Step Away from Old Victorian Era Parenting, Please!

Wow, as we move deeper in to the 21st century, we need to redesign the way we raise children. The old outdated Victorian Age social behaviours are failing us by stunting a child’s growth rather than expanding their potentials. Old Victorian Era morals stretched in to our modern day without much notice. Perhaps that is what the hippie generation was trying to get out of, yet many of them started to revert back to the old methods once they had children and settled in to long time jobs.

“My parents did it, so it must be good”. Not really. Did it make you feel good, good enough?

During the time of Victorian moral creation, it was designed as a step-up in to ‘humanity’, being civil, acting “proper’, with very strict, rigid conventions to try to guarantee compliance.

Victorian Morality

The Victorian Era began possibly at the passage of the Reform Act 1832, and took its name from Queen Victoria. The Victorian era was the age of progress, stability and great social reforms but at the same time was characterized by poverty, injustice and social unrest. There was a blind side to other people who did not have a level of financial stability, and class social orders arose.

Victorianism refers to the study of late-Victorian attitudes and culture with a focus on the highly moralistic, strait laced language and behavior. The actual age lasted until the beginning of the 20th century and yet people still blindly use the moral codes out today without thinking about the outcomes.

This era enforced obedience to a strict code of morality; you must conform, to such an extent as not to annoy and give offense, to the customs, whether in dress or other matters, of the circle in which you move. They promoted a code of values based on personal duty, hard work, respectability and charity. Similar to the American Dream, the idea is that, if they work hard enough, all men can become wealthy. Men, not women yet.

These values were of equal application to all strata of society, but were given their essential Victorian form by the upper or middle classes. The idea of respectability distinguished the middle from the lower class. Respectability was a mixture of morality, hypocrisy and conformity to social standards; a person had to be in possession of good manners, ownership of a comfortable house with servants and a carriage (car), regular attendance at church, and charitable activity.

Victorian family life, the father represented the authority and women had the key role regarding the education of children and the managing of the house. The women were in charge of all manner of the household. Sexuality was generally repressed and prudery was in its most extreme manifestations. This led to the denunciation of nudity in art and the rejection of words with sexual connotation from everyday vocabulary.

<-Brook Street ragged school, The Work Room

The rigid moral strata gave way to many inequities. Children were slaves and as young as 4 years old, were put to work in the coal mines and few children were able to go to school.

Poverty grew as the birth rate rose giving more laborers to the workforce so companies lowered the wages. This made it very hard to live. Prostitution grew with young people as a way to feed families. Many lower class people worked as servants to the middle and upper class.

Patriotism was deeply influenced by ideas of racial superiority. The British had the conviction that the races of the world were divided by physical and intellectual differences, that some were destined to be led by others.

Today we are seeing this is not true, that anyone has potential to be leaders and intelligent once given a chance. When a human has enough to eat, a good night sleep and education of their interests, they flourish.

Bringing Up Your Child with Intelligence & Love

Today, children are still viewed a “property”, and not a human beings, a moral viewpoint of Victorianism. They tend to be treated as adults; they are not viewed as young growing people with certain abilities at their developmental ages. They were treated like ‘they should know things already’ and because they did not, they must be bad.

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” ~  Dr. Seuss

If they do not obey right away, they are beaten and screamed at. The old “spare the rod” is said to mean that if you do not punish a child when it does something wrong, she/he will not learn what is right.

This ignorance is still in practice in our day and age of intelligence. It does not work. A parent need to teach and reteach a child what is right for them to act right.

Spanking creates fear and loathing, and at extremes, psychotic children that never have a real chance at life. Spanking once or twice might not turn a child to becoming crazy, but regularity will.

It teaches a child to fear their caregivers and as such the fear nearly everyone.

Spanking teaches a child to hit to get their needs met and when they are adults that violence is needed for everyday life. They may hit their spouses, children, pets and anyone who gets in their way.

Spanking also plummets a child’s view of their worth to their own parents and they might work their whole life trying to please them. It actually damages their ability to learn, stunts their intelligence by shifting their mind to safety issues, emotional brooding and lack of motivation to learn (for they probably will do it wrong and get spanked).

Power of Nurturing with Love

The research and study of creating successful people shows us that when we nurture children from birth in love, understanding, and kindness, they are more intelligence, confidence and able to become successful adults.

