Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Is ‘eat your peas!’ emotional abuse?

Here is an essay from England:
y friend’s eight-year-old son doesn’t like greens. Recently, when faced with a dinner plate containing fish, chips and peas, he was asked by his dad to ‘Finish it all up!’, to which the boy replied, ‘I feel very uncomfortable having to eat these peas’. It was a striking moment. It seemed he’d internalised the language of child protection, and then used it to get his own way; one of the mantras children are taught at school nowadays is ‘Never feel you have to do anything you are uncomfortable with’.

This may seem like a funny example, but it shows how the language of child protection can be used to undermine adult authority. I was recently in a bus station in London where some noisy teenage girls were throwing sweets around. An elderly man gently remonstrated with them; they responded by shouting ‘Paedo!’ at him.

Children are not stupid. They pick up on the general culture of fear and suspicion of adults that has sprung from society’s obsession with child protection.
The park in downtown Santa Cruz has a child play area that is fenced off and has a sign: "Adults must be accompanied by children."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fish, chips, and peas sounds like a well-balanced meal. When I was a child, I hated peas. But I was a budding lawyer, not a therapist. My father told me to eat a spoonful and we negotiated how much that meant. I got him down to six.