Oh yes, too bad. That title above may sound like crap, but the truth is we as a species have evolved out of this parent thing a loooong, loooong time ago.
First: I don’t have any children. Second, it doesn’t matter. You will understand it doesn’t matter by noticing that this headline is not about being a parent, it is about being a child. And as far as being a child goes, I have as much experience as anyone who was a child; pretty much everyone else.
The problem is threefold:
- parents raise their children just like their parents raised them
- parents instill their personalities into their children
- parents want their children to win
As an outsider you notice how a child comes free into the world and then, with time, gets sewed on the fabric of society with the needles of education.
For a long time, I didn’t understand why people with children hate the opinions of people without children. I mean, sure, opinions suck. But wait, parents love, adore, consume, the opinions of other parents. Do you know why? I mean, no one can possible be an expert at being a parent, even if you raised ten children, not one. And there is more, have you noticed how parents tend to become interested more in the advice of other parents who have a similar amount of children of a similar age?
What maybe sets me apart is that I remember things quite well. A lot of things. I notice that most of my friends, and more than my friends, most of just about anyone I’ve met more than casual acquaintance, they have this tendency to forget the past, to make it disappear. I on the other hand, I remember.
People make the past disappear by altering its interpretation. You’ll notice that it is very hard to forget something. Once you learn a thing it is stuck there in your head, and while one may pretend to have forgotten something on purpose, there is this diffuse feeling in our chest that makes us sense that we know that we know.
So, you know that you know about everything which happens to you, even as you try desperately to forget it. Actually, the more you try to forget something, the better it will imprint inside your mind. You’ll start to have dreams about the it you’re trying to forget. You’ll get blurbs out loud about the thing when you don’t mean it. I am 100% positive you all know this drill, as I don’t think there is a person fortunate enough to have never wanted to forget a couple of happenings at least.
However, there is a way to forget the past, and many people have found it and are using it on a daily basis: reinterpretation. When we do reinterpretation,
we assign an imaginary meaning to a truth, replacing the viscerally lived experience of that truth.
For example a girl who suffered her heart out because at 16 years old her father would still take off his belt, make her undress and spank her butt, for a bad grade at school. And now she is a mother and filled with serenity starts explaining how he must have had his reasons and it is OK to spank your child once in a while. Reinterpretation.
It amazed me for a while that parents tend to not be better than their own parents. Was the mother or father an alcoholic? So, what, they’ll be driving as close to the limit as them, in regards to alcohol. Did they abuse them verbally or physically, that is exactly what they’ll repeat. And most of the times this is approached by society, it is solely in extreme situations of abuse. But the devil is in the nitty gritty. It is in the way you perpetuate all the wrong that has been done to you into the future generations.
Parents imprint on their children just about everything that counts. Sure, we’re all individuals and we all get our own unique personality as life goes on. But, at a basic level, we’re very much affected by what happened to us as children.
Children are curious. Parents are tired. Children are free. Parents have obligations. Children are frank. Parents are vain. Children are open. Parents shut down a long time ago. Children want to play. Parents want to work. Why do parents want to work?
Bad parenting is second place in worldwide epidemics, second right after stupidity. We rinse and repeat with generation after generation the same patterns which plagued our world. Take religion. Children in religious societies are preconditioned to not be independent and have an ingrained superstitious base model of the world. Take sex, the most basic expression of our worldly existence. Children have their sexuality repressed as soon as they have one. Take talent. Children are forced into patterns where they don’t fit because of the most stupid of reasons.
Everybody is complaining about the girls in pink and boys in blue. About the toy island in the store. But, in all honesty, this comes last. Feminism should be even more cross disciplinary and reconsider how mothering is done. Men complain about sports and the war on boys. But in all honesty, you men are missing out on the wonder your child is. Young liberals on the coast of the US and some in big European cities live in the bubble of progress, but more than 80% of the planet’s population still instills the same crap into their children like two hundred years ago.
Parents who don’t vote. Parents who don’t do anything for the society they’re part of. Parenting is not only about providing clothing and food for your child. Parenting means helping a human being become and that includes working for having a better and more welcoming world around. It is stunning the amount of bigot fathers of girls. Parenting includes building communities that last, communities which are safe nets for the explorers of tomorrow. Parenting includes guarding peace, peace which is the foundation for the builders of tomorrow. Parenting includes your own growth so you can handle the warriors of tomorrow.
Parents complain children use too much technology. With notable exceptions, they do because there is nothing else for them to do with you around. If your child has all the attention he or she needs from you as a parent and they still have room for “technology” they might have a talent and you miss on it by taking that iPad away. But I’ve seen the tablets used as hypocritical kid silencing devices endlessly.
All children are awesome. Given health they have limitless possibilities. Could we teach them to treasure this instead of obeying authority? Do you know politeness is a form of kindness, not a form of submission? Does your child know this?
It is a terrible situation. The school system is so old and rotten that when artificial intelligence and artificial life will come along asking questions, we won’t have anyone with the answers ready, nor with the mindset to search for them.
Nobody knows how to parent. This is normal. We want children, we love children but, in all honesty, we have no idea what to do with them. But we must at least try and move beyond the simple act of providing for new humans, into the mysterious process of building new beings. Today providing is not the big challenge, but parents keep thinking it is.
Consider this: if you have a child and are anywhere in the middle economically, your child has all it requires provided. You need not worry so much about the brand of shoes they have on, about the brand of their smartphone, about the bio diet they’re on, about the lean in parenting rule book. You should save all that energy into embracing your child with love, warmth, safety, communication, discussion, time, play, adventure, interaction.
But, wait, everybody knows this right? Everyone, except those who forget being for their children more than what they’re biologically conditioned to be.