***I’ve just sent this letter off to the Pope (His Holiness, 00120 Via del Pellegrino, Citta del Vaticano) and thought I’d copy it onto the blogdiggidy in case any of you fancied letting him know about how real and possible a violence free family life can be. It lacks my usual absurd banter because, like, this dude is the MONK BOSS. His holy eyes don’t want to read my driftless jesting and made up words***
Dear Pope Francis
I want to paint you a picture of how some families live, because I have the impression that you think hitting children is normal – and that avoiding hitting them on the face is a step forward.
I believe a better (and more biblical) vision for you to cast would be one where all children can live a childhood free from harm at the hands of their parents.
It is a vision becoming tangible in some places.
There are millions of children growing up who have never experienced violence from the people entrusted with their lives. And they are growing into good and kind adults.
We have discovered that children can thrive through their early years and become upright citizens without ever feeling the harsh slap of a hand upon their bodies. We can resolve conflict peacefully, using words and not fists to work through difficulties. We find creative solutions to family problems; we dig deeper into connecting with our children when they are expressing a need we find tricky.
We hope for a kinder world, and know that the best thing we can do to achieve this is to treat our children kindly, and with understanding, rather than with physical punishment.
We use our role as parents to protect the human rights of our children – the right to be safe, to be free from violence. Research shows that children who are smacked are more likely to exhibit criminal and delinquent behaviour later on, and have their mental health destroyed.
Children have the right to dignity, which you correctly recognized. Simply hitting a child on the body instead of the face doesn’t defend dignity. Dignity is defended when parents treat their children with compassion, gently guiding them through the ins and outs of living together, when we speak to them, and treat them, as we would want to be treated.
Shame, manipulation, punishment and violence- every one of these strips our children of dignity, and corrodes their sense of being unconditionally loved.
Some of us have found a way to live in harmony with our children. We believe it is possible for all families to find this way.
Another world is possible, Pope Francis. And your role, as a representative of one of the world’s dominant religions, as someone whose words are reordered and aired throughout the whole globe, is to herald it in.
Please, publically defend the rights of children as you have begun to with other minorities. They are a people group that deserve to experience fairness and safety and kindness, just like every human on earth.