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Monday, January 2, 2012

Parenting and musings

Any morality based on reason dictates that the Molyneux’s should admit that what they are doing is wrong and has had terrible consequences. They should shut down their family business. But before they do, they should urge those that broke with their families to return home to the welcoming embrace of their loved ones and friends. Here’s hoping that happens.  

That is the theme of this site.  It is not about parenting or child psychology.  It is about issuing a warning call to the corrupt business model of the Molyneux family business.   Mission accomplished.  If a parent notices that their child is listening to the droning on of Moly and wants to check out what is going on with their kid in the room; or a young adult sees a Moly YouTube video and wants to learn more; they can search FreeDomainRadio, Molyneux, and about five or six other search strings and this site comes up at third or fourth on Bing and Google.  That is pretty much all I have wanted to do here.  Lots of folks have been warned about the true motives of Stefan Molyneux and his wife Christina Papadopoulos. Families have been saved. Young adults are reading this site and then looking at FreeDomainRadio with a wary eye. They can judge the FDR messaging and make an informed decision. There hasn’t been much need to add to the content.  

Now what.  Well Parents occasionally message me in a state of shock and sadness after a defoo.  They naturally feel as if they have failed in some way.  Of course they haven't.  Still.  It is a really helpless feeling.  FDR true believers occasionally message me with suggestions that I look at myself and find the truth in my crappy parenting.  Until now, I message back the parents and ignore the trolls.  However, since the primary mission is on track, I am going to wander off and discuss parenting.  It is not directly on point, but it is related. Sort of. It is my site. I guess I can post what I want. Here goes:  

The parent as a parent: The Child is heading to danger. Parent first protects then teaches about danger. That is the majority of parenting. From infancy to adulthood, that is the process. Whether it is a hot stove or peer pressure, or driving or drugs or misunderstanding the value of education to their life’s happiness, it is the same general process. Protect and then teach. 
Suppose a (pre speech) toddler manages to slip away from your hand hold and is suddenly running straight onto a busy street.  He doesn’t move very fast.  You catch up to him easily before he reaches the curb.  You gently pick up him up; hold him in comfort and security; then point out the passing cars while showing interest and curiosity?  You gently tell the child, “You need to stay with me sweet heart.  You must not run into the street.”  Then you nuzzle your child’s neck to elicit giggles as you both watch the cars and trucks speed by.  This parental behavior causes the toddler to associate the activity of pulling away from Dad and then running into the street as a delightful moment of fun and wonderment.  Their impression is this:  The colorful cars, and sounds are not only mesmerizing, but I get a nice hug and cuddle from Dad.  Of course, giving a toddler this sort of positive reinforcement for such a dangerous bit of behavior would be parenting malpractice.    
The correct action is to catch the child from behind in a brisk and forceful manner and gruffly bark out the word “NO”? If you do it right, you will frighten the child and it will be unpleasant for him. The child will pick up on the forceful physical treatment and the tone of voice. Likely the child will cry. You take the child away from the danger with conviction. Once you are away from the dangerous road, you re-establish the safety and security zone. It is now ok to comfort the child. Hopefully, in the mind of the child the Road side will be vaguely remembered as an unpleasant place that is to be avoided. You have used force and intensity of emotion in the proper way. 
