Re[2]: DSM: playing school rules

David Rovner (
Wed, 31 Jan 2001 11:20:23 +0200

It's really sad to hear again and again
similar stories of lack of choice, harm,
and "quirks" of personality -- because
of the still "male-dominated patriarchal"
structure of the family in our society.

Allow me to quote Daniel Greenberg on the subject:
. . .
    I want to say a few final words about the role of a person age four and up in the
family. I've assumed that a child up age four is the object of care and attention, as is
due to a developing member of the family. It seems to me fairly obvious that once
children have reached the age of four or five they become adults to all intents and
purposes and can take a full role in the family, a full share of the family responsibilities.
Now what their share will be depends on any given family, but they have every right
and expectation to be treated just like everybody else. That means, on the one hand,
they have got to carry their weight and find ways to contribute to doing the family
cores, and on the other hand they have got to be given all the consideration that all
the other members of the family are given in serious decision making. The part about
carrying their weight is not really very difficult to conceive, because in rural families
and in other cultures this takes place all the time. It is fairly common that youths age
five or six draw the water and feed the animals and milk the cows. There is absolutely
no reason why they can't do normal things about the house; it doesn't mean they
have to be able to do everything. It doesn't mean they have to be able to cook, for
example, -- after all, in most families not all the adults can cook. Nobody says that all
members of a family have to be interchangeable parts. But t is clear to me that once
children have reached the age of judgment, there has to be some way for them to
carry their weight. The other side of that coin is something that is harder to conceive
in our society -- namely, that the same child has to have a full voice in the decision
making in the family. That is extremely difficult to carry out in our male-dominated
patriarchal society where usually the only person who really makes decisions in the
family is the father, and ninety-nine times out of a hundred he doesn't even consider
the opinion of his wife, let alone his children. Even in families where both spouses
share decision making, it is very rare to find the children consulted on major
decisions. I find this state of affairs to be a complete anachronism and I do not see
how it can maintain itself much longer.

    Another consequence of this view is that children in principle ought to have the
same mobility that the adult members of the family have. We restrict the mobility of
children all the time in our society. The idea that children can regulate their time and
their mobility like adults is one that we are going to have to learn to accept. I think that
the realization that children are full-fledged members of the family is going to come
soon after the realization that the woman is full-fledged members of the family. In this
respect, women are going to do a lot of work for children. The major thing to break is
the adult male dominance in the home. To be sure, once you break that, it doesn't
automatically follow that children are going to get a full share, but at least it is going
to be a lot easier for other legitimate contenders to stake their claims. I think we will
see more and more families in which the adults have equal voices in the decision
making, and we will see many such families accommodate themselves in giving the
children a full voice in family affairs more frequently than families in which the male is

     I a sense this has been an anomalous chapter in a book on childrearing, with the
message that from about age four and up you have simply got to treat children as
adults and stop treating them as "children." There should be no distinction between
your fundamental attitude toward a family member five years old and one thirty five
years old.

("Ages Four and Up", CHILD REARING, by Daniel Greenberg, 1987, p. 125-127)

David Rovner <>

---------- Original Message ----------

From: "Alan Klein" <>
To: <>
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 19:41:41 -0500
Subject: Re: DSM: playing school rules

In a message dated 1/30/01 19:41:41 - 0500
"Alan Klein" <> writes:

>While I agree that there is always a choice (barring extreme coercion or
>impoverishment), the existence of a choice doesn't always equate to HAVING a
>choice in reality. There are many forces that impinge on a kid's ability to
>act on the choices that exist for them.

>I am reminded of a kid I student-taught in an alternative public school
>classroom as a fourth grader. While the class by no means lived up to the
>standards to which we would hold a democratic school, it was (in its
>context) the best place for kids in the Ann Arbor public school system (in,
>of course, my opinion). This particular fourth grade boy was very
>successful, by almost all measures in this mixed fourth through sixth grade
>class. His father, however, was a traditionalist and was not happy with the
>"child-centered" philosophy of the classroom. In addition, his older son was
>quite the extravert while the younger one was much more introverted. In
>fact, he and I worked a lot on his sense of self-worth throughout the year.
>My sense (and his) was that he was making excellent progress in this area.
>His father, however, was not convinced and placed him in a very
>traditionally structured class the following year.

>I had many occasions to chat with this young man throughout the succeeding
>three years as he made his way through the traditional classrooms in the
>school. What dismayed me most was his "swallowing" of his father's opinions
>of his abilities and his self-worth. He maintained (despite much "objective"
>and subjective evidence to the contrary) that he "needed" the structure of
>the traditional classrooms in order to be academically successful. My sense
>is that, psychologically, he could not take a different stance than his
>father took. So, while "choice" was there, it was ephemeral, at best.

>Melissa wrote:
>> There's always a choice.
>> >Responding to Anna, who said:
>> >
>> >There are many kids who accept public school as the part of their world,
>> >inevitable and obligatuary part of their lives. That's the lie of the
>> >public school supported by teachers, parents and the state. It's kind of
>> >madness which children catch from adults.
>> >
>> >Your child understands that she has a choice. It's the best thing.

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