First, sorry this is so late. We were up at 3 am for some family stuff, and didn’t get back to bed before 5:30. I then woke up at nine, and am only now more or less human.
Also, the family stuff started at 1 pm, which means I forgot to take my add medication, and spent the whole afternoon walking in circles in my own head and sometimes physically. It takes a lot of caffeine to fix the same issue, and I never had enough, because I wasn’t organized enough to.
No, nothing is gravely wrong. Well… one of the family cats is dying of renal failure, maybe, and getting an adequate diagnosis required two vets, one of whom was backed up (And we still don’t have it.) Then there was the human side of this, in that the cat’s human was having issues dealing with it. Yes, I know, but we do get attached to them. And our youngest cat is 10, which means the next few years will more or less suck.
Anyway, day before yesterday I found myself on a facebook discussion on Mediahog’s (I refuse to give him hits in the main post) latest grandstanding, in which commenters were fairly harsh to him. At which point one of the commenters who is leftist for my circles (and probably objectively, though not that insane, yet) complained. He didn’t chide us, but he said that he felt guilty speaking that way “of a child.” Mediahog is 21.
I heard the same thing about Greta, and I want to say, yes, she’s a legal child. Though most of what we said was about her pronouncements, not her, except for “I was a teenage mutant wokescold” which… sorry, is true.
Look, let’s talk about children, shall we?
Adolescents are hard to categorize. They’re hard to measure. All attempts to measure their “maturity” hit hard against the fact that the measurer tends to rate as “mature” opinions he agrees with, no matter how obvious it is the young person was indoctrinated.
But also kids mature at different rates. They just do. And they display adult/child behavior at different times. And hormone-insanity (which weirdly is mostly not sex oriented, just results in extreme emotional behavior) hits at different times and for different periods.
And some day you’ll be surprised to see your teen kid, with whom you have knock out drag out fights over not wanting to do his laundry give his friends very good advice on how to relate to their parents. The next day you’ll be back to laundry wars.
We have a lot of “data” saying the brain doesn’t mature fully till 25, in most people. It is used for all sorts of things, like to delay ability to buy alcohol to 21. (But not to delay voting till 21. I invite you to think on that.)
But it’s never universal. I THINK I was unusually mature for my age… pretty much always. Maybe I wasn’t. Maybe I just knew a lot of stuff. Because… Odd. Also, like most Odds I got accused of being emotionally immature, even while I was playing “mommy” and “overseer” to my friends in the same age group, to keep them from doing life-destroying stuff. I think what instigates the “you’re emotionally immature” is that we don’t react as people expect, while being obviously intellectually mature, so they lash out at us for the difference, not net immaturity.
ALSO we often refuse the indoctrination/manipulation that works on our peer group, which makes people upset. And they have to explain it away.
At eight I had massive arguments with dad’s communist friend. When he lost, he’d accuse me of being immature and “brainwashed.” At the same time another of dad’s friends who was what can only be called a materialist wealthyist [as in he believed people’s worth could be measured by their material worth (I later found out he got rich literally through an unpredictable stroke of luck, which explains A LOT.)] loved taunting me because my goals (at the time. They weren’t even well defined. Though honestly I’d still pick that way, above “comfort” level) were knowledge over wealth. He kept telling me I was choosing to be stupid and that meant I was dumb.
I was eight. Both of these grown men felt a great need to win arguments with an eight year old girl in pigtails. Both were vindictive and frothing at the mouth enraged when they lost. Both continued trying to do this till I was 12, when they gave up because I learned to answer everything with “Whatever.”
Mind you, society let them get away with this because I was a child and should learn from my betters. (Rolls eyes.)
Was I less emotionally mature than those two losers? Who knows. Given my age, probably. Was I less intellectually mature than they were? Again, who knows? I had no great knowledge at 8, I had opinions, mostly from how things “felt.” I learned, though, because I had to figure out how to oppose their arguments. Both were probably responsible for my early reading of history and philosophy.