Moly believes that any use of force by the parent causes irreparable harm to a child’s psyche. But Moly also allows for the safety exception for the use of forceful discipline. So here is the question for all you amateur child psychologists. Does a toddler, who can’t speak, know the difference between the use of parental force to protect them from danger (good force) and force to cause them to avoid bad behavior (bad force)? Of course they can’t. The toddler cannot make the distinction regarding the parent’s motive in the teaching of discipline. The child doesn’t know that the parent is using force for good (i.e. the child’s physical safety from a hot stove, road side, etc.), or for the purpose of teaching the child that a certain behavior is outside the limits of acceptability. What if the child breaks the hand hold and runs towards his friend in the sand box to play. The child has done something he shouldn’t by breaking away. But this time he is not heading to the road. He is heading in the right direction.  He is going towards someplace safe and delightful. I would tend to let that ‘hand-break’ go without comment. Then run with him to the sand box as the child explores the new limits and expands his area of freedom and independent thought. 
So much for the analogy. My point is this. Parents must first protect and also teach. Teaching often means enforcing discipline. Whether it is teaching a toddler to stay away from the road side or insisting that a teenager reconsider a decision to quit high school to work at Wal-Mart, the parent has the responsibility to raise their children. Here is how I see the general continuum of the development of discipline in the parent child dynamic over the course of protecting and teaching a son or daughter.  It starts with the three principles for parents to follow as they deliver on their solemn duty to raise their children.
Principle 1: The parenting discipline: Self-discipline is what saves people from that life of quiet desperation. It saves them from that empty and vague feeling of unhappiness. Parents have a duty to promote self-discipline.  To do this, they also have to be disciplined themselves. The prime directive in this regard is this: Never discipline from a place of anger. Children make you mad. That is the truth. The tough part is that they are making you angry because they are misbehaving.  When they are misbehaving, you need to decide if discipline or teaching is needed. The Parent has to have the self-discipline needed to separate the anger from the ‘teachable moment.’ This is easier said than done. All parents are subject to human weaknesses. If a child is misbehaving, a parent can do a few things. Not worry about it and just let it go; make a gentle gesture of disapproval then drop it; make a concerted effort and insist on correcting the behavior. Any one of these and other options could be the best choice. Of course, the preferred way to approach a misbehaving child is with patience and an appeal to reason. You make every effort to talk them through it. Listen to them. Explain why the behavior is bad. Persuade the child to prefer better behavior. Now here is the thing. Explaining things to children is tedious and frustrating. It only occasionally works. It is way easier to just go to old reliable. Which is the world famous parenting line: Because I said so
Parents know they need to guard against relying on ‘Because I said so.’ It is very easy to get into a pattern of commanding their children to STOP!!! or command them to do something without taking the effort to explain things. The worst form of this is commanding the child to do something unreasonable and then demand absolute obedience no matter what. Example:
“I don’t care if you have homework. I said, Rub my feet!”
Moly and the true believers tend to think all parent/child interactions are in this vein of a bullying tyrant.  Moly builds a lot of his anti-family nuttiness on this proposition. His contention is that it is never acceptable for a parent to say, “Because I said so.” It is impossible to argue with a true believer who holds this belief. Their contention is that you should always be honest with the child.  Take the time to explain. Reason with the child. That all makes sense and sounds fine because on a lot of levels it is true.  But it is not nearly complete when it comes to children and parenting.  I would like to posit an additional way of thinking about honesty with your child.  Sometimes, “because I say so” is the best way to be honest with the child. For example:
Dad: “Don’t disturb Mommy.”
Child: “Why? It’s time for my snack.”
Dad could say: “Well son, to be honest, Mommy has cancer. She is going through treatments that cause her a lot of pain. If she makes it through this round of treatments she has a very good shot of surviving. It is more likely that Mommy is going to die very soon.”

