What if We’ve Been Profoundly Wrong

What if we’ve been profoundly wrong?

No, I don’t actually mean in the representative republic project. With all its flaws and all its many warts, has fed humanity and lifted us to a standard of living never before experienced.

Which might be the problem. The standard of living, that is.

We are human, meaning we’re not detached, independently thinking units, but a combination of mind and animal. Our body has all the instincts and hopes of the great apes we’re built on the model of.

And thereby lies the rub. As a certain rabbi said, long ago, which of us is so wicked that he doesn’t want to give good things to his children?

So, of course, the first symptom of true, massive surplus in society was to lift burdens from childhood and try to turn it into this mini-paradise, this diminutive and nonsensical isle of the blest, not won after long combat or much suffering but just given to us, for free, handed over with no requirement for anything.

A myth grew up that not only was childhood inherently golden and perfect and nothing bad happened in it, but that it should be inherently golden and perfect and nothing bad should happen in it.

And it was expanded upon and propagated by both the childless (of which we have a higher number than ever) who push and propagate an imaginary view of children, a Rousseaunian view if you will, where the child, like the noble savage of their imaginings has inherently, by virtue of being born, all the best and noblest qualities of humans. He should never be corrected, thwarted or in any way changed, because he is born perfect.

This, I’m afraid — and one of the reasons I ran screaming from my first major — was justified by a whole lot of psychological and pseudo-psychological nonsense, mostly built on a Freudian basis. In the seventies, it seemed like every other psychology book was determined to tell you that being “repressed” (I.e. thwarted) in any way would make your child a twisted deviant, in sexual and moral ways.

Since then a lot of this has gotten encoded into law. I have pointed out before that I believe in spanking — note, I do not under any circumstances say “beating”, I say “spanking”. Having experienced both, there is a world of difference between being slapped on the butt once, and being struck multiple times with an object — because it seems to be evolutionarily the way great apes raise their children, and also because if I hadn’t sometimes administered it fast and mercilessly, my kids wouldn’t be alive today.

Now, I know, and have heard of children who don’t need spanking. I’ll say two things: it’s easier to not spank the fewer kids you have. And my boys were both ragingly ADD — which I didn’t realize — so all other methods of correction failed.

No, wait, I’ll say three things — should I come in again? — the other thing is that what many parents resort to — partly because spanking has now been codified as child abuse by regulators who never had children — from time outs, to brow beating and belittling, leaves much deeper psychological scars than even being beaten. Again, as someone who experienced both, I don’t actually remember the beatings in detail. I know they happened, because I remember incidents around them, and I remember the last because I was somewhere North of twelve, and that’s when I decided it had to stop.

I do however remember being followed around for days and browbeaten, my character taken apart, and motives ascribed to me that had never crossed my mind (most of my sins, even now, are being thoughtless because ADD and I forgot what I was supposed/meant to be doing, not malice or wanting someone else to suffer I’m too lazy for revenge.) Those are the ones that left scars in my mind.

(And before someone gets terribly alarmed, most of these incidents had absolutely nothing to do with my parents, or even relatives, but people who had temporary, sometimes incidental care/control over me.)

But until the other day — late at night at that — I thought that this refusal to admit they need correction and that sometimes mild corporal discipline was needed was the worst thing we had done to kids in the last 100 years, and the reason most children certainly in the west, sometimes in other countries, act like the spoiled princelings of yore, slow to mature, reluctant to take responsibility, often unable to mature or become functional, functioning adults.

And then late at night I came across this: Children Must Be Made To Work.

I didn’t want him to be right. But–

Look, my mom is perhaps one extreme of this. From fourth grade on, she was largely self-taught for all educational matters. (Since she loves the equivalent of radio great courses and always has — these days it might be television — she has the equivalent of a college education, but is prone to falling for ridiculous theories. Then again, college.) Because at 10 she was apprenticed to a seamstress. This meant that her parents paid some fee for her to learn the basics for the year she was mostly not worth it as an economic producer, and after that, she was bringing her parents money. Yes, very little at first, but increasing as her abilities did.

She bootstrapped this into her own business, and eventually designing clothes, but she started out at ten or eleven, working in a workshop, probably doing much of the work now done by machines, and being paid a pittance for her labor.

What she was paid was, however, essential to her family and younger siblings, so there’s that.

Dad had more what we’d consider a late 20th century upbringing and is an engineer, but this might not be all as it seems, and more on that later.

The point is that we look at mom’s experience as some kind of Dickensinian horror. But should we?

