We all have different ways of perceiving people and life events. Some of our perceptions are accurate and factual. Others are based on preconceived notions and experiences. Some perceptions are good. Some are quite negative and downright harmful.
For example, a while back I watched a show where they researched how different people perceived certain groups of people. I don’t remember all four groups that the majority of people put others into based on how they perceive them. But, one group stood out to me as it hit close to home.
That group was called, “not dangerous, incompetent.”
Guess who was put into this group.
The disabled and the elderly. Had children been a part of this research, I’m sure children also would have been placed into the group as well since the majority tends to perceived children as incompetent.
What is sad is I am severely physically disabled due to my cerebral palsy, and yet, I have a Master’s Degree. Every day I must deal with people that perceive me as incompetent. This is why I’m working on getting my first children’s book published to change the negative and inaccurate perceptions of having a disability.
The elderly are very competent! They have years of wisdom even if their bodies won’t allow them to physically accomplish that which they once could.
And finally, children are extremely competent! They are capable of so much more than we give them credit. Yet, we never appreciate their abilities, but punish them for not being adults.
Thankfully, Jesus never liked how society perceived and viewed children. He gives us a high command when it comes to children.
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).
I believe that our society as a whole despises children. Children are the least respected people of our society.
They are murdered before they are born.
They are left to cry alone.
They are spanked/hit and publicly shamed.
People argue about their “right” to treat them however they want.
They are called horrible names.
The saddest thing about this is it’s Christians promoting much of this. Yet, Jesus is the One who elevated children’s societal status.
The way we view children is how they will behave. And when Christians perceive and view children as “sinners” and “manipulative,” they react and punish what they perceive as “defiance” when the child simply is trying to communicate with us. That’s why Dobson’s (and others like him) view is so dangerous. Not only does he call children horrible, degrading names in his books, but he sets up an adversarial parent-child relationship.
Interestingly, God calls children blessings in Psalm 127:3. I view children as little people in need of help, guidance, and discipline (teaching). When the focus is on cooperation instead of control, children cooperate. I’ve worked with some pretty difficult children and was able to get them to cooperate through positive discipline strategies such as modeling, child-proofing, validating feelings, fulfilling the child’s physical and emotional needs, setting realistic limits and boundaries, helping children comply, giving choices, and using natural and logical consequences with children. Children do better when we perceive and view them as God does.
We need to change our perceptions of all people–young and old, disabled, or any other differences. We need to do our best to base our perception on fact. Smaller humans are competent!