How many times, if ever, did anyone you know talked to you about how they sat and contemplated what are his/her child’s rights? I mean, ofcourse we often as parents have discussion on the importance of good schooling, healthcare and parental care to a child’s welfare but very rarely do we as parents (at least in my context) ever sit and contemplate on what rights do our children have. We often have discussions around their responsibilities towards themselves, their family, school and generally the community. But at least in my case, though I consider myself an aware mother that read lots of books on parenting, studied about family and have a very specific paradigm of parenting, I don’t remember having a conversation with Nour (my daughter) specifically about her rights as a child! We did, however, talk a lot about house rules that included conversation around respect and how it should be mutual and how she at all times is entitled to being respected. Such conversations did include questions around what indicates respect? Does she always have to agree with what I say to be respectful for example or is respect that she listens carefully before expressing her views? Such questions made lots of complex concepts easier to understand for Nour.
A child’s bill of rights is by no mean my idea. It’s the idea and I believe creation of a young author called Max Sindell, who I just finished reading a very good book for called The Bright Side. The book is focused on helping kids with divorced parents go through or actually get through the idea of their parents eternal separation and live a healthy balanced life. I guess the uniqueness of this book lies on the fact that it wasn’t written (like most other books) to divorced parents in an attempt to help them support their kids cope with divorce, instead the book was written to the children themselves, addressing them, their needs, concerns and in most cases their maturing ability to understand complex things like divorce. I personally have enjoyed the book very much and was very much fascinated by its very first chapter “The bill of rights”. Though the chapter focused on educating a divorced child on his/her rights in regard to the context of his divorced parents, I found the idea of exploring my child’s bill of rights captivating. The notion of sitting and having a discussion with Nour about some of her rights and how she can encourage me to help her always have them was very interesting. Hence came this post for tonight, through this post I am encouraging every mummy and daddy reading this to sit together or separately and think about what is your child’s rights? When you come up with some few points, ask yourself if your kid knows these rights? Do they understand them? Do they even know what is a right? I truly believe such a conversation would be an enriching and developmental to both parents and their kids alike. Having such a discussion with your child is your contribution to nurturing the seeds of freedom and responsibility within your kid. By teaching him/her about his/her rights and how to protect those rights, you present him/her with the opportunity and understanding of freedom.
In an attempt of trying to positively contribute to this experience I thought of helping everyone out brainstorm around the below points. Though the points mentioned by Sindell are pretty much geared towards divorced kids, I still think they are pretty comprehensive and are to the core of any child’s relationship with his/her parents.
Child’s Bill of Rights;
1. The right to be safe and feel secure
2. The right of awareness
3. The right to counseling
4. The right to be heard
5. The right to be your own person
6. The right to neutral
7. The right to private communication
My concluding thoughts and prayers are for everyone to always be blessed with awareness and knowledge that would in one or more ways enable their lives. I also can’t skip the thought of having gratitude for being presented with the opportunity to read the book, learn from it and pass on some of the knowledge.
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Marwa Advocates for freedom, peace, and building compassionate homes.