Equal Dignity

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This month I have been thinking a lot about ‘equal dignity’ that we talked a about in the parenting workshops. I think it has become my favourite phrase. ‘Equal dignity’ does not mean that your children and you are equal, it just means that you deserve equal respect, and to be taken serious. ‘Equal dignity’ is actually needed in so many other areas of life; health, birth, education. Pretty much anytime the good old institutional hierarchy is at play. Again it doesn’t mean we are all the same, but we still all need to be treated equally respectful and with worth. Changing this system needs to come from our homes though and how we treat our children. Partly so we raise children, who automatically treat others with equal respect and dignity, and so they won’t put up with any other way of relationships, whether that is with their teacher, their children’s teacher, their doctor or their midwife, obstetrician or doula.
If people with authority today took woman’s innate wisdom about their bodies, their babies and children serious, we would have an enormous added resource from where much better solutions could be made, much better suited to the individual. This again, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t listen to a teacher or a doctor, but that mother’s and father’s knowledge is just as valuable. Imagine if a baby was ‘overdue’ and the midwife or doctor was having an appointment with this woman asking her: What do you know about this baby not being born yet? She might say: “Well, he is not due yet in my books”! If that information was taken serious and combined with the medical history and maybe ‘monitoring’ to be realistic, we would already have more babies born when they were ready, we would have less caesarean sections and happier mothers.This is not a new revelation for most of us, but the new thing is that if we think about it as ‘equal dignity’ we can take the power games out of it. It is not about discarding medical opinion, but about dialogue. It is still your body, you have the last word, and the decision are yours.

Another example of this that I hear again and again and have experienced myself too, is with teachers. How often have I heard mothers complain about a teacher that is making a problem out of a child, who is slow to start reading?
It is so difficult to be taken serious, if your wisdom about your child differs from mainstream education processes. Or another mother, who might feel like her daughter actually needs some extra help, because something isn’t quite right, and the teacher just wants to wait. I am not saying teachers should just do what mothers say, but there should be a ‘dialogue’, and the mother’s wisdom of her child, as well as the teachers expertise should be taken serious. The list goes on and on. Anyway, my rant for the month J.  It is food for thought for us as professionals, nearly whatever you do, as parents and as consumers. If we are going to make an impact right now, we will have to enter situations expecting to be treated with equal dignity and not put up with anything less.
I have ten copies of “Raising Competent Children” for sale, explaining about this ‘equal dignity’ in parenting. They are $25 each (plus postage if we can’t meet up). I also have some DVD’s with interviews and case studies with Jesper Juul, who is the Danish Family Therapist and author of the book. Also $25. Send me an email or give me a call in you would like a copy J


  1. Dr Angela Jones


    I recommend this read to all mums and dads interested in finding new ways of relating to their children,

    but as well those who feel the need to find new ideas , great article.

    Angela ,

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Birth Connection is the online presence of Childbirth Educator, Advanced Doula, Birth Story Healer, & Birthing From Within mentor, Pernille Powell. Pernille is based on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.


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