July 30, 2004

The Child's Bill of Rights

We've had this posted on our refrigerator for years; I just found the original on the web (click on "Bill of Rights" in the left-hand column). My favorites:
Because it is the most character-building, two-letter word in the English language, children have the right to hear their parents say "No" at least three times a day.
Children have a right to scream all they want over the decisions their parents make, albeit their parents have the right to confine said screaming to certain areas of their homes.
Because it is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, children have the right to hear their parents say "Because I said so" on a regular and frequent basis.
Children have the right to learn early in their lives that obedience to legitimate authority is not optional, that there are consequences for disobedience, and that said consequences are memorable and, therefore, persuasive.
Posted by Will Duquette at July 30, 2004 08:42 PM

Deb said:

Amen. I might add that in a family, you dont have to like someone all the time. You just have to be civil. That will cover you when the bickering starts in the adolescent years.

Ian Hamet said:

I would dispute the "because I said so" part. It is entirely appropriate with children too young to reason, or to comprehend the reasons. But if "the whole truth" is that you are exercising power arbitrarily, I submit that you need to rethink your position. (Note: I am using the general "you," not referring to Will specifically.) Having said that, a line of reasoning should only need to be stated once (and understood by the child, of course). After that, BCISS is a perfectly acceptable stand-in.

(Yes, I just proved beyond any doubt that I have no children yet. :)

Regarding the "legitimate authority" part: hear! hear!!!

Will Duquette said:

The thing you need to remember, Ian, is that virtue is as much a good habit as it is a reasoned choice. I do explain to my kids the reasons why I tell them to do certain things--but the final reason, especially when time is short, is "Because I said so."

In other words, it doesn't matter whether they agree with my reasons or not. I'm Dad, and I'm in charge.

Granted, I try to be a benevolent dictator rather than a cruel tyrant...but I think any parent would tell you that kids sometimes find benevolence and tyranny hard to distinguish.

Deb said:

I've always explained to my kids that our house is a benevolent dictatorship and, contrary to their beliefs, I, not they, am the dictator.

I personally think kids like the safety of having rules and boundries even when they dont understand why they have to follow them.