Sunday, September 18, 2005

yes, my kids are brats but...

Okay, now this is really frightening. Just the other day I was trying to tell my daughter that I didnt want to discuss George Bush with her because I didnt want to Indoctrinate her. I said that if she wanted to discuss things Dubya did, that would be OK, but that she had to make up her own mind about what was said. That anytime someone said something like "So and So is a good/bad person", she should ask "why?", and if that person couldnt give a clear reason, then they were simply stating an Opinion, not a Fact. I think I got through to her (she's only 8, after all).
Now I read an article in Science and Politics about Right-Wing "Christian" child-rearing practices and it really, really worries me. Try this snippet on for size.
My wife and I have a general goal of making sure that each of our children has his will broken by the time he reaches the age of one year. To do this, a child must receive correction when he is a small infant. Every parent recognizes that this self-will begins early as he has witnessed his child stiffen his back and boldly demonstrate his rebellion and self-will even though he has been fed, diapered, and cared for in every other physical way.

On what occasions should a child be corrected? Whenever a child directly disobeys authority or shows disrespect and rebellion toward authority, that child should receive correction. Lesser infractions of course would receive lesser forms of correction with the rod being reserved for the more serious infractions.
Now, I was spanked as a kid, and I spank my own kids. But in both cases it was to get my/their attention, or to reinforce a point. No blood is spilled, no bruises are formed, and the only assault is on dignity. The idea of breaking their will is horrifying. What kind of adult would that result in? As a parent, I would consider myself a colosal failure if I raised a child with no sense of self-will. As for one who would consider an authority figure to be absolute? Disaster!
Certainly, authority figures should be listened to, and self-preservation may dictate doing what they tell you whether you like it or not, but to teach your child that the Authority Figure is Always Right is counterproductive to creating a Successful Adult, unless you consider a successful adult to be a Tool of Authority. What kind of bastard wants that for his kids?
I want my children to grow up wanting confirmation of things, or at the very least, reserving judgement without verification. I dont ever want them to simply say, "oh, well, So-and-So says it's true, so I guess it must be". Consider the level of bullshit out there (which, by some arguements, is worse than lies), in personal interaction, in government policy, and in the marketplace. Equiping your children with a healthy amount of skepticism is not only a good idea, but a moral imperative.
It is the job of any parent to teach their children that ignoring authority can sometimes be dangerous and can lead to painful results, but it should also be our job to teach them that sometimes authority can be wrong. Yes, it's harder than smacking them around until they do whatever you tell them to. Anything worth doing is hard. Any four-year-old knows that Destruction is easier than Creation. Anyone calling themselves a Christian ought to know that also.
I hope that this is just a bunch of extremists. I hope that the current political climate is not encouraging these bastards to spread their cruelty to others. I hope that this is not the direction being taken by a country whose ideals I love, but whose people I am really beginning to get irritated with. I hope that I teach my children never to listen to these people.

And, lest you think I'm "persecuting" Christians, let me finish up with some more words from "Science and Politics":
Many in the Lefty blogosphere assume that religion is the source of such pathological behavior, i.e., that it is the cause, and the wingnuttery is the effect. I believe it is the other way round. If you were raised in a strict/abusive way, you will grow up with neuroses that make you seek membership in strict hierarchical disciplinarian organizations, including the conservative churches. You pick and choose the passages from the Bible that confirm your worldview. You use such misrepresentations of Christianity (or Islam or whatever) to excuse your behavior and to push it on others. In other words, it is the wingnut pathology that distorts the religion, not the other way round...
Got that. As for the Islamic Fundamentalists, so for the Christian Fundamentalists. "Judge not, lest ye be judged" (matt.7:1), but even better: "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye", (matt.7:5).
Broken of the will to question, unable even to know how to question, how could one remove anything but the illusion of a mote from any eye, including his own.


Anonymous said...

So you spank to harm their dignity, but not break their will? This makes no sense to me. I assume you mean you "only" want to humiliate them. Well, that breaks them, too. It breaks their spirit.

There are much better options than spanking.

daveawayfromhome said...

You didnt read that right. I dont spank to harm their dignity, I spank to get their attention. Dignity is a self-concept, and one could argue that misbehavior is more damaging to dignity than whatever swat on the buttt I may give them.

There are other options than spanking, but I like to keep all my options on the table.