Did they treat me as a child? Only when convenient. As in “She doesn’t know anything, she’s a stupid child.”
And that brings us back to the problem of adolescents.
Some people have said adolescents didn’t exist till recently, but that’s not exactly true. Adolescents with a lot of time on their hands didn’t exist till recently. But that could be said for every age group. It could also be said that older people with enough energy to do stuff didn’t exist till recently. It didn’t mean it didn’t exist, here and there, in rare occasions. Just not as a group. And it doesn’t mean it’s not a real phase of development.
The apprentices in Shakespeare’s London, who often engaged in riotous behavior, were teens. The tendency was there.
But society, when going to work at ten or eleven was normal was a lot more repressive of acting out. And frankly, having a ton of time on your hands makes everyone unhappy. Not having a purpose in life makes humans unhappy. We are born to strive. Lack of strife makes us … weird.
I think adolescents should be kept occupied with learning. I think our training of young minds should be a lot more rigorous. But society is going the other way towards SOFTENING their path, not making it harder and more competitive. I think that’s the wrong way to go. But I’m not everyone else.
And as a parent I confess it’s a struggle between wanting to make it “all better” for your kids, which of course you want to, because in some part of a parent’s heart they’re always the little two year old who skinned his knee and came to you for comfort, and knowing they have to brave the squalls before they harden enough to stand on their own.
And for a bunch of reasons, including extreme guilt over not giving them enough time (you can’t raise kids and have two successful careers. Both require more time than mere humans have) and concentrating all our eggs on one or two baskets, society has moved to “protect” and “coddle” the young way beyond what used to be permitted or possible. We now speak of mid twenties as “children.” We make no demands on them, at all, till almost thirty. And then we wonder what went wrong, and try protecting more.
What went wrong is in point of fact that we don’t let kids earn money, have any sense of independence, or be responsible for their actions, tastes and beliefs till they’re … well… sometimes never.
And our society is prosperous enough to allow it, but maybe not to survive it.
One of the strongest human impulses is to “keep our kids from taking the wrong path.” Even when the wrong path is something weird that wouldn’t bother anyone else. For instance, younger son is a hard sci fi guy and completely rejects space opera, which in our house sounded all sorts of alarms.
It can be that stupid. You expect your kids to make the choices you did. The HARDEST thing in the world is letting them choose. Even harder is letting them choose when you know they’ll hurt themselves. But you have to let them, or you’re denying them the right to be human.
So, how much should you protect your children? I don’t know.
I tried to do the minimum protection to allow the kids to still grow up. For instance, I’m fond of saying I never child proofed the house. We house proofed the children, which meant they were safe anywhere. There were long graphic talks of what would happen if you stuck something in the wall socket, PLUS light slaps on the hand when this was attempted. (Long before they understood the talk.) Yes, it required a lot of vigilance they didn’t even know was happening. BUT it also worked. Neither of them ever did anything unholy stupid like the visiting kid who flung himself head first from our upper porch (at 12. Thank heavens for the big leaf piles, is all I’m saying.) By ten I could trust them to go anywhere and not get hurt. Yes, it was a lot of work.
How about protecting them from unwholesome influences? Well, it depends what you call unwholesome.
I had two things in my camp when I undertook raising the terrors:
The first, is personal. I grew up under a national socialist regime that censured every mildly salacious thing. I still came across a lot of porn. Why? Well, because I was on an insatiable quest for written material, which included exploring any shelves on houses we visited. Most porn violently repelled me. As in, crawl backwards away from it. Now this might have been because I’m a girl and girls aren’t into visual porn. Part of my interest in Greek and Roman myth is because of a prurient interest in sex by the time I was 8 or so and — physically — entering puberty-ish (as in had breast buds) (And yes, it gave me weird ideas. I mean, just Zeus’ adventures…)
Anyway when I was 11 the international socialists took over. And look, they always start with a lot of …. what I call moral corruption, to then get people to sign on to the full communist program, which cleans society. (No? Look at all communist countries and their enforced puritanism.)
So, suddenly porn — from soft to hard — was everywhere, including magazines sold in the street.
