There’s this consequence of respectful parenting that finds some parents in a difficult spot; children who develop in a respectful environment become less compatible with mainstream compulsory schooling. You see, when you honour somebody’s autonomy and worth, they of course also come to value it. And when somebody has a strong sense of self, it is much harder to acclimatise to the arbitrary conditions of compulsory schooling that do not appreciate that.
Mainstream compulsory schooling is at best authoritative and at worst authoritarian. I mean firstly, you have to be there. Then there is the part where you have to be doing what you are told to be doing. And let’s not forget, there is a whole ream of rules from what to wear to what you can bring to eat and also expectations such as to what medium you will write in and where you begin the letter “a”. And when you do not abide? Oh yeah, there’s punitive consequences from “failing” to being detained. Yeah, status checks out.
A child who has lived in an authoritarian environment can be compliant because the alternative usually involves the situation becoming unsafe for them (physical or verbal or emotional abuse under the guise of punishment). Or they rebel because they’re seen as a problem either way and life generally just consistently sucks for them so what’s the point? It really is a rock and a hard place when you have to decide between avoiding parental abuse by abusing yourself (living against your internal ideals) or avoid abusing yourself at the consequence of parental abuse.
I should warn though that when you devalue a person so much, they can become ambivalent towards existing (I mean, I suppose you could bring the threat of hell into the equation) so it can help to balance your fear based tactics with some rewards and incentives. Just keep in mind that this approach can be a fairly high risk, high “reward” scenario, how much are you willing to pay for the power of fear? Well, how much are you willing to let your child pay might be more accurate.
A child who has lived in an authoritative environment, is conditioned to believe they are controlled externally “for their own good”. They accept school under this same premise. It has been communicated many times in many ways that adults are the ones who make the decisions (even about and for you) because you cannot be trusted so that even if the child doesn’t necessarily agree, they are afraid to object. They become compliant not because they understand the value of the choice but because their trust in their own perspective has been undermined (hmm, sounds a lot like gas-lighting doesn’t it?).
This isn’t exactly intentionally manipulative; parents genuinely believe this version of “truth” mostly because it is also the one they grew up with. And in the end, you know, who really cares to consider what motivates a child to be obedient as long as they remain convenient right? These children are generally speaking, pretty damn convenient for school. They tend to adjust well as it is a continuation and reinforcement of their prior experience and they can actually believe you’re doing them a favour (at least in the short term) because you’ve conditioned them with a cocktail that combines “I love you so of course I’m doing what’s best for you” with a heavy dose of “you can’t trust your own instincts and capabilities anyway so my control is justified”.
Children are not resilient; they are adaptive. In other words, they don’t simply ‘bounce-back’: they re-shape themselves. — Robin Grille
A child who has lived in a respectful environment? Yeah, it’s going to be hard to reconcile the reality they live at home where they are autonomous and trusted with the one that they are required to endure at school. It doesn’t feel right or fair or okay; one might even say a child resisting schooled control is showing signs of healthy self worth.
This was me. And school was very difficult. I have so much respect and admiration and love for my parents but yes, school was very difficult for me, I didn’t ever quite fit and I didn’t want to. For the longest time, I questioned if it was perhaps a fault within me that caused my struggles, looking around observing other’s blissful ignorance. But I now understand it was a strength to resist; people around me were not assessing the situation as valid, they weren’t asking the same questions, they didn’t even realise they could.
Some of our children, it turns out, are more like pigeons and squirrels, and some are more like bears. Some of them adapt to the institutional walls we put around them, and some of them pace till their paws bleed. — Carol Black
But perhaps the reality is far more sinister than this quote first appears; how well a child adjusts to a cage seems to come down to how effectively you’ve conditioned them to forget their humanity.