Raising Kids to Change the World

The last nine years of my life have been an active experiment for me. My daughter was born in August 2003, and every day since then she has changed my life. That’s the experience for me. The experiment I’ve been living is one based on emperical and scientific data that I’d collected throughout my young career and research studies associated with my field. My hypothesis was that I could intentionally raise my child to change the world.

When I was young, my parents taught me that we would not be able to change the world if we can not solve the problems in our house or in our neighborhood. If we can not solve the problems that happen in the living room or across the street, how will we change the problems happening across the ocean?

Working with children and youth in a variety of capacities since I was 14, including as a teacher, counselor, organizer, and advocate, I’d come to understand the inherent ability of young people to change the world. As a friend to many parents, I also saw the roles of mothers and fathers in raising children who had the ability to change the world. Between those two primary views, I’d also studied the roles of youth in society in college and did graduate work focused on education. I’d also completed a significant statewide action research study for a state education agency focused on increasing the ways students connected to each other, their educational environments, and the things they were supposed to learn in schools.

Through those experiences I began to understand that my own experience raising kids would focus on changing the world. This would happen through example, conversation, and enacting different forms of social change in my household.

I’m writing today to report that my studies go well.

Intentionally striving to ensure her critical engagement, righteous compassion, and deep knowledge of the world she lives in, at the age of nine my daughter is committed to changing the world around her.

However, this might not be apparent to an outside, quick observation. Depending on the viewer, an outsider may see a curiously imaginative personality whose empathetic knowledge melds well with her interpersonal skills.

From my own view though, that of the (obviously biased) ground-level scientist I am, I will offer this: Through intentional design but without shoving it down her throat, my daughter exhibits a deep understand of injustice and intolerance in the world around her. Her high degree of intuitive empathy has been nurtured through in educational environments where her skills, ability, and knowledge have been grown through design and deliberation. When those haven’t been present, my daughter has been given new opportunities that do meet those goals. At home, she’s exposed to an array of stories, songs, and other opportunities that allow her to interact substantively, meaningfully, and deeply with the notion of changing the world. She is constantly encouraged to share her most critical conceptions and imaginative responses, along with her pragmatic conception of the world she wants to live in.

While she doesn’t wear dreadlocks or wave picket signs, raising my daughter in this way has shown awesome results. She has developed a deep compassion without denial; understood complex situations without shying away from them; and started to create her own uniquely powerful vision of the world as it is, and as it could be.

In the meantime, my life has changed too. I have come to understand the necessity of personal engagement, and I see now the need for the transition of generations to ensure ongoing transformation in our world. As I have grown to create more and better things with my hands, I have seen the need for things to get better and better. Shift happens.

So long as I live, I will never stop being this young woman’s dad. I’ve always said that’s my most important job, and that will always hold true. I believe anyone can do this, with design, hope, intention, and action. It’s just like changing the world, one kid at a time, because it is changing the world. There’s nothing greater that a parent can do.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Engaging Babies and Kids

Is there a time for youth engagement? Recently I was leading a workshop when a parent asked me that question. I answered by explaining that engagement happens from the youngest years and onward. Here are some of my thoughts.

 


Youth engagement happens during infancy. Parents who deliberately respond to their infants’ needs in holistic ways lay the foundation for lifelong engagement. Respecting young babies can mean encouraging their “personhood” – that is, being as attentive, courteous, and deliberate about them as you are with older people. Experts suggest close physical time between parents and children creates the strong personal attachment that can lead to strong community bonds. A father who nurtures his baby, rather than avoiding or “handing off” responsibilities, supports strong engagement. Developing a strong sense of community is important at this phase as well. When small children are surrounded by caring adults they learn that their responsibility is to care.

When an infant “goo-goos” at you, listen to them. They will learn that when they speak, their voice has impact. Listening to a child’s voice is the first step of the Cycle of Youth Engagement. It is also important to give young infants your undivided attention for at least short periods of your day. This shows young children that their presence and activity is important enough for you to stop your day and be with them.

