Seen and Not Heard

We all get confusing messages growing up. I grew up in the 1970s and was raised on Sesame Street and Anti-Coloring Books and tofu. It was great. But there were also messages from my parents’ postwar upbringing that found their way into our home. More conservative lessons. One such lesson was, “Children are to be seen and not heard.”

What a crazy lesson! It teaches you to keep quiet and be compliant and that if you do speak up, you are breaking the rules!

So we learn that keeping quiet is the safe way to go. If you don’t speak up, then you don’t get criticised. Then you don’t get judged. Easy Breezy.

Speaking up is harder. And there are painful consequences.

What a waste of energy it is to have to sort it all out. How much emotional labor do we spend on keeping quiet or beating ourselves up when we don’t? And I wonder why it is that these lessons are absorbed by some children and not other children? Who grows up thinking that speaking up is a good thing and who grows up thinking that it’s wrong? And what are the consequences of that?