OR Dad can say: “Because I said so son. Let your mom sleep. I’ll make your snack.”
The Dad could make up an excuse, but that would be lying.  "Because I said so" isn't a great way to handle a situation, but it is not a lie.  Somewhere between a mandatory foot massage and protecting a child from devastating news is where parenting happens. Always deciding, balancing and hoping to get it right. That is the parenting discipline.  Parents have to put forth the never ending effort to try and get things right. Most parents have a very high batting average.

Principle 2: Mens Rea: Mens Rea is Latin for“guilty mind”. In criminal law, it is viewed as one of the necessary elements of a crime. If the child does not have any comprehension that they have done something wrong, disciplinary action is either needs to be handed out very thoughtfully or not at all.
Principle 3: The judgment call: Each individual case is unique. One situation can be a case of misbehavior. Another is just a misunderstanding. Lots of times kids can teach themselves from their own shame or embarrassment or something else. They discipline themselves. I love it when that happens. But as much as you like it, Parents also need to guard against this situation. It is so easy to let things go with a wave of the hand and the belief that they will ‘figure it out eventually.’ As much as we like to allow our children the freedom to teach themselves right and wrong or how to succeed in life, it can be a trap that allows us to avoid our responsibility to teach our kids that, in real life, actions have consequences.
So what are the permutations and what do you do as a parent if the child is misbehaving. (E.g. hitting another child, willfully pouring food on the carpet, magic marker on the wall, knocking things off shelves in the market, refusing to get into a car when you have to leave, etc.). Now in the FDR world, Moly endlessly posits that a child that is ‘acting out’ is doing so because of some form of prior parenting failure. The corollary is that a ‘good’ parent can monitor and control the events that determine the outcome at any given point in time in the life of the child.
To this I say: AAAAARRRRRHHHH!!! Ahhh. I feel better now.  You dear reader may ask: Why the frustration? Because I get a posts from FDR true believers on this site who totally buy into this absurdity.  For the record, it is my opinion that children are the beginning, middle and end of ‘free will’ proceeding without any relation to cause and effect. You have no way of knowing what is going to happen next. As a parent, you just hope you are strong enough to take on whatever happens and do the right thing.
Musings and wonderings on the stages of a child’s life from toddler to adulthood.
Your child can move: We thought the sleep deprivation of a new born was tough. Hah. Now the kid can move about. You think that first step is magical? Well it is….. but still. Physical movement usually comes well before language. The parent is in a constant state of alert now. We need and want the child to have the freedom to learn and enjoy life. But we have to pay constant attention. Now we have poop dripping out of their diapers and onto the carpet as they ‘cruise’ around the coffee table. Now they really do have the ability to run into traffic. They can eat that cool looking bug on the floor or pull a book shelf down on top of themselves as they climb up the front of it.

The child now understands language (or so you think): The road side example above assumes a pre-language toddler. Once the Child is old enough to understand some language, everything from here on out, is a matter of judgment. As the child grows, a parent will have to teach their child about other dangers of life. Before language the only way the child has of communicating is to cry and fuss. So why are they crying? Check the diaper. It’s clean. Now what? Might be hot, cold, hungry, tired, pacifier, a crick in their neck; perhaps they want affection; maybe the child just wants to cry. How the hell to I know!!! You go through the sequence every time. Pick them up. Check the Diaper. Feed them? Distract them? Play some music? Dance with them? Sing to them? I think both our kids loved dancing and singing (especially my daughter: Van Halen and Crosby Stills and Nash) but maybe we were just scratching an itch in their back. I think it is likely that in the history of human kind, no parent has ever known for sure why their kid is crying and why they stop. All you do is continue to keep guessing, and trying, and hoping to solve the problem.
Then there is that magical point in the child’s development. They point to the formula bottle or reach for that nice soft area on mom’s chest when they are hungry. That is a big moment. The parent knows what to do without any crying!!!  Eventually they begin to understand some language. The words eat, food, bed, booboo, and bath come to mind. They learn to look at you when you call their name. Then they even come to you when you show them a big hug is waiting for them. They sometimes respond when you say “Don’t eat that!” as they are about to put an unpleasant item in their mouth.
Language is a developmental process. Everything they learn comes and goes. Today they can say ‘cup’. Tomorrow they forget until they learn it again. This is very frustrating for Parents. We thought we had it. And now it is gone. When you have a toddler that barely understands a little language and can move around, discipline is never easy or certain. No one knows the exact right way to do it. The experts seem to agree that the best way is to set limits and enforce those limits consistently.  Allow the child to be completely free within those limits. And then move those limits outward as the child grows and matures. I agree with that approach, but it isn’t an answer. The parent still has to constantly decide what those limits will be and then how to enforce the boundaries. I have said this before. It is a miracle of society that in unbelievably large percentages, parents do a fine job of it. The fundamentals are to provide a secure, loving environment and not be afraid to teach your child that there are limits to their behavior.  Now for the two key stages beyond the toddler.

The child matures: Physical discipline of any sort fades into the past once a child is in full command of language and can reason even a little. If the brother hits his baby sister, you might sit him in a corner. As he cries and frets, you take every opportunity to remind them that the reason he is there is because he hit his sister. Once you are sure they have connected their behavior to the punishment, you can let them up. Later you send them to their rooms, restrict TV, etc. At some point in their teen years, you try to lay out the limits and the consequences in advance. Missing Curfew equals ‘you can’t go out on the next Non-school night’. A bad grade equals the need for mandatory study time. Etc.