Taking the time to explain to a child, to show and even engage them in activities is a natural way to nurture your childs growth, assisting them to gain skills which make them feel part of the family. This is how we do it…

Reading to infants, toddlers  and preschoolers has shown a great improvement in abilities when they go to school. They perform at higher levels than their peers who were not read to. Vocabulary and context helps these young people to adjust faster in our world.

“Hugs can do great amounts of good, especially for children.” ~ Diana, Princess of Wales

When a parent plays with their children, there is so much that they can learn in a great context of fun. A child is eager to follow the parents guidance when the parent spends quality time. They sense this “whats next, papa, mama!” excitement. They are part of your team!

As parents, we have the ability to see what works with our children, for no two children are alike, even within the family. What works for one may not work for another. So all the rules and structure we find in our society need to be flexible and user-friendly.

A parent needs to be creative and thoughtful. Consequences need to match the event so that something of value is gained. Spanking is not a consequence, it is a torture. It matches no skill other than this is how to become a bully when you grow up.

Time-out is a stop-action point and allows the child to calm down. This “Sit over there and be still” works for specific times when a child is over excited and stop what they are doing. Used all the time it becomes ‘useless’. Used in the right situations, it allows the child to review their own actions.

“Go to your room” is similar although a child will end up playing or sleeping in their room so it can be used to shift them out of a mood, or behavior. “Go clean up your room” is another way to shift the activity to something productive. Giving children responsibility is a huge part of raising them and building their skill sets. When they are done, take time to go and wander around, noting all the things they took the effort to fix and clean. Tell them how nice! Compliments, remember praise works!

If they are not doing a good job, it is time to get on the floor with them and talk about how to sort toys and organise their stuff, maybe by placing them in groups on certain shelves.

All this needs patience, as I did this with my son for three years, nearly each time he had to clean up. We started when he was 2 years old. Now as a young adult, his room is very orderly, clean and he loves to organise. Why? I made it fun and interesting. Where do you want all your army guys to be, next to your super heros? I made him think and gave words to everything we did. I am pleased with the outcome, although at the time, I really doubted he would ever do it on his own. He took to it, naturally. It is his “stuff”.

Redirection is a way to take very young children away from something you do no wish for them to do to something they can do. It also allows you to be an adult-in-charge without yelling. When a child is doing something they should not be, a caregiver simply walks over to take them by the hand and lead them to a different activity. Lead them towards something good and fun, so that instead of needing to tell them they are doing wrong all the time, you now can show they and tell them they are doing something good. This also reinforces self worth in the child.

“Amy, let’s go play over here” instead of “STAY AWAY FROM THAT, how many times do I need to say it!” No need for parents to get so upset. Children have a learning curve and it is the parents duty to teach. Parents are their first teachers!

Yelling parents are boring. Really. When a parent yells for everything, the child develops coping skills in different directions.

Mostly this means > they ignore you < and perhaps all the time.

This is a dangerous situation for a parent for when they wish for a child to jump away from being hurt, the child usually does not as they have tuned out the parents voice completely. Use yelling sparingly.

Sometimes whispering is a creative outlet that the child will respond to, try it! Or making some stuffed animal talk to them in a different voice! Works! They laugh and maybe will do as they are told. Be creative and playful, then you have their attention. Even Sing to them your marching orders, and even have them sing back, no talking! Fun is the heart of children and the open door to creating growth in positive ways.

Patience is key for all parents and guardians. Pay attention to the details. It is not just about hearing your child cry and responding, but to find out what started it, why they are crying (for the child sometimes does not know) and to use a calm attitude to teach the child about their own experience.

Perhaps a parent has told their child to stay away from the dog.

The child persists and the dog bites the child after putting up with his tail being pulled all the time.It is not a bad bite, just a warning and the child runs crying.

The child now has new information on “why” mom and dad, or grandpa kept telling him not to pull the tail. In a situation like this, a calm loving voice is needed, and tending to the bite. If the child can talk, ask him what happened, make him tell the story; for in this the child hears that he did something wrong to the dog and the dog bites when his tail is pulled. The lesson is learned already. Your child may surprise you on how much they understand, or they may really need your help in understanding what happened so they might choose better next time.

Yelling or lecturing a child after a “cause and effect experience” may not really be needed. Let the child tell the story, and as parent, you fill it in with wisdom. Make it a lovely lesson for the child to fully understand. For that is what all children want, to fully understand why parents tell them this or that. Why! Dogs hurt when you pull their tail. Your head hurts of someone pulls your hair. Pain. All wonderful understanding of which a child can build upon. When a child understands the consequences of his action, he can choose to do something different.

