After I began developing an awareness of how the system of oppression and cycle of socialization reinforce dominance and control over children, I started to think about what it would mean if I were able to transform myself and my relationships with children.
How is it I could co-create an existence with the children in my life that is characterized by mutuality, respect, interdependence, authenticity, growth, learning, support, love, hope and joy? How would it be to live this kind of life within the context of the current state of our society?
Bobbie Harro describes this process as the cycle of liberation. “As people come to a critical level of understanding of the nature of oppression and their roles in this systemic phenomenon, they seek new paths for creating social change and taking themselves toward empowerment or liberation.”(1)
Developing a liberatory consciousness allows us to live within current systems with greater awareness and intentionality.(2) Changing larger systems and institutions is a slow process that requires the work of many individuals who challenge oppression in small and big ways.
As a parent, I aspire to be with the children in my life with this awareness and intentionality so that I can begin to let go of automatic response patterns and patterns of thought that I learned through my socialization process. These response patterns reinforce and perpetuate the oppressive systems.(3)
Through my individual actions I am able to live life more authentically by moving beyond these automatic response patterns. I can operate with an awareness and intent to live my life differently. Although my initial goal in changing my behavior and my beliefs as a parent had to do with creating a better relationship with Martel, I know that my behavior also can challenge broader systems and create social change.
At the core of the cycle of liberation, as described by Harro is self-love, self-esteem, balance, joy, support, security, and I would add, self-respect.(4) By living life intentionally from a place of love, joy and support, instead of power, control and domination, I challenge dominant paradigms through my individual relationships with the children in my life.
(1)Bobbi Harro, “The Cycle of Liberation,” in Maurianne Adams, ed,
Readings in Diversity and Social Justice (New York, NY, Routledge 2000),
(2)Barbara Love, “Developing a Liberatory Consciousness,” in Maurianne Adams, ed, Readings in Diversity and Social Justice (New York, NY, Routledge 2000), 470.
(4)Harro, “Cycle of Liberation,” 464.
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