 


Youth engagement happens during childhood. Investing in children can mean building their skills and giving the time, resources, and space needed in order to share responsibility with them. However, it also means developing the skills and investments adults need to succeed, as well. Communicating with toddlers and children means talking with them, not at them. That’s a skill that adults usually have to learn, starting with unlearning their previous behaviors. Acknowledging children’s voices can be important for self-worth. It can also help form a community expectation. As adults, engaging children requires us to change our behavior while we strive to mold the behavior of children. However, this is an essential developmental phase where children inform their sense of identity, purpose, and belonging within their larger village. Part of this expectation is to turn a popular idiom on its head: Instead of, “It takes a village to raise a child,” think about what it means to say, “It takes a child to raise a village.” That’s what Youth engagement is about. 

When children go through hard times, they usually figure out how to “deal with it.” This ability, called resilience, is a powerful skill. However, children need to learn how to use it positively. Design Youth engagement activities to teach children how to rely on community as a collective benefit that can help them. That will build up the positive power of young people to change not just their own lives, but the communities around them.

What do you think about engaging babies and children?

 


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Why Adultism Must Stop

Just over 200 years ago, sociology was born. As a science, it hadn’t existed before that in any substantive way. Within 50 years, sociologists had imposed their scientific conceptualization onto education, which emerged as a field in the late 19th century. Pedagogy, which is the science of education, didn’t exist until then.
Both sociology and pedagogy are the driving forces of how our society “sees” children and youth today. Both were developed by adults for the purpose of perpetuating society. They inherently believe that in order for society to continue, young people had to be controlled. That means that society is based on adultism.
Adultism, which is bias towards adults, discriminates against children and youth. It insists that the ways adults “see” the world, including their ideas, experiences, actions, interactions, and judgments, are the only or most valid and valuable perspectives. In other words, only adults matter.
Adultism has structured families, communities, cultures, and societies for time immemorial. It isn’t a recent phenomenon. The usage of social institutions to perpetuate adultism isn’t new, either: Churches were long used to control the behavior of young people; which in turn allowed Church fathers to control the behavior of adults through patriarchy and paternalism. Adultism made their jobs easier.
Adultism makes the jobs of adults today easier, too. 
Without having to think about it, teachers, youth workers, and even parents can control young people. They dispose of wisdom, extol the virtues of manners, and enforce their conceptions of the world onto young people through education and punishment, legislation and rules. 
The question becomes whether, in a technologically and evolutionary progressive world, adultism is still an effective mechanism for perpetuating society. Particularly in these times when society itself is in flux, proving to be a malleable and subjective tool for social organization, we must question whether it’s wise to continue to rely on adultism as a tool for social organizing, if only because young people have proved to be:
  1. Dynamic actors rather than static audience (They DO things instead of just watch them);
  2. Socially responsive instead of culturally deviant (They’re making a better world instead of a worse one);
  3. Highly effective creators instead of ineffectually passive consumers (Preaching doesn’t working- making does.)
These realities provide an opportunity for adults to reconsider the ways we see and interact with young people. More importantly though, they challenge us to reconceptualize society’s conceptions. Are we going to continue being driven by outdated modalities, or rise to the occasion we are faced with? Another way to say that is, Are we going to let old rich white guys who’ve been dead for a century or more control us today?
We need new realities starting today, and adultism must stop now. 
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Anti-Adultism Parenting Resources

Ten years ago, when I began full-time training and consulting about adultism, there were four publications about adultism. Anywhere. None of them were written for parents, and only one of them mentioned parenting. Eight years ago when I became a parent I became determined to teach my peers about adultism.

You can find the list I began compiling about anti-adultism in 2002, including a couple articles focused on parenting, at http://freechild.org/adultism.htm.

Following is an exclusive collection of anti-adultism parenting resources. I am glad to share this list with you. I think it represents a fair scan of resources available to parents who want to stop their own adultist ways, and help others who do, too. Let me know what you think, and what you would add to this list.

Lefty Parent – I met Cooper Zale at the International Democratic Education Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia in 2008. In 2010 he picked up the topic of adultism on his blog, and has written steadily about different aspects of it since then. This link goes to his most recent, which is addressed “Adultism vs Legitimate Adult Stewardship of Youth”. He’s also written extensively about adultism on Daily Kos.

