So Why Are The TV and Guns Available?
This was originally written to a mother who had contributed a post online about how being a parent of the female sex is frustrating and unappreciated, why her child watching TV programs not approved of by her was so annoying, and why her child was so bad in this regard. While I can appreciate her point of view, I felt that her penchant for rage at her child was due to poor parenting rather than the mischievous ways of children.
To Mothers Everywhere:
I am not a mother–and I offer all respect to them that’s due–but that is largely irrelevant. And not to discount outright your feelings or point of view, but generally speaking, people can truly love and emote if they want to and so can understand other human beings and provide comfort–personally. In this endeavor, they may also find the need to be critical. It is not necessary that we be the same sex as others, have the same experience, or even have the same feelings in order to emote–though I admit that this can help–in order to observe shortcomings and faults. This is an outcropping of empathy, and the understanding of humanity–which many people feel only incorporate agreement. That is not always necessary. This is compassion, and this is wisdom–and we are all capable of it. In fact–it is because others are usually not in our situation, and ‘always not us’, that they can offer a clear perspective.
Of course, were I a mother, I could commiserate with mothers to a greater extent and make them feel comfortable; I could draw on similar concerns borne out of similar or the same circumstances, and I could validate feelings better that way–especially to the satisfaction of the complainers and to that of popular culture–but I am not disallowed to comment, especially where grievances are aired publicly-and about issues affecting society–even if I do not meet the sameness criteria spoken about. After all, I am human.
Popular culture is your challenge, Mothers, not your ally, and I don’t want to get in the corner with you, frankly-speaking; I want to invite you out of it.
And so, being human–like you, being a child of a mother–like you, being one exposed to mothers tens of thousands of times–even having had the benefit of experiencing mother-child relationships as a teacher in another culture–I wish to give you my feelings, observations, and insights–so please take them with love:
Your adoption of popular notions is why you have a TV and why your children have access to it. It is thus your responsibility to decide how that TV brings the world into of your home and before your child’s eyes. The fact that it is not under lock and key and that most channels are not restricted by some mechanism is also your and your adult society’s issue–not your child’s.
Parental Fiat, The TV, and Normalcy
The fact that your child doesn’t pay heed to your commands is natural. The child was born out of you–but yaks Khalil Gibran said, you don’t own him or her like property and you cannot control his inclinations–but you may influence his or her behavior. Your restrictions on the freedom of his or her inquisitiveness are also limited–and are another aspect of how you mold him or her. Because you and your society have not found a way to keep the TV from being a source of tantalizing entertainment and knowledge–right at the child’s fingertips (which she or he sees you using with your husband and friends), naturally works against your desires of mind and behavior control. Being human and not seeing herself as a being less than you, she or he wants to explore and enjoy, in the same ways he or she sees you do the same; this is normal.
Some Parents And All Human Beings
As you may be able to tell by now, I disagree with parents treating their children as indentured subjects instead of as human–albeit younger and more needy–individuals. There are parents who teach their children from a very young age that they are human beings as worthy of the stirrings that come to their consciousness and their growing conscience as are those of the overlords who are supposed to guard those growing faculties and inalienable parts of their existence. And if that is too much for other parents, they make things unseen that they don’t want their children to see. It is a matter of human sense and responsibility.
It would be far better for your child and for society if young people and your children were respected and not subjugated, from the earliest possible age. However, it is still the prevailing parental paradigm of thought that they must be under parental command and that they obey–like serfs or subjects under a monarch—instead of being treated as human students in the care of a loving professor. This is primitive.
How to Respectfully Deal with Young People
Where the children’s’ safety is at stake–or that of others–it can be explained to them in terms of not venturing into the use of things not theirs, and/or it can be taught that the consequences are big. If not, lock it all up; stove, sink, kitchen knives, cleaning chemicals, handgun, whatever. The keys are not left in the car, are they? So how stupid are parents who make all manner of dangerous things available to their children and who make use of those things in front of their children, then expect the children not to explore those things, themselves? I don’t know why society has not figured this out en masse and incorporated it en masse as well. It makes no sense at all to assume that because one tells a child not to utilize something that the child will comply—even with the threat of punishments—unless those punishments are non-violent and can create a common understanding of values.
The Dangers and Irrationality of Violent Punishment for Children
Violent punishments only show the hypocrisy and cruelty of a parent to the child, because the child is not mentally mature enough to grasp in agreement the notion that some people can have certain privileges and pleasures and others cannot–simply because of what appears to be size–an usually age—differences. And the physical punishment just indicates that the infliction of pain on a child (or a weaker person) is permissible—while it is not acceptable when meted out against adult or more powerful people. This serves as the child’s first lesson in the acceptance and politics of domination and unequal treatment.
We are supposed to have children not as a rite of passage or to grow a work force, to plant seeds in the world reflecting our twisted religions and philosophies, or as accidents stemming from our passion; we are supposed—as civilized human beings—to give birth to new human life in order to spread and share our intense and healthy love with our partners and to the children we bear and raise with them. Therefore—though it is nice to hear appreciative words, and it is good to teach appreciation to young human beings—it is not part of the mental need of a parent who understands that it is a clear and undeniable duty, and it is healthy love that brings a parent to be necessarily working at raising his or her offspring. It is not favor we lavish on young human beings in caring for them; it is an undying desire to care for them until they can care completely for themselves, and it is the job itself that is the reward; parenting is a privilege as well as an unequivocal duty, to make healthy and free new human beings.
I sincerely hope you begin, with billions of other adults, to re-evaluate what it means to be human and what is natural and what is not—and therefore what is not really fair and sensible, and thus what is helpful and what is not.
If young human beings were treated as full human beings and not lesser than that, most of the problems people have raising them would go away; the job of guiding them would be harder in some respects, yes—but it would also be a lot less stressful and damaging, for sure—and society would be better off, as well.
Short of the employment of life-altering spiritual, intellectual, experiential and psycho-therapeutic alteration, everything an adult is… comes from his or her parental environment—and therefrom comes society.