Children grow very fast. Researching Child Developmental Stages will greatly assist you on how are able to work with your child at each step. This is all scientifically designed through the study of families. We have this knowledge and there are so many resources to parents these days, well researched, and well-practiced by many successful parents.

Empathy is key, and the ability to listen. Sometimes that is all that is needed.

There does not need to be any hitting or spanking if a parent is paying attention, approaches with patience and is clever. No one book can tell parents how to do it right.

To do it (close to) right a parent must feel in their heart what they feel and what their child might feel, then think about what can be learned from this and how to lead the child out of their predicament.

The true way children learn from parents and guardians is through example. What a parents does is what the child will try to do. Parents modeling the behavior they wish for the child to also do, will have the greatest results.

By the time the child is seven years old, he has learned a foundation for all other learning. If he was hit and yelled at, this is how he probably will view life, as a fight for survival. If she was nurtured and loved, guided through lessons, she will find great strength and value in her life.

Of course all the variations in between for there is “no perfect parenting”! Any idea of being the perfect parent is way too stressful for an adult, so drop that! Relax and be yourself.

Children love us deeply and forgive all our goofy qualities, bad calls and other imperfections. It allows a child to also know it is OK to make mistakes.

But if we are mean and short with our children all the time, forget being in their life when they get to be adults. It is natural to seek goodness in our daily lives. It is natural to avoid that which makes us feel bad.

If you feel mean al the time, go get some help and find out why. Attitudes can be changed with knowledge. Get more hugs!

Guardians of the Future

Yet as easy as that may sound, it is not.

As a parent, you will always be challenged, boundaries will be pushed and just when it gets calm and in order, the next moment it will not.

A parent that hugs and listens is the most valuable parent in the world. A parent needs to understand that children are going to make mistakes often and are just learning to be a human. They need their parents and guardians to show them the path to having a good life.

A parent and guardian role is one of patience. The role is about seeing their children grow through so many experiences no matter what flavor. Enjoy their growth spurts, their tantrums, their “melting you with their unconditional love” moments and all of it. For they become young adults all too fast.

The Old Victorian morals of strict compliance, no longer apply in our 21st century. Those morals were a nice foundation at the time period as they were birthed for the evolving civilization.

Yet many of own parents and guardians were too strict, mean, and did not think about how they raised their children. They just did as their parents did. Their parents beat their children without explanations. Disgraced children by naming faults instead of achievements. There were never enough explanations to WHY something needed to be different. There was hardly any encouragement for children as they were taught to be afraid they would spoil the child.

The Victorian era is over and their outdated parenting approaches plague our world with lack of love and patience. Even the American Dream is too focused in one small area of life; work, how a person complies.

Creativity was said to be a waste of time. Yet it is through creativity that computers came in to being. Dreaming brought forth televisions and telephones, and even now mobile phones!

Now that technology has been relieving people from work, we now can focus on arts, music, inventions and other ways to express our innate creativity.

We are finding ways to change our world so that fewer people need to work and that more people can develop in to their highest potentials. As a child, play is the doorway to creativity. Without play, the process of creativity might be restricted.

More people can now find education in many fields that once were restricted in some way. Men and women can now work in the same fields and develop the next generations miracles.

The old Victorian idea that babies were empty-headed and stupid was wrong, and very much the opposite. Toddlers can learn two languages very easily and they put each language in their own ‘folder’ within their mind. It is natural.

They can learn music, math and so many other areas of education when it is engaged more in play. Try not to lecture a very young child as they will not respond to that like adults do. Through playfulness, a child can learn so much more and will love learning.

“Every child you encounter is a divine appointment.” ~ Wess Stafford, President Emeritus of Compassion International

With our present wealth of world-wide organizations that help children and teens to excel, parents and guardians have great resources to choose from. Use them.

Get your children involved in projects they like. Working with others, in teams, or in projects are a great source of education, etiquette, and building self esteem and friends!

We already have excellent tools to help our children to become their own expression of greatness in our own century.

Parents also have a great wealth of resources to assist their creative endeavors to raise their child happy and healthy. Use them!

People on earth are always changing and in this age of information; people are changing fast. Let us drop old antiquated social orders and allow more organic ways to bloom. There is no need for so much force.

When we create positive environments, everything can bloom, including our young human sprouts!

~ Carolyn Thompson

Copyright © 2015-2025 Carolyn Thompson; All rights reserved.

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