Mommyish – Bolaji Williams shares a tremendous analysis called, “Adultism: People get over your hatred of children.” In reward for her bold assertion that, “It’s like racism, except the target/victim is children,” Williams garnered more than 120 comments on her post.

Power to Control – In her Life Learning MagazineWendy Priesnitz has shared The Freechild Project’s posts on adultism for a while. In a post called “Defeating Adultism” she writes about the inherited nature of adultism, and exposes what can be done.

“Good Job!” And Other Things You Shouldn’t Say – I’m tremendously excited about this smart, sophisticated approach to advocating against adultism. The word is all over the blog, starting here. Enjoy.

Teresa Graham Brett – From her organization committed to Parenting for Social Change, Teresa has been developing a powerful position to take a stand from. In several posts she writes about adultism, including this recent piece.

Other recommending reading…

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Why "Youth Empowerment" Fails Us (for Maggie)

A while back I wrote a post called Youth Involvement as a Kludge where I described how youth involvement programs can actually become bigger problems than they are solutions. My friend Maggie responded with the following question:

I don’t know how to become an equal [with youth] without losing my authority; how to give youth their power, without giving too much- is it even possible?

Well, its been a month of Sundays, but I’m able to respond this morning. Let me start by saying that I think you’ve asked a valid question that’s in the hearts and minds of many youth workers, Maggie, especially when we hear the drumbeat of Youth Voice and the call for youth involvement so frequently.
When I was young the youth workers in my neighborhood often talked to me about youth empowerment, and as I got older I explored the assumptions behind youth empowerment. I came to conclude that there is an ambiguity built into calls for youth empowerment that is inherently disenfranchising, both to the youth and the adults who are involved. “Youth empowerment” fails youth because there is no standard for it. I wrote a definition of it for Freechild’s Guide to Social Change Led By and With Youth, stating that, “Youth empowerment is an attitudinal, structural, and cultural process whereby young people gain the ability, authority, and agency to make decisions and implement change in their own lives and the lives of other people, including youth and adults.” But there is no consensus about the definition, as several different organizations, researchers and young people have put out their own definitions. Basically, the term means too many different things to too many different people. Many people will challenge that the intention is the same, and that’s what I tried to capture with my own definition.
All the same, with that uncertainty comes a lot of room for interpretation. On one end of the spectrum are folks who attribute any amount of power-sharing with young people as youth empowerment. This can look like youth chosing the colors of their bedrooms, students planning homecoming dances and teens “getting” a new basketball court in their neighborhood. All these things have been labelled as youth empowerment. On the other end of the spectrum is the absolutism represented by the youth liberation movement: young people completely able to control their own destinies, with economic, spiritual, educational, politicial, recreational and social “freedom” to do whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want. I learned early that these dicotomous understandings aren’t necessarily in opposition of each other; instead, they’re locations along a spectrum. All that said Maggie, I think your question ultimately asks how you can find the balance, the midway point along that spectrum. The good news is that I don’t think you have to chose – the challenging news is that I don’t think the question you asked is an honest choice that anyone should have to make. Now I’ll answer your questions within a question directly.
Let me say this unequivocally: Adults and youth cannot and should not be equals. There are practical reasons why nature has provided us with differences in our phsyco- and social metrics, with the child/parent/elder relationship intact in my thinking. This is a challenging thing for me to write, and if asked I’ll provide some gray spaces and exceptions to the rule. However, for the most part I believe that all children and youth should be granted the permission, ability, resources and opportunities they need to be children and youth. Likewise, I believe that all adults should receive what they need to be adults, as well. In my reading of the literature, those definitions have been changing throughout modern times, from the European colonization of the Americas onwards, and those changes should be acknowledged and embraced for their inevitability and validity. I am a proponent of changing those roles myself. However, as our society stands today youth and adults should not be equals. I do believe there should be equity between youth and adults.
The authority adults have in society is assumed and granted by social custom and political institution. It is a false, yet logical, authority that grants power, access and reign simply because of age, rather than ability, knowledge, strength or widsom. The question of whether adults should ever lose their authority isn’t necessarily the right one, because of the political/judicial systems that reinforce our social norms, customs and expectations. Courts hold adults responsible for the interest and well-being of youth, and no adult should be expected to sacrifice their legal compliance to meet the demands of a moral or ethical high ground. If an adult wants to do that it raises the question of appropriate adult allyship and the role of youth/adult partnerships; however, these are questions of gradation rather than absolutism. You don’t have to lose your authority Maggie; instead, you have to recognize where the possibilities for power-sharing are possible. My Cycle of Youth Voice is designed for adults who want to do that.
In a new song U2 sings that, “Every generation gets a chance to change the world. Pity the nation that won’t listen to your boys and girls – cos the sweetest melody is the one we haven’t heard.” Maggie, I think you are on your way to listening to this melody. But I want to make sure you’re not overwhelmed by the chorus singing in the background. Do what you can for you, and what you can for Jenna, and everything will turn out exactly the way its supposed to. Good luck, and remember I’m here if you want more.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

