Why don’t we treat each other like children?

I’ve heard the argument from a husband or two over the years: “You treat me like a child!” To which I always want to reply, “Well, if you wouldn’t ACT like a child, I wouldn’t TREAT you like one!” I do better about holding back on that one nowadays… and I hear the accusation less often than I used to.

Now, I understand the frustration behind the argument. He feels he does not have a say in his own life. He feels I am being controlling; that I do not give him proper respect. And I fully admit that I have, at times, been guilty of these things.

But what does that have to do with children?

It’s a purely rhetorical question, as I understand how the frustrations of youth are comprised of, in large part, the inability to take control of one’s own life; that feeling of powerlessness over one’s circumstances.  However, these are the frustrations as seen from a child’s point of view. As parents, is it our intention to belittle, demean, or manipulate our children? In some instances, yes, granted. But, by and large, we always want to nurture and enrich our children’s lives to give them the best possible chances in life. We want to instill them with confidence in themselves while steering them away from dangerous paths. We want to show them that they are loved for who they are so that they can achieve greatness… or at least come to know a sense of inner peace and satisfaction in life. We want to take their little hands and walk through life with them, whispering words of love and encouragement and fending off any malicious forces that they may encounter.

Unfortunately, we are all human and we all fall short as parents. Life happens and we get frustrated when shoes are nowhere to be found on those days when we’re already running late. Sometimes those rolled eyes cause our own to see red. But, more than anything, it is the child’s inability to comprehend a parent’s intention through his narrow life view which gives him this sense of powerlessness.

As alcoholics, are we so different from children? Like children, we are very egocentric and stubborn. We have a limited world view and don’t see the dangers or possibilities outside our little bubble. Just like that 9-month old baby crawling everywhere to explore this big world, we will search for new answers in all the wrong places. And in the same way that baby will insist upon putting absolutely everything in his mouth, we will pick up dangerous substances again and again, bemoaning our lot in life when our hands are smacked and we are forced to give them up.

We fail to see the bigger picture. Through our alcoholic gaze, we can see no intent other than that to make our lives miserable. We do not yet have the ability to look outside ourselves to see how our actions are harming ourselves and others. We feel powerless. Our lives are out of our control. We are being treated like children again.

Yes. Yes, we are. We are being loved and nurtured. Our lives are being enriched. We are being shown which paths are dangerous and guided toward healthier ones. It is only once we give up that childish, alcoholic mindset that we can see the intent behind the circumstance.

Despite how it is received, do we intend to treat others the way we intend to treat our children? Are we looking out for them, trying to keep them from danger? Do we encourage them and praise them, hoping to instill confidence? Do we whisper words of love and encouragement?

Children’s programming today is such utter trash for the most part – insipid, inane and pointless. While “The Muppet Show” had more than its fair share of inanity (Pigs in Space?), it also had some very worthy gems reminding us children that we were worthy, just as we were. I needed to see this today and perhaps you do, too. There’s nothing quite like Bernadette Peters singing to a little frog to make you feel loved and accepted just as you are..

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