Friday, November 20, 2009

On being responsible for the development of a new superhuman

Hat tip to Al (old whig) for this one.

Your child is a DoublePlusHuman. Don't make him or her into any less than that. Instead, strive to grow with him or her.

I say this as someone who was a child once and who has gone through the whole process of being programmed and then deprogrammed. I was for a while a mere drone, subject to the whims of social norms. I felt rebellion so many times in my childhood and felt terribly guilty for it. Now I understand I was right. When my parents told me they love me I felt smothered because anything I do imperfectly was not enough to make up for her love. When my parents told me life was suffering I did not want to believe. Today I know I was right, about nearly everything. If there was someone to show me what I know today, many of my current compulsions which limit my present personal freedom would not exist.

Children are not blank canvases that you can paint whatever you wish on. They already are masterpieces. You just have to let them flourish.

I have two objections to this.

The first is that every child is different. While not trying to contradict the general thrust of the line of thought, the idea has to be put into the context of individual ability.

The second is that (from my experience) an enormous part of child-raising these days is predicated on the (often quite unreasonable) expectations of the parents. I must say that this is very much a two-edged sword; that sometimes the parental expectations can undershoot their child’s actual ability by a very long way.

I left Al with the thought that “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.”

Rather than the “programmed and de-programmed” description from the author I would describe it as more of a process of “learning and refinement”. I would like to think that I was a fairly “moral” child though there could be some debate about that if I were totally honest.

I have to confess to having very little ability in social interaction, especially in my youth. I was at one level shy, backward, and felt very awkward dealing with other people. Social contact with girls was totally foreign to me, to the extent that at the age of 13 at a school social the old man had to quite literally drag me out of a film (being shown for the parents) and into the room down the hall where there was a dance. Dance? How?? With GIRLS? By the end of the evening I had sort of cottoned on to Military Two-step and Quadrille. Trying a foxtrot had me quite literally in a sweat. And as for the last waltz!! Say no more.

Five years later I wasn’t much better. I was living in Auckland, away from the family, having to cope on my own.

Five years after that, I had managed to talk a very nice young lady into marrying me so I must have learned some social skills by that time.

Another five years and I am responsible for the education and raising of my own first-born. How the h3!! do I do that??

Yes, children are very much "blank canvasses". I see my responsibility as a parent to put the frame around that canvas. To limit the development of the picture to the kind of norms I consider to be appropriate for society but at the same time to not influence the shape and form of the picture.


T. F. Stern said...

We agree, at least for the most part. I left a comment to Al's post which is very similar to your thoughts.

Eugene Tan said...

If children are already master pieces, how come they undo their paint sreaks and become entirely bimbotic when they grow up?

Did someone forget to upgrade their grammar rules module after the kids were born?

Why is I reading no shit grammer when making ass-says?