Adolescence  Ah yes. Adolescence.  At some point, you are largely done with ‘raising’ a child. You then enter the adult training time of life. This subtle change in your parent child relationship is fraught with peril. Compliance with what mom and dad say is open to interpretation now. Raging hormones contribute to the turmoil. I found the key to making it through was to lay out general rules of the house and well defined expectations for behavior and/or achievement. Yes it is our house. We require you to wash regularly, put your dirty laundry in the hamper and keep your room habitable as a condition for living here. You have to focus on your studies and get the grades that match up with your abilities. If parents treat it like it is just a few reasonable requirements and make the case for why they insist (e.g. we don’t want the house to smell), that works best. This is something like adult relationship training. It is similar to the relationship you have with your employer or business partner or investor or with your best customer or your significant other.  You don't necessarily have to do what you are told, but there are consequences to actions.  It is exceedingly rare to get the most out of life without finding the right way to live with or work with others.  If the child understands the limits, they learn how to deal with the inevitable limits that life puts in front of you.  Successfully managing those limits is a key contributor to a happy and enjoyable life.  That includes learning how to remove limits you don't like without self destruction.  When the adolescent inevitably wants to assert their individuality in an aggressive way, it can be painful. When parents make too much of the control thing, that too will lead to unhealthy conflict.
The general rule for my wife and me, was that we talked things out.  The kids routinely persuaded us to their position.  However, like all families, when talking was done, if there was no resolution , we made the call.  If the decision was ‘unpopular’ with the kids, we would say something like: “I know it sucks to have someone else in control of your life. In this instance, mom and I have the control and what we say goes. When you move out, you will be free to live as you wish…. But don’t get too filled with anticipation. It is very likely that no matter how long you live, you will always have to deal with other people controlling parts of your life.” 
Young Adulthood / College College represents that final contract of an adult parent with the adult child. As parents we agree to help financially during the transition to adulthood. In return for that financial and emotional support, the young adult has an obligation to commit to getting their degree. Parents have an obligation to STOP giving unsolicited advice. The children have an obligation to learn to take care of things on their own. This stage is not without conflicts, but the conflicts are no longer parent to child. They are adult to adult.  We always promoted independent thinking for our children.  That independence increased gradually as our children grew up.  Makes sense doesn’t it?  On this line, I will say this with total confidence and conviction.  From the moment both of our children headed off to college, they were free from any parental requirements or demands on their lives. It did not matter where they were. At the college or at home, they had zero restrictions on their travel, life style, work ethic, or anything else. When they were home, the only thing we might have asked was that they be quiet if they came in late. We never had to even ask that. They were polite enough to do that on their own. My wife and I were there if they needed us. On those occasions, we were glad to help them. There were several apartment moves. We arranged for groceries. There was that traffic accident the day after I got out of the hospital. I decided it was best if I went on down to North Philly on that rainy Saturday night to help out on site rather than leave it to my son ‘deal with it.’ We did some consoling after some bad days. There was that occasional academic challenge where some support was in order. There was also rejoicing over good grades and other triumphs. It was a good time. We had a relationship with our adult children. We were now more like friends than anything else. We talked routinely. We laughed and were genuinely interested in how each other’s lives were going. This was a very good and happy time for all in our family. That is still very much the case with our daughter.
It was at this time of general family contentment and complete freedom from his parents, that my son started listening to Stefan Molyneux.




3 comments:

  1. An Open Letter to Stefan Molyneux an Other Anti-Feminists

    http://www.facebook.com/notes/association-of-libertarian-feminists/an-open-letter-to-stefan-molyneux-and-other-anti-feminists/10150546215122737

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  2. Um Molyneux repeatedly flip flopped on that position like in his interview with Girl Writes What (an anti-feminist govt agent that infiltrated the MRM and has been spitting out rampant anti-feminism in much the same way as the "feminism = socialism + panties" video, and yes she is completely making up everything on evolutionary psychology). He just uses it to have universal appeal. BTW on principle how can a libertarian be feminist and vice versa? I mean many of the stuff that is put out on Jezebelle and other feminist sites is very anti-male and violates the non-aggression principle. Much of it is on using predominantly male human beings as toys for personal gain with little care for their benefit or psychological state and following their advice leads down the same path as Molyneux. I know this for a fact because I lost a childhood friend to Code Pink which is a much more radical organization than FDR and regularly causes members to detach from their families and sends them to their deaths in the Middle East.

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  3. Greetings, Edmund Burke: Thank you for this blog and its exposure of Molyneux. It fits in perfectly with what I suspected was going on with him. I study the law and it goes much deeper than what you have discovered.

    Please contact me on Facebook if you would...
    www.facebook.com/lb.bork.jurist or at dejure1@centurytel.net

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