A Parent’s Question about Punishment in Schools

I receive a lot of email and have a lot of conversations with concerned parents, people who know that their childrens’ rights are being violated or that Youth Voice is being suppressed or any of a number of bad, bad things. Sometimes it is overwhelming; sometimes enlightening. Following is an email I received last night:

My daughter was “sentenced” to Saturday work detail (picking up garbage after a Friday night football game) for talking in class. This occurred without any due process. There were no warnings, no “in school” punishment handed out and the “dean” of discipline told my daughter that when he receives a complaint from a teacher (called a referral) he automatically believes the teacher and not the student. there are probably 25 or more of these a day handed out. In addition, the school that she attends (public school) has a “wall” labeled in BIG letters “THE WALL” where the students who had referrals must line up against to receive their assigned punishments. (in this case, my daughter contends she was one of many students talking during an in class “lab” type assignment where students are paired up to collect personal information from each other (by talking). There was no loud speaking during class, no swear language, nothing that should rise to this level of punishment. We recently moved here. My daughter has never had problems with discipline or otherwise, and is a 4.0 college bound senior. The dean who handed down the punishment suggested to my daughter that she should drop this class if she believes she is being unfairly singled out by the teacher. This is the second school official to tell her this. Doesn’t she have the right to protect her transcripts that have already been sent to colleges (by not dropping out). Several issues here seem like a violation of her civil rights. am I right ? I have spoken to school officials who say this is how they handle these situations. what can I do?

The following is my response:

If your daughter is receiving the treatment that you described it is bordering child abuse, and according to the United Nations it is definitely corporal punishment. It is too bad that situations like this have to occur in order to bring light to the situation, but this country is too big and its schools are too big to bring light to every injustice at once. That said, the unfortunate reality is that long ago courts decided that schools operate in loco parentis, meaning that when you’re not there they can act as parents. Furthermore, in 22 states schools retain the right to physically punish students at their own discretion and without consent of parents. The Supreme Court has continuously ruled that schools retain the right to limit the civil liberties of students in – and out – of schools. However, as your daughter’s scenario shows, school discipline is generally in a pathetic situation, and one that we, as parents, should not and cannot continue to allow.

There are alternatives to the ways that schools treat students, including methods teachers and administrators can use to actually teach students. In big cities and small towns across the country, parents and students and teachers and school board members are actually doing good through student discipline. Not all programs are radical; some are subtle changes, and some are just wrong. But the common thread is that things are changing.

In your daughter’s particular circumstance I’m not able to say what the next best steps are. I would encourage you to remember this: Schools are instruments in a democracy, and democracy CAN create change in schools. This requires you, as a parent and school community member, to DO something. If you have attempted to discuss this situation with your school’s principal and other administration, and they have not responded, I would suggest that you attempt to identify the person in your local school district office who is responsible for discipline – every district has one. If that person is not responsive, then contact your district superintendent. If you do not get an answer to your satisfaction from that person, then I suggest that you contact your local school board member. That person is elected by the public to represent the public’s interest in schools. If that person fails to answer your questions or meet your needs, you have several routes to take: There is a state-level official in every state in the nation who has the job of answering these types of concerns from parents. They may be an ombudsman or a state education agency official – but regardless of where they are, they are ultimately accountable to YOU as a parent. Their bosses are either a “chief state school officer” or the governor. Every state also has a state board of education that is generally elected by the public and generally accountable to the public.