Honestly, I didn’t notice any difference in consumption. Some guys were still addicted, but they were the same guys who would have been addicted in the old days.
Also people who got addicted to it were usually trying to…. Look, addiction is a personality type, but what you’re addicted to depends on how you manage it. And falling into something like that or drug addiction or other destructive habits usually means there is a huge problem this is self medicating. It doesn’t mean it’s all right, but it means if that’s not available, something equally destructive will take its place. Almost everyone I know of who has fallen that way had a massive trauma at the core of their being. You don’t solve the trauma by banning one palliative. You solve it by addressing it.
The second experience that influenced how we raised our kids was that for reasons involving what we were doing at the time we became acquainted “acquaintance-friendly” with a family of extremely devout home schooling Catholics. They were a lovely family. The oldest boy was about 18. The youngest girl was 2. Smart kids, knew a lot of everything.
I once found myself at lunch at their house talking to the 18 year old who was college bound, and talk wandered over to my experiences during the revolution. (Some of which granted are weird, but I wasn’t even going there.) Which led to the French revolution and the guillotine. At which point I realized two things: this well-educated 18 year old had CLUE ZERO what I was talking about. And his mom was giving me frantic signs across the room.
Afterwards I was told in a snippy tone they hadn’t taught him any of the horrors of history to “protect his innocence.” THEY HADN’T TOLD HIM MURDER WAS POSSIBLE. No, I’m not actually joking. They told me that way he wouldn’t have bad thoughts. (Did they expurgate Cain and Abel, or did he think that was the only one?) And btw that was the last time we were invited over/allowed to talk to the kids.
My first thought was to think they were morons. Very bright morons.
Because I could see, without needing glasses, that kid entering college and finding out everything he’d been protected from and not only having no defenses but NEVER trusting his parents again. Or retreating howling to a mental space of his own making.
I have no idea what the kid knew about sex, either, but I’m going to guess it had all been sanitized and expurgated.
So– our kids…
Well, when #1 son developed an interest in Roman history at THREE, for crying in bed, the more … accurate histories went behind glass, and locked. There were a lot of middle-grade, YA histories in their places as well as adult level histories about Roman history and architecture.
And though both kids had computers from age three, there was a limiting program installed till they were about 13 or 14 (I don’t remember precisely.)
Shows we watched that might have well, the occasional nude scene, got talked about before they watched. Same with violence of any sort.
And we talked about addictive behavior, because it runs on mom’s side and I have it. And how it’s possible to get addicted to ANYTHING and use it to escape reality. And how a little escape can be good for you, but if you live there it’s bad.
Long before they were given sex ed in school, we’d described the mechanics, (to choruses of ew. Nothing kills adolescent prurience like having mom tell you about it in clinical terms. Seriously. Highly recommended. It’s like giving them a sip of wine on the holidays. Makes wine totally not cool.) And we’d had long rambling talks — the best way to encourage this is to have them help you with some heavy repetitive work. Say, building a porch — about the psychology of sex, and why hook-ups can actually wound you (besides being extra stressful for Odds, because it’s like an endless audition.) Also about how real human relationships are. (This was often done with reference to books.) Reading Heinlein in their teens led to discussions of why he thought group marriages would work, and why they were extremely rare (at least successful ones.) And how it was an attempt to square women-with-careers and child raising. And why it doesn’t work that way. (Because the caretaker will favor her own kids, duh, same as harems.)
Anyway, instead of narrowing their focus, we just discussed everything ad nauseum, (no seriously) including tough moral choices and how to defeat your own inner animal.
Yes, it was a lot of work. And yes, we sometimes wondered if we were doing the right thing. And yes, sometimes “parental censorship” was invoked, like when younger son got addicted to neopets, which meant I couldn’t read neo neo con for a year, because we blocked the word “neo” on our browser. By the time he’d figured out how to hack out of it (good for creativity) he was over the addiction. I think right now he’s addicted to politics, but like I can throw stones.
