There is a video floating around that shows multiple children of various ages crying because of something their parents are forcing them to do. Again. This time it is to eat vegetables and viewers find it HILARIOUS.
Red faces. Gagging. Sobbing. Crying. Falling off a chair. Tears streaming down faces. Pained. In pain. Distraught. Helpless. Parents and viewers find it so funny that they not only record it, but laugh at it over and over again; helpless, distraught, gagging, sobbing children. For humor.
We can quickly move past the fact that any psychologist, psychiatrist, child development specialist, occupational therapist, or pediatrician worthy of an ounce of respect would tell these parents to STOP right now- that the damage done to self worth, self esteem, relationship with food and damage to the parent/child relationship far outweighs any nutritional value of vegetables. Not forcing kids to eat vegetables this way is not only common sense, it is what research supports. Instead, we can focus on the real problem here which is not new or different; we believe that children are less than human. Their emotion is not real. Their preferences are not valid. They are annoying beings who have to be tortured into shape.
Can you imagine if those videos were made of a wife? A woman who is sobbing, crying, gagging, begging not to be forced to put something she does not like in her mouth, videotaped by her husband. The husband not only laughs and laughs but compiles the footage, taken against her will, with other videos of wives crying and being forced to put something in their mouths and it is then circulated among a group of men who share it again and again because it is HILARIOUS?
Can you imagine?
Can you imagine what all women would feel seeing that compilation shared? Can you imagine what that would do to our society? Can you imagine how much that would affect our view of women? Can you imagine how that would change our lives?
Children are viewed as less than human. We can do things to them that we can do to no other group of people- forcing them to eat vegetables that make them gag, hit them, force them to wear clothing that makes them extremely uncomfortable, the list goes on. What’s worse is that we think so little of them that we use gang mentality against them. We share videos -without their permission- of them being forced to do things they do not want to do. We LAUGH at their powerlessness. We MAKE FUN of their dislikes, sensory issues, and pain. Together. We share it as quickly as we can because it is SO FUNNY.
It is not okay and it has to stop.
If you encountered a child on the street who was alone and crying and sobbing, what would you do? Would you point and laugh? Would you grab other passersby, pull them together and point your fingers at the crying child and laugh so hard you had tears rolling down your face? Or would your heart burst and your concern be high? Would you talk gently and find out how you could help? Would you offer comfort and try to be a kind human to help another struggling human- one who is far less equipped to navigate life and process emotions? All of you would choose the latter.
So where is the disconnect? Why do we think it is okay to use mob mentality to circle up, point our fingers, and laugh at children who are being tortured? I bet I just disclosed the disconnect. Many will say it’s not torture. I ask you though to consider this: what is the thing you cannot eat? Is it liverwurst? Is it over-boiled Brussels Sprouts? Is it head cheese? Imagine your spouse sitting you at the table forcing you to eat it. Imagine it moving toward your lips- the smell, the sight. Imagine that first taste after sitting for minutes or hours begging not to have to eat it. What does that liverwurst feel like in your mouth? How does that head cheese taste? Are you gagging? Are you crying? How do you feel toward your husband who is sitting powerfully in front of you forcing you to eat the thing that has brought you to this point? Do you feel love? Gratitude? Do you feel empowered? Do you feel like this was for your own good? Or do you feel hate and anger? Do you feel like you will get as far away from this man as soon as you are able? Do you feel like it is basic logic that there is nothing in those Brussels Sprouts that holds any nutritional value compared to the torture you have endured?
Viewing children as subhuman is wrong. It is killing our country. We won’t see a societal shift in this generation or the next. We can create small changes, though. We can make a difference in our own families, and maybe others.
The next time you see one of these videos -whether it is children being forced to eat vegetables or anything else that shows them as subhuman- I ask you to do one thing. Instead of laughing, or sharing it, type these words in the comments: “Poor kids.” Better yet, let’s start a quick and easy movement- let’s hashtag it; #PoorKids. This is not grandiose. It is not a big deal. It is not going to fix much. BUT, if one person reading that thread sees the words #PoorKids and pauses to think about what it means, that will make a change. Maybe they won’t laugh. Maybe they won’t share. Maybe they will see the horror in the children’s eyes and understand that the tears and emotions are real, not drama. Maybe this will alter -just a little bit- the way they look at and treat children.
People are annoyed to learn about new “isms” but Childism is not new. It is overwhelming to think about how to stop it, and really, we cannot. We can take little actions that might make a difference though, and stopping the sharing of these videos and maybe getting a few people to pause and consider by typing #PoorKids might help.
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