Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I think people should read this

Your children ARE DoublePlusHuman

We only crush their wills because we don't want them to show us up.


The probligo said...

Good post, Al.

There is always that very tentative balance between guiding and restricting development of a child, and providing the social skills and morals needed to cope with living in society.

Al said...

It's hard to credit Anonymous' sincerity.

I have a question: how do you expect to get rich, leaving your ads on little-visited blogs?

The probligo said...

Al, I think it is one of those "get rich quick" schemes, usually advertised as "earn $000's by sitting at your computer".

Perhaps we should feel sorry for this little nameless being, trying so hard to make it rich in this big bad world not knowing that the return for its labour will probably not pay for the power to drive its laptop.

I wonder, could we band together and write it thousands of messages of support?

"ET! Ring home!"

T. F. Stern said...

Having the knowledge that we are all eternal in nature, having lived as equals prior to obtaining a mortal body, the idea of treating our children as equals is not new, at least not on a spiritual level. We as older mortal beings are responsible to our younger brothers and sisters, call it stewardship, all those mortal pitfalls which might endanger a safe and fruitful life are to be minimized.

I do not ascribe to the idea of crushing these little one's will; the other extreme is not practical either, that of giving these little ones credit for being able to act as if they had the accumulated knowledge capable of providing for themselves at such a young age.

It boils down to the parent child relationship which leads both to an eternal bond, one which both look forward to after this mortality has ended, one which takes into account our weaknesses and strengths and how we go about sharing our time together to build rather than to selfishly take from each other.

LibertyBob said...

There is nothing wrong as treating children as equals in general, but we risk the same problem we have with treating humans as all being the same/equal. Children are born with a propensity toward self destruction and must be taught not to get killed easily.

The same happens with adults. Even with a technologically advanced society, a good number of people are just monkeys who push buttons to get a reward. They never grow out of it.

Mental development involves genetics, health, nutrition, and mental exercise. Far too few people get all of these things. There's a reason intelligence is shown on a bell curve. There is plenty of space between "developmentally disabled" and "average".

Sorry, educators have been getting on my nerves for a couple of weeks.

The probligo said...

"Children are born with a propensity toward self destruction and must be taught not to get killed easily."

And this is the argument behind all of those well-meaning people who want to put rubber padding under any playground apparatus that is more than 1m off the ground "in case the little darlings hurt themselves".

To converse to that, and to which I fully subscribe, is best stated with a quote from Terry Pratchett (paraphrased from memory).

Death (who is filling in for the Hogfather, a kind of Father Christmas character) - "SHE WILL BE GETTING HER SWORED, BUT THE CASTLE IS A BIT BIG FOR HER BEDROOM"
Elf - "A real sword? Isn't that a bit dangerous? She might cut herself!"

To that end also, TVNZ is repeating a very excellent programme titled "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Parenting". I love it. It confirms everything I have ever thought about raising kids. Mel if ever you happen to come across this, the Koro is definitely going to teach Lexi and Mikaela how to warm their feet on a frosty morning. Without the gumboots.

The probligo said...

Oh, following on that last comment.

This is the father who allowed his 3 y-o daughter to climb an adventure playground and slide 3m down a fireman's pole. One compression fracture later...

It didn't teach her anything. She took up mountain biking and spent time trying to fly there as well. Hi Kath! :D

Deb S. said...

:( You're joking, right?

Unfortunately, children don't come out with any sense of right or wrong, nor the knowledge of how to make themselves thrive. Nor, with the skills to earn a living. Nor, with anything really useful to ensure their own survival. Which is why they have parents. Our job is not only to protect them, but also to teach them to care for themselves, and to be polite, and to not eat (or sniff) glue. Because, really there's no shortage of dimwits about already.

Children are not ruined by overly strict parenting, by the way. I think most of us may still retain some memory of this dynamic. I know I certainly do. Children are, however, spoilt by overly lax parenting... as we can witness any day of the week on any street where they are present, currently.

Now, I don't particularly believe that the teaching of life skills to children needs to be a combat field. But it certainly needs to be firm enough that they learn. And, first lesson is respect.

They cannot and will not ever respect a parent who caves in to their every whim. They will use that parent up until they cannot use it more. Because it's allowed.

I'm not a cruel parent, really. But I don't allow myself to become a rug. xx

Al said...

I don't think anybody could disagree with what you said, Deb, except, what is "overly strict?" And what is "not ruined?"

If your kid grows up to marry bitch or a peckerhead, that's your fault for disarming their ability to recognize and avoid such people by normalizing that kind of behavior. People who love you are supposed to be bitchy...or they're supposed to be whatever you are.

And you're supposed to be whatever your parents were. Let's just make sure that the parenting spiral is rising ...where we're in control.

The most important thing we can do is realize that we're not the world's greatest experts on parenting and look into the matter. Parent Effectiveness Training has been around for 40 years. I've got their book and I'm reading it.

One day, your kids are going to have to decide whether to care for you themselves or dump you in a "home." You want them to want you care for you. And not grudgingly either.

Deb S. said...

Well, my father believed discipline was had whilst swinging a leather strap. And, my mother allowed such. Was it pleasant? Not by a long shot. Did I learn something? Hell, yes. Were my frail little feelings irreparably harmed? Uh, no.

I've been living in my parents home for the last three years now, caring for my mother who had a double stroke and cannot do for herself any longer.

Children are not only amazingly resilient, but also forgiving.

