I also believe that parents should play a role in helping their child make decisions and that they should view their child as a partner in this regard.In the comment section of that post, Anonymous challenged my idea that children could or should ever be viewed as partners with their parents, suggesting that parents' roles in their children's lives should be that of "bosses" who make decisions for children because they are not capable of doing so on their own until adulthood (which I read to mean legal adulthood, suggested by this commenter in another comment that was not posted due to its tangential nature, to mean 18 years of age).
Raising kids by being their "friend" results in horrible, maladjusted kids with a lot of selfishness and problems.First of all, nowhere in that post did I suggest that parents should act as their children's friends. I do not even suggest that children should be viewed as completely equal partners with their parents. All I meant to suggest was that children should be viewed as more than objects to be controlled by their parents. I'll expand on that idea here.
I'd like to clarify that I do not have any children. However, I have experienced a type of parenting that I would not want to replicate if I ever had the desire to raise children of my own. In the middle class, white American culture I grew up in, there is an overarching idea that children have little capacity for personhood. They are treated like objects or pets that should be, in essence, ruled over by parents who always know what was best for their children, without question. Children's opinions and desires do not matter because of their age. In effect, children are lesser people, if they can even be considered people at all.
I have a huge problem with conceptualizing children in the same manner as one might think of a pet. I do not believe this mindset is healthy for the parent or the child. It has the potential to create dependence in children that may make it difficult for them to take on "adult" responsibilities once they reach legal adulthood and it presents a way for parents to place on their children an unfair burden - the responsibility of making their parents feel useful. When the roles of parents and children change as children grow up, it cane be difficult on everyone.
I believe that this idea that children just are not capable of doing certain things is, largely, due to socialization. If parents treat children as if they are incapable of making any decisions at all (as opposed to only life-altering ones), children will not have to rise to the occasion and will fill their parents' low expectations. If parents expected more out of their children and viewed them as capable of doing more, I think a lot of people would be surprised by how much children are capable of.
I also want to stress my belief in parents' roles in helping oversee their children's decisions and helping them navigate the world while teaching and disciplining when necessary. However, allowing children appropriate amounts of control over aspects of their lives is important because no person, small or not, should be ruled by someone else who denies them the opporunity to exercise any amount of power over their lives.
This acknowledgement of a child's personhood throughout life (as opposed to waiting until a child reaches some arbitrary age) could easily create more independent children who are better equipped to handle "adult" situations and responsibilities without doubting themselves. Treating children as smaller people could also easily create within the minds of children reasonable expectations of respect. When they are not used to thinking of themselves of subjects under their parents' rule, it might be easier for them to fight for their rights and perhaps even those of others when they finally leave the nest.