If all those steps fail then you MUST run for school board and change this policy from the inside. The end run is that may be your only choice – to use the instruments of democracy to change a democratic institution. Good luck.

I don’t know if this was the best response – but it is what I know and believe: Public schools are not going to behave more democratically until the public demands they behave more democratically. We – parents, students, concerned community members – have allowed them to be autocratic, dictatorial institutions for too long, and we must hold them accountable for that. Transparency: I am not blameless here. I work in a public agency and am responsible for including students, parents and concerned community members in my work, and I have not been particularly successful in each of those categories thus far. I know how challenging this is; however, it does not let us off the hook.

As usual, let me know what you think.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Not Adultism – Corporal Punishment

Spanking, slapping, smacking, pulling ears, pinching, shaking…

Hitting with rulers, belts, wooden spoons, extension cords, slippers, hairbrushes, pins, sticks, whips, rubber hoses, flyswatters, wire hangers, stones, bats, canes, or paddles…

Being forced to stand for a long period; hold an uncomfortable position; stand motionless; kneel on rice, corn, floor grates, pencils or stones; retain body wastes; perform strenuous exersize; or ingest soap, hot sauce, or lemon juice…

This is not adultism – its corporal punishment. In my experience I have heard a lot of people misuse the term adultism, applying it to any instant where children or youth have been discriminated against because of their age. It is true that because children and youth are young they are routinely subjected to physical punishment – but in this case, adultism is a root among many, and the brutal weed that grows is child abuse in the form of corporal punishment. I think its important to call a dog a dog – and that is what physically, mentally, or emotionally abusing children in the name of discipline or punishment is. Not adultism – corporal punishment.

Read my review of Eliminating Corporal Punishment here.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Home Alone and Social Change

What does staying home alone have to do with young people changing the world?

In today’s New York Times there is an article that proposes that anywhere between ages 11 and 14 is okay. The author acknowledges that 7, 8 and 9 year-olds stay home alone in working class homes, but doesn’t hesitate to add a “poo-poo” from an upscale New Yorker who thinks that an 11 year-old staying home with their younger siblings is terrible. At the middle of this article is the assumption that these conversations are best held without the people directly affected. If they are involved, the opinions of children and youth need to be vetted by parents.

In my experience, this is often the reasoning in the minds of youth workers and teachers when they share the same space as young people: “I am the best person to make decisions for kids, and if they tell me their thoughts I need to decide what to pay attention to, not them.” I know this because I am a dad, and I have considered these concerns. On the other hand, I have gone through the Cycle of Engagement with children and youth, including my own daughter. She and I have a great time, usually, doing the activities that she determines she needs to, and that I support her in doing.

So what can young people do when they do not feel supported? How can adults show their support and their judgment at the same time? Is it either/or, or with/and? What are other important questions that need to be thought about here?

 


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Parenting a Free Child

There is no such thing as a “free child.” This myth has been carefully spread over the last forty years by authors and speakers and all kinds of people that I have admired for a lot of reasons – but not this one. The ideal of the “free child” seems to be the ultimately anarchistic young person, able to reason and reckon on their own without influence or guidance from adults, from society and from all other people. While that seems like a radical vision, its nothing less than what Ivan Illich proposed in Deschooling Society, or even John Holt in Escape from Childhood. Apparently frustrated by The Freechild Project’s usage of the word, an author named Rue Kreame wrote a book in 2005 called Parenting a Free Child in which she laid out the pathway that parents could follow for raising so-called “free” children.

There is no simple reality involved here. Part of the issue was captured in the 1600s by a poet named John Donne that wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main… any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind… (Meditation XXVII.) The basic premise of that idea is that we’re all interdependent, tied together in a convenient reality that allows us to coexist on this small planet. That same idea was built on by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose 1963 book Strength to Love expanded on the idea:

We are everlasting debtors to known and unknown men and women…. When we arise in the morning, we go into the bathroom where we reach for a sponge provided for us by a Pacific Islander. We reach for soap that is created for us by a Frenchman. The towel is provided by a Turk. Then at the table we drink coffee which is provided for us by a South American, or tea by a Chinese, or cocoa by a West African. Before we leave for our jobs, we are beholden to more than half the world.