I've only ever spanked a child for lying to me. (spank = 2-3 swats on the behind with my open hand) It's only happened twice. I think most children who are beaten resolve to never do that to their own... and some grow up a lil more to know they may not be able to keep that oath.

All in all, I don't think children become clones of their parents unless they want to. ♥

The probligo said...

Thing is, Deb, that I read Al's original post and the linked article leading to something quite different.

The relevance of your comment would rely on why you were disciplined. If it was for behaviour, that would fall into the " social skills and morals needed to cope with living in society" side of the balance.

On the other hand, if it was in response to your desire to become a motor mechanic instead of a doctor, or a lawyer instead of school teacher, then that would be exactly the kind of "education" that would be anathema to me as one whose confirmation bias supports the "blank canvas" idea.

Deb S. said...

Training someone for a career path wouldn't be called discipline though. And, even in that instance... one can only train them until they are 18 and they will travel from then the path they choose, whether it is what you've chosen or not. Personally, I don't think it's wise for a parent to ignore the child's wishes... but I don't think a parent who does is actually dealing that child a harm either. They will likely have dealt themselves a future harm, but it was their own wrong thinking that landed them there. We are charged with preparing them for life on their own, not micro-managing their adult life choices.

I think I really just had a severe allergic reaction to that blog writer effectually saying that the child is goodness and the parent is crap on a stick. -achoo!-

Al said...

"Magnus", at the end of the discussion "Memenode" references, says this, "I told my young son (around age 4, I think) that something was his choice, and he latched onto that concept and ran with it. It has become a constant theme in our house.

Now, he jealously guards his preferences, as he should. These days, the challenge for us as his parents is to learn how to best explain the nature of the world to him so that he can make informed choices.

Issues over his safety used to be a problem in our relationship with him (i.e., getting him to listen to our instructions to avoid some kind of risk of harm). But now that he is very practiced ands secure in the idea that his preferences are going to be respected, we generally only need to explain or point out some hazard, and he very rationally and agreeably chooses to avoid it. No more contest of wills.

..."Safety is a big deal with us, and sometimes it is a competing concern with letting him exercise his preferences.

My son is now 6, and in my experience, a critical factor in his understanding how to be safe around cars, avoid household accidents, etc., is his degree of foresight. Foresight has to be learned to a far greater degree than volition.

I believe children have limited capacity for foresight because they have limited life-experience. We have been trying to teach our son to think ahead, and we have found that the habit of foresight has only really manifested itself in the last few months. He's quickly becoming more comfortable with predicting outcomes, with using if-then thinking, etc. But it's a relatively new development. In comparison, his sense of volition and self-directedness started in utero, as far as I can tell.

As a result, my general strategy is to (a) let him make as broad a range of choices about his daily life as possible, while at the same time (b) help him understand how to consider the consequences, which are often a big mystery for him. The first part was easy and took no time at all; the second part is a work in progress.

Daniel Memenode said...

Well said Al. I think you got the point perfectly.

I strongly disagree with others above who seem to support the use of violence as means of "discipline". This "respect" you want to teach your kids is just another word in this context for blind obedience. I don't care to which extent it is blind, it is wrong.

The point isn't that you treat all your kids as if they were equal to you in terms of their personality and preferences, but equal in the sense that they are human beings just as worthy and just as valuable as you are. Just because they are inexperienced and weaker does not mean you have the right to play the authority game.

Instead, it should be about understanding, 100% of it, as Al explained. It should be a two way relationship built on genuine desire to understand and please the other. This cannot be built on the basis of a authority-subject dynamic. Even if you hit your child only ONCE and never genuinely apologize and understand you were wrong, you are ruining your chances of building this genuine relationship.

Because how can you know that your child is "good" to you out of fear and not because he or she truly appreciates you? Seriously, how can you tell? They wont tell you. They're afraid to tell you.

Don't do this to them, for their sake, for your sake and for the sake of the world. "Spare the rod spoil the child" is a dreadful myth adherence to which saw many disgusting consequences in the world as you see it around you. If there's anything fundamental upon which the make up of the human world depends on it is how we treat our youngest.

Daniel Memenode said...

While I'm at it, let me just embolden what I wrote about with a parallel to marriages.

In the past it was just as acceptable to beat your wife as it was to beat your kids. Men were considered the "head of the family" who could rule the family any way they saw fit. Similar kind of reasoning that is today still used to justify (even if little) spanking of kids was used for beating wives. In essence, the fear was fear of unfaithfulness so even lower level disobedience to the husband was often met with a whip or a slap in the face (if not worse).

I don't have to tell you how wrong they were. The culture has luckily softened on that front and there is now a widespread propagation of the idea that marriages should be built on mutual understanding rather than violence. This is precisely what is the goal in relationships between parents and kids.

Yes there are more divorces, but that is hardly a testament solely to the quality of marriages. In the past you were not allowed to divorce or it was such a social taboo that you were scared shitless of just thinking about it, so people stuck with those kinds of relationship till they died. What a sad existence.

Also, while the situation with marriages has improved in terms of divorce being less of a taboo and violence being less acceptable (and even stigmatized) violence was in many cases replaced by something much harder to detect, but still quite real: psychological manipulation; passive aggression.

I suppose humans are still evolving, and it's frustrating to some of us how slow this process seems to be. But just because so many people still haven't learned to live with such honesty and understanding doesn't mean I have to find their practices acceptable or compromise.

All violence will end. Or humanity will end. We will evolve or perish.