Mom did have a childhood, and an education before ten. She learned more in those four years, frankly — at least on the practical side — than we manage to cram in the heads of our high school graduates. She could write a coherent and cogent sentence, and was quite good at persuasive writing. (I mean other than punctuation. What a very weird thing to be genetic. At least I use more than one punctuation mark per page. Consider yourselves fortunate. Someone, I suspect, told mom to put in a punctuation mark when she paused to breathe. And therein lies the rub. Until recently I’d receive three page letters, with a period at the end of the last page, presumably to tell me I should stop reading.)

On her own, she studied, both in reading and listening and now watching history and philosophy. She has for various reasons, including business and her crazy children bringing their friends home, rubbed elbows with “intellectuals” who never suspected her lack of formal education.

In many ways, her childhood (except for a crazy family and living in the slums, mind) was better than most people’s up through the middle of the century.

If you do historical research, as I find myself doing, one way or another, a lot, and for reasons of historical voice and verisimilitude read auto-biographies or letters of the time period, you find that children, sometimes as young as four were working, contributing members of the family.

From four year olds minding the baby, to four year olds minding the cows, even middle class and upper middle class families had those kids working from sunup to sundown doing things we’d be hesitant to have teenagers do.

Granted a lot of these people were stunted, or otherwise hurt by their childhood, but honestly, everyone was malnourished and working far too hard, not just kids back then.

So, we got a bit of leeway on the surplus thing, and well…. everyone wants to be nice to the children.

How is it working?

Well, not markedly well. It’s not just that we have people only sort of finding their way in life in their thirties (with luck) which btw gives a very small window till your body starts suffering from “middle age complaints.” but–

It’s not working well for society, particularly, either. I mean, we’re now facing a whole generation which has some number of people who think work — any kind of work — is unfair and should be abolished. No, seriously. If you haven’t looked at the anti-work movement….. don’t if you wish to sleep at night.

Look, children are human. Yes, I know. I have often doubted it too. I still haven’t solved the mystery of the gallon of milk under the bathroom dresser, though I suspect it was younger son’s idea of efficiency — breakfast while using the bathroom — gross as it sounds.

But they are basically human. They come into the world as screaming savages — the noble part was always in the eye of the beholder — but they aren’t stupid.

They’re just profoundly ignorant. Sure, I know, IQ is supposed to be lower until maturity and blah blah blah, but IQ measurements are hard, and all of us have been faced with kids who were unholy smart and able to figure out things that would puzzle adults. (See child-proof lids, which mostly are parent-proof lids particularly if you have arthritis.) My kids could open complex locks in their sleep. I know, because at one point our house had four different locking mechanisms on the front door, due to the kids’ sleep walking before about 12. (For years, the front door opening, no matter the reason, would wake me out of the deepest sleep and bring me to my feet instantly. Only stopped recently, and I think it’s because I don’t hear very well anymore.)

They come into the world as little learning machines. One of the things they learn is “what is the world and what am I in it?”

If what they learn in most of their growing years is that “I am to be catered to, and never required to do what I don’t want to”…. well…. it explains a lot doesn’t it?

It also explains things like “Why self esteem teaching doesn’t work.”

People learn self esteem through accomplishment. When the whole movement came about, middle class kids were required to do intellectual labor for a great part of their childhood, while “underprivileged” kids were allowed to do whatever. Starting to praise everyone for doing nothing was exactly the wrong solution.

And that’s the other side of this: though dad had a more conventiona late-20th century (Which he wasn’t) childhood, he was a scholarship boy — as was my brother — whose grades needed to stay up or he couldn’t continue. In a profoundly decayed educational system, where the way into upper education was intensive tutoring, both made it without help, which was labor: just intellectual labor.

And yes, my journey was similar, though not precisely scholarship, but to stay in the non-paying section of schooling, I needed to have grades in the upper 0.5%. And my parents couldn’t afford private paid-for schooling. So I had labor and standards. But not as much, and I felt neurotically like a burden on the family. Even though from the age of eight I was supposed to clean half the house. Never mind. I was measuring myself against mom and her childhood, not other people.

But the point is, worth comes from work. Self-esteem comes from knowing you’re valuable and self-sufficient.

We’re denying our kids this, and turning them into neurotic messes in the vague idea that they should have an “ideal” childhood, where increasingly less is required of them.

And then at eighteen — or increasingly, 26 — we pitchfork them into adulthood and expect them to be useful, conscientious, productive.

