APSGO Parenting Blog

There is a truth which is not acknowledged by those who are in authority over others and who live ‘by the book’ and that is that rules are intended to establish conformity. What is the appeal of conformity and why would anyone want to maintain it?

While conformity can be comforting, particularly to ado-lescents, where it provides a sense of belonging, this is true only if it is self-imposed. It is very different when rules are imposed externally by parents or teachers who mistakenly see it as a way of gaining a greater degree of control over children.

Consider the determination with which some parents and schools hold on to the rules and rigidly apply them. They believe that rules allow them to rein in errant youth. In truth, anyone who feels held back by rules simply become more creative in circumventing them, and parents and educators waste valuable time punishing these offenders.

Here is an inconvenient truth for anyone who puts his faith in rules: rules stifle the kind of creativity which allows students and employees to blossom and do their best work. Instead, youth and workers will either ignore the rules entirely or at best do just enough to get by.

What would be the worst that could happen if, instead of parceling out precious time for homework, chores and ‘family time,’ students and employees were told, ”Do the best work that you can and strive to be the best person, student or employee that you can be.”

Could the results be any worse than what we have now with youth giving up on school and workers goofing off or stressing out at work?

Can we get over our faith in conformity and the negative creativity which goes with it and allow our youth, employees and volunteers to benefit from a supportive environment which benefits all of us? As parents, we want our children to do their best work and to succeed in life. To increase the odds of this happening, we have to be prepared to set aside our faith in rules and replace it with faith in our children.

by Helen Jones, from APSGO News, Fall 2008

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Association of Parent Support Groups in Ontario (APSGO)