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Do our children have a voice or do we as parents silence them?

 

Do our children have a voice or do we as parents silence them? “Don’t you see gown folks talking, go play with the kids”. This is something many of us as kids heard our parents say. I am sure my grandparents said it to my parents. Kids have always had this seen but not heard type of stigma. I get it, kids do need to be kids and stay in a child place. In this world we live in now our poor kids are exposed to too much too soon. It’s scary to say the least.

When I was, a kid coming up my parents did things a little different than their parents. I can remember having a conversation with my mother and her telling me how they were not allowed to voice their opinions. Since this was one of those things that bothered my mother she allowed my brother and I to be vocal. Now do not get me wrong we could not be disrespectful but we were allowed to say how we felt.

Not being silenced as a child help me as an adult have my voice. When you are a child you are only preparing yourself for adulthood. Every lesson that is taught during your childhood will have some sort of meaning in this grown-up world. My mother had an open-door policy I could remember when we would have our “serious” conversation she always made me feel like I could come to her and talk about anything. Yes, my mother wanted to keep that open line of communication with me, but she was my mother first.

There were times that I may not have been totally comfortable discussing different issues with her. For example, when I was a teen my mother told me that if I were sexually active or thought I was going to be to let her know so she could make me an appointment with a gynecologist. She assured me that she would not make me feel uncomfortable nor would she question me about my decision. When that day came, I went to my mother and simply asked her to make that appointment. I was scared and I thought she might renege on our agreement. My mother looked me in my eyes and I knew she was going to lecture me but instead she just stared at me for about 15 seconds (felt like 30 minutes) and nodded her head and said “Okay, I will call tomorrow to get you an appointment.”

What if my mother did not allow me to have a voice? Would I be that person that didn’t know how to stand up for myself. Maybe that person that saw someone else in need but was afraid to speak up for them in their defense? I consider myself to be a pretty tough cookie. I have been in different situations where I have had to stand up for myself or someone that couldn’t do it themselves.

When I was about 26 years old I got a job as an executive assistant for a director of a department. I was so excited about this job. Something just didn’t seem right. From the moment I came in I was introduced to the department and was told what position I was going to be working in. The look on my coworker’s face made me feel like I made a mistake. What did I just do? When the director of the department finally came in she called me into her office. She was scary! Her demeanor and her sternness was very intimating.

 

We worked like this for weeks. She would ask me a question and when I gave her my response she asked me the same question again as if to make sure I was sure with my response. One day she sent me an email and asked a question. When I responded, she replied with “Are you sure?” At that very moment I had had enough.

I jumped up from my desk went into her office and shut the door. I place my two hands on her desk and said “Do you have a problem with me?” She turned from her computer and just stared at me. At that moment, I didn’t know if I was going to be fired. I had to stand up for myself. Suddenly a smile cracked on her face and she said “FINALLY! This is what I had been waiting for.” I was so confused and I had no idea where she was going with this.

She began to explain that she wanted someone that would not just take her crap and actually stand up to her. I was at a loss for words and did not understand why she would put someone through so much but from that day forward she gave me the most respect she ever gave anyone in that entire office. My coworkers did not understand what I did to get in her good graces. I never discussed what happened in her office that day I “shut the door”.

Image by © Ned Frisk Photography/Corbis

I sometimes wonder if my parents did not allow me to freely speak my mind (within reason of course) would I have been that timid girl that was afraid to speak my mind. As a child, they do have a voice. They are our little people that will soon be our big people of tomorrow. I suggest we do not completely silence them and let them know that they do have a voice. Just make sure that voice is a respectful voice.

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