Most parents firmly believe that if they make a critical remark that puts down an adult, that person will be hurt and the relationship damaged. Do the same to a child, and they believe somehow the child won't be hurt, nor will the put-down do damage to the relationship. In fact, most parents even argue that children need criticism and put-downs and so it is the duty of a good parent to give kids a generous dosage of such messages--"for their own good."
And another part a little further down:
How many of us have lived this type of scenario, as the children or as the parents?
Also, parents are universally bilingual--they use one language for people and another for children. [Hey, Chrystal, are you reading this? Sounds like what you were talking about on Friday!] Should a friend drop and break one of their dishes, most parents would never want the friend to be embarrassed or guilty, so their message would be some variation of, "Oh, don't worry about that dish--accidents will happen." Let their 8-year-old drop that dish and we hear another language--such as "Damn it, my good dish is broken--why do you have to be so clumsy? Can't you ever be careful?"
While I'm not quite so 'offensive' in how I talk to my children, I do catch myself, especially when tired and grumpy, treating them as though they really ought to know better and really rather rudely. They're kids! They're people who do not have the experience we adults have had. Key word: they are people And this same idea leads to Gordon saying that to change parenting patterns, parents "must stop seeing their children as a unique species and being to perceive them as persons."
Because I'm so ready to explore this idea further right now, this is being added to my reading list this week. (I've got two John Holt books out, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, this book and yet another book on motivational issues in kids. I'll be busy!)