Not too long ago, a friend was amusing themselves at Felicity's expense. As her mom, I was, understandably (internally) not happy, especially since, if you know Felicity, she is very shy and sensitive about such things and if she gets embarrassed, which she can do easily, she will quickly stop everything and hide. Fortunately, at the time, she was eating and didn't give this person a second thought as food came first. If she had understood, I know my Felicity, she would have stopped eating and either cried for me to hold her or tried to hide. Then I would have been vocally upset.
In speaking to someone about the incident, I was reminded that the friend is not used to being around small children and, while such a thing might very well have been met with a less than happy response by an adult, the possibility that a child might be more sensitive may not have occurred to this person. The potential ignorance certainly could make a difference but I wondered about the possibility that this person might never have said anything if Felicity had been an adult. Could it be that this friend felt such a thing could be said simply because she was a child, and a small one at that? Do people treat children in a condescending manner simply because they are children?
There is a children's show on Disney Channel called The Imagination Movers. It is about 4 men musicians who use their imaginations to come up with creative solutions to problems. The general concept is a fun and good one. My great dislike of the show are the actors/musicians who, in my opinion, overact to the camera. They ham it up simply because their audience is children. Children aren't that dense. They pick up pretty quickly on things. Personally, I find it insulting the way they seem to think they need to treat children just to make themselves understood. But, it raised the question for me, does society regard children in a condescending manner?
Personally, I've found that, no matter how small, you don't need to be condescending to children, it can be harmful to be condescending if they understand you are doing so, and your ends may even be met easier and better if you do not condescend. For example, I know sometimes, if I bark an order at Cecilia, I can get immediate resistance. But if I explain to her why I want her to do something, she is generally more compliant. Her comprehension of my thinking gives me credibility to her agreement of the request and she is more amenable if I treat her like a person of equal thinking and understanding.
It is true that sometimes children require some extra consideration. When my dad strained a muscle in his knee, telling Cecilia that Grandpa strained something wouldn't mean anything to her. But telling her that Grandpa has a boo-boo she understands. However, putting things in terms children can understand is not the same as talking down to them. Speaking to them in a way they can understand is a charity that lifts them up to your understanding. Treating them in a condescending manner is unloving, emphasizing the gap between their understanding and yours.
Obviously, in the case of the unborn, society doesn't even regard children as necessarily worthy of life. Is it logical, then, that society would regard children as lesser beings than adults? While children have always been taught to respect their elders, children have not always been treated as expendable or as an accessory as society today seems to regard them with on-demand abortion and tailor-made children implanted from petri dishes and planned around financial statements the way people might plan buying a car.
Children may not understand everything the way an adult does and they may be smaller; they may not understand some things at all or they may be completely helpless, but the Golden Rule applies no less to them than it does to any adult. They bear the exact same human dignity and divine seal of the Image of God that every adult does and are just as worthy of the same considerations for their dignity and self-respect that adults demand for themselves.