Why, when all we taught them to be was little emperors?

Frankly, it’s a fricking miracle that most of the kids are all right, even if they come to maturity late, and often maimed by self-doubt and confusion.

I went from: what if this entire project was wrong?

To studying the roots of it and going “Of course it was wrong. From Rousseau to Dickens, none of it made any sense. It was the Fap-antasy of intellectuals positing what humans should be, not what they were.”

The good news is you can correct that to a great extent, though heaven knows you might have to be very sneaky, because, you know? Now CPS is taking kids from parents according to modeling and AI. Oh, wait, that means you don’t actually have to be sneaky, because that cr*p will be entirely random.

You can give the kids jobs and responsibilities in the house, and hard benchmarks to hit. Like “By summer, I want you to be able to cook dinner twice a week.” (Older son did this stuff to himself. He could cook a multi-course meal by six. But not every kid is that self-directed.)

My first jobs in the house were stupid-easy, but I was expected to do it. By three I was washing breakfast dishes (not the big meal dishes, no) and setting the table. But I knew I was contributing.

Allow kids to start “businesses” too, whether it’s making and selling duct tape wallets (which will mostly be to your friends, but hey) or whatever they come up to do. If you are home with them, starting some kind of craft business might not be a bad idea. Think of things you can sell at craft shows (or cons) and help deflect household expenses, as well as save for the kids’ future. (My favorite seen at a con was painting rocks to look like adorable animals. They wold well too. And yes, there are books and you tube videos on it.)

Yeah “but the kids will lose interest” or “They won’t work very fast.” Yeah, okay, but that’s what you’re TEACHING them. That one works for a living, regardless of interest, and that their time has a price.

Patience and patient teaching. It’s part of making them into adults.

Requiring educational excellence — in and out of school — in addition is also something you can do (and jobs can be more or less as needed for that.) Well, you know, kids used to know Latin and Greek and all the basics of composition and algebra by 10. IQ hasn’t changed. Only requirements have.

I guess what I’m saying is the old Heinlein thing “Don’t ruin your kids by making their lives too easy.”

But I’m afraid he had no idea how easy we’d make them.

I’d add “Show them they can contribute, and that their contributions have meaning, and not just in empty praise, but in hard measurements: abilities acquired, things learned, things made that either bring in money, or free the parent to make money.

Here I’d add that from the time the kids were five or six, we ran a marketplace of chores. I had a big blackboard and wrote on them what needed to be done and what I was willing to pay, and the kids claimed the chores. (I suspect part of the issue is older son claimed all of them, and put the money in the bank but never mind. He left mighty little for his brother.)

The money wasn’t a ton. It would be 50c for loading the dishwasher, say. Or $5 for dusting and vacuuming the whole house. The total was usually $5 to $10 per kid, per week, and it was the only “allowance” they got. And it was absolutely useful for the family. There is no way I could have done six books a year while they were little without that. If I had to do it again, I’d have assigned the tasks, instead of going free market, which cut younger son (younger, less capable) out of a lot of it.

It is important not to dictate what they do with the money, too, whether it’s buying an ice-cream (even older son succumbed at times) or putting it in the bank.

But it teaches them you don’t get money for nothing, and also that their labor brings rewards. Which is why it is important not to play government and tell them what to do with their money or take some of it away. Let them discover that in adulthood and be indignant.

Teach your children well. It might avoid having your grandkids work in mines.

If we’re all very lucky.

318 thoughts on “What if We’ve Been Profoundly Wrong

  1. Now, I know, and have heard of children who don’t need spanking. I’ll say two things: it’s easier to not spank the fewer kids you have.

    It also depends very heavily on the children having ABSOLUTELY no responsibility, including to not actively try to kill themselves.

    See: baby-proofing for ever older ages, with folks well past the age of reason who are not to be trusted to not stick a fork into an electrical outlet.

    That requirement has, as a preface, the requirement that nothing else be likely to kill them on accident, much less actively trying to kill them.
    This requirement is part of why kids and animals are generally not compatible for said culture.

    1. The punishment a child gets really should depend on the child. Myself and my older brother, giving us a ‘time out’ was a complete and utter waste of effort, because we spent so much time in our own heads that sitting in the corner and staring at nothing was hardly a punishment, especially since the other kids weren’t allowed to bug you if you were in time out. My oldest brother, on the other hand, a time out, being forced to sit still and quiet, was one of the worst tortures you could inflict upon him. He would do anything to avoid a time out.

