A covenant for honouring children
Jena Ball's superb posting (https://www.bebee.com/producer/@jena-ball/the-science-of-kindness) is the inspiration for this post as well as Robert Cormack's contribution to the commentary thread on that post.
Regular readers will know that I have two sons. Gabriel is eight and Samuel is six. My wife Kate and I are doing our utmost to keep alive in them a childlike sense of wonder and a powerful motivation toward kindness. We are ardent believers in the approach recommend by Dr. Dan Siegal in his seminal work The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary strategies to nurture your child's developing mind, survive everyday parenting struggles, and help your family thrive. (Delacorte Press; 1 edition (October 4, 2011)
There's a separate posting coming that deals more directly with our experience of implementing the principles espoused by Siegal so I won't belabour it now.
What this post was really intended to do was bring attention to something I came upon only recently. Raffi Cavoukian, better known by his mononym Raffi, is an Egyptian-born Canadian singer-songwriter and author best known for his children's music. He has developed his career as a "global troubadour", to become a music producer, author, entrepreneur, and founder of the Centre for Child Honouring, a vision for global restoration. Source: Wikipedia
I pheard him interviewed on CBC Radio recently where he spoke about his Covenant for Honouring Children and it moved me. Lest you think this Covenant is about letting the yard apes run wild without direction and discipline, it is rather a set of principles that acknowledge children as developing people. They are not 'little adults' nor are they empty vessels awaiting filling by our education systems and parental values.
I was born in a time and adopted by a family where the principle of children are to be seen and not heard was the foundation of our household's functioning. My adopted father also heartily embraced the Old Testament direction that to spare the rod was to spoil the child.
I am proud to say that my household operates on a foundation of principles that are as far removed as possible from that. In fact we operate with restitution always in mind and while we still have our periods of absolutely mental chaos and outrageous meltdowns, we find a way to come back to a central notion revolving around patience, compassion and kindness.
Anyway, with full credit to Raffi here is his Covenant for Honouring Children.
A COVENANT FOR HONOURING CHILDREN
We find these joys to be self evident: That all children are created whole, endowed with innate intelligence, with dignity and wonder, worthy of respect. The embodiment of life,
Liberty and happiness, children are original blessings, here to learn their own song. Every girl and boy is entitled to love, to dream and belong to a loving “village.” And to pursue a life of purpose.
We affirm our duty to nourish and nurture the young, to honour their caring ideals as the heart of being human. To recognize the early years as the foundation of life, and tocherish the contribution of young children to human evolution.
We commit ourselves to peaceful ways and vow to keep from harm or neglect these, our most vulnerable citizens. As guardians of their prosperity we honour the bountiful Earth whose diversity sustains us. Thus we pledge our love for generations to come.
CHILD HONOURING PRINCIPLES
The words of A Covenant for Honouring Children suggest nine guiding principles for living. Taken together, they offer a holistic way of restoring natural and human communities, thus brightening the outlook for the world we share. They form the basis for a multi-faith consensus on societal renewal.
is key. It speaks to the need to respect children as whole people and to encourage them to know their own voices. Children need the kind of love that sees them as legitimate beings, persons in their own right. Respectful love instills self-worth; it’s the prime nutrient in human development. Children need this not only from parents and caregivers, but from the whole community.
is about abundance: of human dreams, intelligences, cultures, and cosmologies; of earthly splendours and ecosystems. Introducing children to biodiversity and human diversity at an early age builds on their innate curiosity. There’s a world of natural wonders to discover, and a wealth of cultures, of ways to be human. Comforted by how much we share, we’re able to delight in our differences.
refers to the “village” it takes to raise a child. The community can positively affect the lives of its children. Child-friendly shopkeepers, family resource centres, green schoolyards, bicycle lanes, and pesticide-free parks are some of the ways a community can support its young.
can be taught from an early age; it begins with empathy for newborns. Elementary and secondary schools could teach nurturant parenting (neither permissive nor oppressive) and provide insight into the child-rearing process. Such knowledge helps to deter teen pregnancies and unwanted children. Emotionally aware parents are much less likely to perpetuate abuse or neglect.
sums up what early life is about: a time for exploring emotions in a safe setting, learning about feelings and how to express them. Those who feel loved are most able to learn and to show compassion for others. Emotional management builds character and is more important to later success than IQ. Cooperation, play, and creativity all foster the “EQ” needed for a joyful life.
is central to emotional maturity, to family relations, to community values, and to the character of societies that aspire to live in peace. It means more than the absence of aggression; it means living with compassion. Regarding children, it means no corporal punishment, no humiliation, no coercion. “First do no harm,” the physicians’ oath, must now apply to all our relations; it can become a mantra for our times. A culture of peace begins in a nonviolent heart, and a loving home.
foster a child’s feeling of security and belonging. The very young need protection from the toxic influences that permeate modern life–from domestic neglect and maltreatment, to the corporate manipulations of their minds, to the poisonous chemicals entering their bodies. The first years are when children are most impressionable and vulnerable; they need safeguarding.
refers not merely to conservation of resources, renewable energy development, and anti-pollution laws. To be sustainable, societies need to build social capacity by investing in their young citizens, harnessing the productive power of a contented heart. The loving potential of every young child is a potent source for good in the world.
is fundamental to a child-honouring world. It includes a revolution in the design, manufacture and sale of goods; corporate reform; “triple bottom line” business; full-cost accounting; tax and subsidy shifts; political and economic cycles that reward long-term thinking. Ethical commerce would enable a restorative economy devoted to the well being of the very young.
Photo credit: Me
Copyright 2016 Don Kerr Writes
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