Did we succeed? Who knows? They’re no worse than the rest of us, which must count as a win.
Is that the only way to raise kids? I don’t know. I do know at some point you can’t protect them. They’ll find ways.
And if your kids grow up to be political and loud, they’ll take their lumps, at whatever age they do it. At least if they’re not on the left, when everyone will simultaneously praise them for their “intelligence” as if the opinions were signs of that, and scream at you that they’re just children. Because they believe in oracles and magical children, but that’s just a sign of a culture in ghost dance.
What I know is that you can’t protect your child from everything, and then expect them to live free in a free society. A child to whom the very concept of murder is alien is a victim walking or a predator in the making. And his faith you worked so hard to pour into him will shatter the first time he realizes evil exists.
We tried not to raise children. We were in the business of raising adults, who would live in the real world.
And as for clamoring for the government to protect your kids… Well, most of the aggression on your kids’ minds right now is coming from government, if not directly through the imbibing of the progressive doctrine that has made its way to the institutionalized, permanent bureaucracy.
Child protective services might remove your kid if you don’t agree to drugs and surgery on a minor who thinks being trans is cool and never showed any signs before last month. (Yes, they believe the kid was hiding. Listen bub, even younger son who is the master of secrecy couldn’t hide to that point. Parents, at least those who live with the kid know what they’re up to. … If they want to know.)
WHY do you think giving government that power will protect the kids? Or anyone?
I was born under a very controlling government. Stuff still leaked through. Both what I’d now consider objectionable… no, wait, most of it I’d consider objectionable. Dad’s friend was a communist. And had the highly illegal materials to support his point of view (Marx etc.) And if he hadn’t been such an unpleasant person, he might have converted me… at 8. And this was a more repressive government than you can even conceptualize. And we didn’t even have the net, but this stuff was everywhere, and people knew where to get it. (Weirdly no one was passing around stuff on free market economics or personal responsibility, but to be fair I did get a copy of the Federalist Papers.)
Giving government more power is allowing them to send us further down the merry road to hell. Because they always use it to control you. And until we get rid of the permanent bureaucracy they’ll control you only in ways that give them more power. Period.
In the end, we can’t save all the children. We can’t save all the adults either. In the end it’s down to personal responsibility.
We all have the virtues of our vices and the vices of our virtues. Mom’s family has addictive personalities because they’re obsessive and fall down rabbit holes. Oh, there are other issues, but that’s the type of personality. I have it with bells on. I had to use “addiction fighting techniques” to get free of fanfic sites. AND I’m fighting a battle to control social media, made worse by being unable to abandon it completely. (I’m starting to win. Yes, that meant fixing problems in my life before I could. Since I had to fix them to get off the prednisone cycle, that’s just as well.)
But that means I can channel it, say to writing, or to learning things.
You can’t use government to create perfect humans or to keep humans from evil. We’re humans. All of us have a broad streak of darkness within us. You can’t just deny it. And yes, some people will embrace it, no matter what.
But the best thing you can do is know it’s in there, shake hands with it, know who and what it is, and just how evil you could be, if you let yourself.
And then stop it. And watch it all the time.
I watch myself all the time. Particularly when I’m very angry and emotional over something. All the time.
In a way it’s like making sure your kid doesn’t put his finger in the socket. It’s unpleasant, takes time, and is annoying.
But just like your kids will get around those stupid little plugs in the sockets (every kid I ever knew) and like my kid defeated the multiple locks on the door to run naked through the streets of downtown Colorado Springs, people will get around controls. They’ll just get around in distorted ways, often more destructive than the original.
Your inner beast will try to get around it too. One of the favorite lies is “This one is actually good.” But it’s not. We all know of good intentions and the way to hell.
You need to know the inner darkness and control it. And know why you control it.
Because that’s the only way to be human and an adult.
And you have to allow others to be adult, even if they choose wrong and decide all they want to read is hard scifi. Or worse.
Because free will is the essence of humanity. Without it we’re not fully human. We’re animated puppets.
And free will MUST allow the option to fall.