Last night I was kept awake by a series of persistent thoughts focussing on the concept of respect.
The thoughts consisted mostly of questions and I thought I'd share them here, if only to stop them nagging me!
We constantly ask for respect from those around us, but how well do we demonstrate the concept?
Is it something that is easier said than done?
What are the consequences of a lack of respect?
What other virtues arise as a consequence of respect?
Is it the cornerstone of good relationships?
Is self-respect a consequence of living surrounded by respect?
As an unschooling/life learning household respect is something we talk about a lot. Our lives are so intimately linked that often times respect becomes the lynch pin of our day to day life. Afterall, how else would we ever get anything done!?
For example, I need to run some errands and my youngest children (7 and 5 years old) are too young to stay home alone so I tell them what I need to do and explain that they need to come along. They are both busy (one playing Ratchet and Clank and one watching My Little Pony) so we talk about how long they both need to finish what they are doing and agree when we will be ready to leave. When the time comes, we leave without a fuss. Phew.
I think that this approach is particularly helpful with Aspie children and especially for those with PDAs (I am going to write about PDAs in more detail in the coming days) because it allows them to have both have some control over their time and it give them time to prepare themselves for the upcoming transition (which we all know is very hard). There are no surprises (or at least very few) and when there are, the children are better able to manage them as they know that it really is unavoidable.
I think the anxieties associated with Autistic Spectrum Disorders are lessened if the person feels in control. We are extremely privileged in that we can afford to spend the time respecting one another's needs and quirks.
Now, some of my family have said that I am setting my children up for a gigantic fall because the world doesn't work that way in general. I agree! The world is not always respectful. However, I completely disagree with that being a good enough reason to not live this way.
Which brings me back to my original thought. The more respectful you are, the more respectful your friends and family will be and consequently, perhaps, the world will be too. How can that be a bad thing?
I firmly believe in the Ghandi quote, "Be the change you wish to see in the world". I want my children to learn by example. Just because I don't think what they are doing is 'valuable', it does not mean that it is not. Who am I to judge? How would you feel if someone diminished your passions? How different would your life have been had someone let you spend four hours colouring your picture to the best of your ability? Or letting you devour book after book alone in your bedroom?
I firmly believe in empowerment and I think that the best way to empower and prepare my children for their future is to let them discover who they are, what they love and where they want their lives to go. I have long since let go of the notion that I know what's best for them (having a child with PDAs tends to do that). I don't. I can neither see the future nor can I dictate how they spend their time. and who they are.I resent people dictating to me and I see no reason why I should dictate to someone else.
As my children grow up to explore the world on their own, which I firmly believe they will, they will do so standing firmly in their own power and refusing to let people bully and manipulate them.