, a small town of around 1000 locals. She said how the kids of the town had asked for a skate park. So the 'grown ups' agreed that was a good idea, stop them getting up to no good! So, what happened? The grown ups, did all the paperwork, fundraising, permits etc etc because the kids couldn't possibly do it and are too lazy and wouldn't know what to do. A common scene I am sure.

I am a strong believer that there is no point DOING for others be it kids, adults, advantaged, disadvantaged. We , in whatever role we take have to facilitate, we have to open up opportunities for empowerment. If children, teens were asked the very simple question "WHAT DO YOU WANT?" then assisted in achieving I think there would be less graffiti, vandalising and petty crime and more ownership and pride. I have to wonder in this day of 'lets build 'em a skate park and get them away from us' fad how many of the youth take ownership of the parks and get to feel a sense of pride? Does anyone walk away from these projects with a "wow! I did that!" feeling or is it more of a "thank god the shop owners will stop hassling us about those kids hanging around".

Even though I went to the workshop with this attitude I was blown away with the words of the speaker. Serdar Degirmencioglu was awe inspiring, just google him and you will see all the projects and papers he has been involved with. The child led projects that he spoke of were fantastic but the clincher for me were his words on parenting. He spoke of attachment, of listening to your child from before birth and all of this is so important to me. If anyone ever gets the chance to listen to this man when he is next in Australia I cannot stress enough for you to do it.
Anyway, best get off my soapbox for now rest my weary head.


Eilleen said...

Thank you for this post. I can relate to it so much! Off to google that guy's name!

Char said...

hear hear... now if only we could put it into PRACTICE :)