      My oldest brother was also a kid who couldn’t be told. He had to experience it for himself. Mom told him over and over and over again not put his hand up on the stove top when she was cooking, that he’d hurt himself because the burners were hot. One day she gave up and let him stick his hand up there. Never did it again.

      You have to know your kid. What constitutes actual punishment to them? What do they need to truly learn something?

      And yes, all kids need to learn that they don’t get what they want without effort and even then they might not get it. Trying hard is great, but if nothign is accomplished with all the trying, then the reward has not been earned.

      1. You have to know your kid.

        What horror…

        What is even the point of schools / daycare / activities if not to make sure you never have to know your kid?

      2. I must say it gratifies me immensely to see you use the words “older” and “oldest” correctly.

        1. [Looks up distinction.] This language, it is interesting. (“Elder” signifying a level of respect not conferred by “older”. $OLDER_BROTHER might not like it, but he doesn’t visit here… Neither does $OLDEST_BROTHER, though all three of us might qualify for an “eld” by age…)

      3. My sister would have rather bled than take a time-out.

        The really useful thing with a “time-out” is that it works for kids that are overwhelmed, and stops Helpful Adults from further winding them up. We have one daughter who is actually really obedient, but when she got spun up she just has an utter meltdown. (Is better at controlling it, now.)
        Throw a baby blanket over her head, LEAVE HER ALONE, and she’ll be fine in a few minutes.

        1. Our son used to get overwhelmed. Usually it was easy to work around it. Daycare had standing orders while he was in the baby room, and later for some activities in the toddler room, that if he put himself on timeout, Let Him, he’ll join back in on his own. By the time he got to the toddler room, policy was well established. Hadn’t quite out grown it by kindergarten, but since it was loud overstimulating noise, he could cope. Gotten better so that unless someone really knows him it doesn’t show. Cousins can still trigger it. They take after grandma and their mom, their voices carry at low volumes, and are piercing. Get them together, and they deafen overwhelms me. Love them to pieces but … Didn’t help that he was the only boy, until the youngest cousin came along 12 years later.

      4. Dorothy Sayers wrote a story, published only after her lifetime, of Lord Peter, Harriet, and their three sons. Harriet was observing that they could manage their second son without whipping except that he’s getting conscious that’s how his older brother is punished.

  2. Sarah, this may be the most accurate and well-thought-out post you have ever written. (for all of its segues and ADOS spots.) and yes, I raised my two kids in the way that you describe. One of the family jokes is “well I have to do the dishes by hand now” “Oh, dishwasher broke?” “nope, moved out.”

  3. We have basic chores (since so much of our recreation is sunk costs– computers, internet, video games, streaming) that all the “big kids” have, and start when they’re allowed to have “big kid” bedtime. (an hour later than the littles, barring meltdowns)

    The money maker is weeds. 5c a small weed, 10c a big weed; thistles are automatically big weeds, and if it’s a thistle taller than the youngest big kid, that’s 50c.

    1. “The money maker is weeds” Love the rating system. Wish I thought of it myself or had the example when the little Tortugas were young enough to start them with this.

    2. Doesn’t that incentivize them to cultivate the weeds for greater profit? 😀

      Why pull a 5¢ weed today when it can be a 10¢ weed in two weeks? Do they ever bring in small thistles?

      Back on the farm, I remember thistles so big I pulled them out with a tractor and a chain. They were taking over the pasture; the cows wouldn’t touch ’em.

      1. Should have bought goats they love them and thistles make sweet goat’s milk

      2. Tragedy of the commons: you can’t expect to cultivate a weed if you have no property right in it. Someone else will pick the weed instead.

        1. ….I am going to use that, though I won’t use the “tragedy of the commons” phrasing… it’ll be EXTREMELY useful to avoid culturing a certain tendency towards “folks are out to get me” over mere disagreement on priorities.

      3. 2,4-D plus wetting agent for the (eventual, temporary) win. The thistles were bad when we bought the place in 2003. Application done regularly got them sort of under control through 2016, when other projects and several medical issues put spot spraying on hold. I tried digging them up in the past, but the root systems are impressive. If I can spray the plants in the rosette stage, I can make a dent in the population.

        A local NGO has a grant to pay the labor for spraying for properties near the river. I’ve applied, but if I don’t hear from them in a week or two, I’ll get the tractor-mounted sprayer back up. (15 gallons with a single wand. Lots of walking for the several acres infested.)

        The worst thistle I’ve had was one on the easement between our fence and the private road. At 6′ of spiky badness, it was a challenge to cut down and clobber.

