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Memoirs from a Mother

What is this new trend of marital arts classes for children? I’m not talking about 8 and 9 year olds, but 4 and 5 year olds. When did childhood get so serious? What are parents trying to accomplish? And at what expense?

I’ve heard all the reasons: the classes will teach my child respect and discipline. They’ll be able to defend themselves…but I think these reasons beg more questions.

For instance: Shouldn’t teaching respect be a parent’s responsibility? Especially when the children are as young as four and five. If the children aren’t respectful to others, especially their parents at that age I don’t think it’s the kids that need to be sent to a class to learn something.

AND I don’t think respect should be taught through fear and blind obedience demanded by a man or woman who thinks they have earned it by kicking a lot of butt.

Respect isn’t about blind obedience. It’s about love. It’s when we love and respect our children, everyone around us and especially ourselves that our children learn it. We can expect it from them but it must also be earned. Sending our children out to “learn” respect is a scary thought to me. It makes me wonder what we are really teaching them.

To defend themselves? From what? My son, (at the time I wrote this) is 4 years old. He shouldn’t have to defend himself! If anyone at his daycare were to threaten or hurt him in any way I can guarantee it would never happen again. Anywhere else, I will be there with him because right now as a parent it is my job to protect him.

I’ll be honest. I actually bought into a lot of the arguments. I know how much my son loves to pretend to do karate and I thought how great it would be if he really could learn it. Well, I did think that until the night when a self defense teacher, while at dinner at our friend’s house, took it upon himself to instruct my son in some basic techniques. My son saw it as great fun, and I didn’t see any harm, until he started to criticize my son’s “play fighting” moves. “Don’t ever kick, I just broke your foot like this, see?” “Don’t do that I just broke your arm, like this” and on and on he went. As you can imagine, I put a stop to it right then and there.

You see, I didn’t want my son to learn that his twirling kick can’t subdue the most horrendous monsters. I don’t want him to know that his judo chop to the head wouldn’t stop any “bad guy” in his tracks. I want him to think he is the strongest most amazing kid in the world. He’s FOUR YEARS OLD of course he is.

This is where self-esteem comes from. Not because he can deflect a jab, but because he can slay dragons.

There is enough time for the realization that the good guys don’t always win, daddy isn’t the strongest man in the world and that even if there were dragons, his battery operated sword probably wouldn’t kill them. But not at four years old.

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