The child has become a capital to make fruitful: The personal development market for children is expanding. What evolutions does this show?
Commercially, these books, CDs, and workshops are intended primarily for parents and concern the question of what a good parent today. The desire to “develop” the child reveals that, over the last ten years or so, this child is above all a project, capital to be made fruitful, an investment that one is not supposed to let sleep. It is no longer a question of conforming it to tradition, but of putting it in a position to become the hero of his history. Behind that, there is the idea that a successful life today is not to have a real situation, but to live the life that we have chosen. In an individualistic society, it is up to each one to find the meaning of his existence, and this sense is to be found in oneself.
The child has become a capital to make fruitful: Concretely, how does this translate into education?
This is for parents to become experts, not leaving anything to chance for the development of the child. While Donald W. Winnicott [pediatrician and British psychoanalyst, Ed.] Demonstrated the virtues of doing nothing, even if assimilated to boredom, inactivity is now perceived as an educational deficiency. They are made up of ministers’ agendas – it is a matter of “opening up all possibilities,” enabling them to “unfold their potential” – to rediscover the importance of being alone with oneself. However, even this must go through an activity, such as meditation. Look at the evolution of playgrounds: the idea of vacant land has become problematic. Trucks are built to play the truck. Here again, the activity of the child is oriented, whereas he could invent a truck with cardboard. Everything has to make sense. We do not just do things because it is nice.
Do parent-child relationships change?
Yes, because to get to this position where it allows the child to choose his life, the adult is now less legitimate to take the ascendancy over him. Positive parenting, very in vogue, advocates to consider it as a partner with a capacity to self-determine. We no longer allow ourselves to say to the child: “Do it because I tell you.” The right attitude is to explain why he needs to go to sleep. Ultimately, the child is made an adult, with responsibilities and concerns that are not necessarily those of a child.
This idea leads to giving us as the romantic goal of “regain our inner child” to change for the better and change the world. This is not new: in the 1970s, New Age, with the era of Aquarius, announced the arrival of Indigo children, who were going to save humanity. It is an old antiphon that is recycled at every epoch, and that is found today in the uses of neurosciences. The latter tend in fact to value the right – emotional – brain against the “wicked mind,” the left, rational, which should not be allowed to dominate us. To think that the blossoming of childhood will save us is also a way for adults to make themselves of the accusation of individualism that weighs on the DP, suspected of looking after the navel of people rather than the real problems of the world. However, under cover of humanism and altruism, some put their children in private alternative schools, and so much for the public …