That a child or youth could grow up devoid of influence from even the most “evil” source (which is the implication in a lot of this literature), including television, marketing, and governmental “control,” is simply unrealistic. We are all influenced by everything around us. Even by refusing to partake in popular society or mass consumption or any other form of personal/social/moral protest, we are reacting to those influences, thereby allowing them to influence us.

I can’t entertain the idea of the “free child” in a serious way because I don’t see it as a serious undertaking. I am a member of an extremely large and intertwined global community who cannot disconnect from that community. Sure, I can go climb in the Olympics and “get away from it all,” but even then I’m still in touch with my society. In that same way students attending alternative schools are still affected by mainstream schooling; youth enjoined in forums and councils where their voices are heard are still affected by youth discrimination, and; adults who want to ally with youth are still practicing adultism. Its the derelict truth of the world we live in, whether we like it or not.

That said, we do have opportunities to resist consumerism and challenge militarization and combat ignorance. We can work with young people to struggle for social justice and against youth segregation and for community. My ideal is more closely related to King’s vision of interdependence and connectivity, as the folks involved in the sustainability movement often pronounce. I know that we have to work together for that reality, rather than an escapist vision of an alternate reality in which humanity is displaced by individualistic selfishness, which is inherently bound up in anarchism and disconnection.

By the way, as many of you know, this isn’t just empty rhetoric for me. I have honestly sacrificed some potentially interesting connections throughout my work, even alienating friends at times because of my insistence on staying ingrained in the communities to which I belong. This is more important than ever for me, as my daughter is getting close to school age, and where this pathway of decision-making becomes life-altering for her, as well. We all have to make sacrifices, and this is the right reason to.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Adultism in Parenting: The Terrible Twos

The so-called “Terrible Twos” are a myth.

A Drunken Postmaster

Supposedly coined by a drunken postmaster in the 1800s, the phrase has become ubiquitous among new parents everywhere I hear anyone talking about children. I have raised a child through them and participated in the upbringing of a number of nieces and nephews, and every adult in my circle agrees that the so-called “Terrible Twos” are simply not real. Now, there are many terrible days when you are raising small children, days that are filled with excrement and urine and vomit, and I am under now misunderstanding those days are terrible. So are the days when my daughter, who is four, demonstrates her strong will beyond anything acceptable by adults. But there is no such thing as the Terrible Twos.

Adultism Expressed

WHY do I bring that up here? I believe that the labeling of the Terrible Twos are the near beginning of the lifelong scheme each of us face throughout our childhood, into our youth, and as young adults. That scheme is adultism. Meant to describe any bias towards adults and against youth, adultism casts a wide net over the hypocrisy and alienating practices in schools today. I firmly believe that no child should agree with everything a parent tells them, and because of that we should expect resistance. That resistence is often labelled “terrible twos”; unfortunately, the only thing terrible about it is the discrimination inherent in the label.

Moving Forward

Let’s move past our own adultism and embrace the new roles of children in our society. Instead of seeing screaming and yelling as resistence, let’s hear them as voices. Not all voices are comfortable or easy, and not all voices are easily pacified or understood. However, all voices should be heard. Among two year olds we should hear them as a child’s indication that they have a want or a need to be interpreted by adults – that’s our jobs. From there we can move forward.

3 Steps

Here are three steps we can all follow to move past our own adultism:

  1. Acknowledge Your Adultism. All parents are biased towards adults. We go to adults for advice on childraising, we learn how to change diapers from adults and we have many things for our kids that were made by adults for children. All parents are biased towards adults.
  2. Confront Your Own Injustice. If adultism in your parenting seems unjust to you, confront yourself. Check your bad behavior or attitudes. Watch your language and see your biases. When you address your own adultism, you will be a more effective ally to your own children. Discover new ways of being with your own children.
  3. Check Others. Don’t allow adultism among parents to go unchecked. Instead, call out others’ bad behaviors, wrong attitudes, unfair language and discrimination against their own children. Help them learn new ways of being that aren’t adultist.

After you’ve taken those steps, you’ll be farther ahead than the vast majority of people in our society, especially parents. That’s a place to start.