        It doesn’t help that a few properties upwind have no control. It’s a fineable noxious weed in the county, but enforcement has been spotty to nonexistent for several years.

        1. We worked a project a few years ago which included trying to prune back tamarisk. Grows fast, the seeds are viable for up to 50 years, they’re covered in thorns and the stumps seal themselves against weed killer in half a minute.
          We worked in trios: one carrying the sprayer of weed killer, one wielding the weedwhacker (or the saw) and one with a pitchfork to sling the corpses aside. Then we had to go back and gather the piles of dead branches.
          Man, that pitchfork got heavy

          1. A master gardener told me that these thistles have seeds good for 20 years. If I spray when the rosettes are 6 to 12″ in diameter without stalks, I can put them down. If I really keep up, a repeat a month later does wonders. OTOH, skipping a year (or five!) is bad news.

      4. Ah, but that would require NONE of them getting the weeds- and while the bigger weeds are worth more, that’s partly because they take longer to pull.

        Eldest Son actually only brings in thistles– because he loves playing with the shovel, and it’s a good excuse. 😀

      1. Yes, I remember getting 5 cents for each two dozen weeds I pulled.My dad would count the weeds before paying me…..I ended up buying a baseball glove with the money I made, for something like $7….Our boys got paid for stuff like house painting, and cleaning up rooms, but the younger one decided to work for the Park District when he was 15, which paid better…

    3. Hm. I may — on a day I am up to dealing with the mud — need to offer to pay daughter to collect rocks.

      She might do it just to keep the rocks, but pay would be educational too.

      1. I suggest a by-bucket option for paying.

        Our thistle hunters are QUITE putout that I reminded them they need the root….

  4. Very well-put, and very relatable… The psychological things you mentioned really do leave lasting marks and being one of those people who’s almost 40 and still not even close to making good progress on finding one’s way really does suck on a lot of levels, especially since expectations about where you should be at this point don’t seem to have changed. Hopefully future parents will find a way to make these suggestions work.

  5. I agree on kids needing to work; it’s one of the few things I think my parents did partly right. (Though of course, they stole most of the money.)

    Spanking, though, I admit I have twitches at. Those are probably personal. Part of the problem is what the parents consider dangerous.

    Wander near the ram who wants to kill you because your parents told you to go pick blackberries there, and wind up bleeding, lucky not to be dead, when no one told you a ram would try that? “Tch, so sad, boy you were stupid.” And continue to ignore any hint that young kids might need explanations Animals Are Dangerous. (And that they needed a much better fence.)

    Publicly embarrass them or talk back? That’s what earned the beatings. Administered in front of other people, to deliberately embarrass as well as bruise.

    So… yeah. We have a multigenerational failure on how difficult childhood ought to be, agreed.

    1. Clarification based on Frank’s bit below: My twitches around spanking and like things was the deliberate public shaming aspect my parents used. Pain would have been education enough, and was a passing thing. But it was never used for that, or to teach me “this behavior is physically dangerous, don’t do it.” Being shamed – and knowing other people would allow and encourage it, and that it was not for my benefit, but because it threatened my parents’ images as “perfect parents, always in control of horrible offspring” – that was the unforgiveable bit.

      1. Dad had anger issues, but I can only recall one session that entailed a belt. Something about endangering myself at 6 years by hanging over the hole where Dad was patching the basement foundation, then trying to hide for a while. Yeah, I deserved a lesson. Still, it was private, with no lasting damage, physical or emotional. (Yes, I do respond to the clue by four, too.) He passed away my freshman year in college, as we were starting to connect much more. Still miss him, 50+ years later.

        I suspect his parents went way over the top with abuse, at least verbally. Dad called them out after his mother (“Grandma” is reserved for my mother’s mother, a complicated and occasionally infuriating lady, but with redeeming qualities) verbally abused Mom when various family issues were peaking. Never saw them again until Dad died a few years later. When they both had died, we learned that Dad had been disinherited over his stand. IMHO, that was a fair price to detoxify our family. One of my brothers was mad over it, but he’s Marxist over other people’s money.

      2. :shudder:

        We have embarrassed the kids before–but in the form of “they were actively doing something they’d been warned not to do, in a term of “recently” that matches their known abilities, to get praise from the folks they were around, so scoop them out of the way, noisy swat, loud explaining of “I TOLD YOU” with details of what could be expected to happen.

        Part of the ‘safety’ there is that it puts us, the parents, on the hook for our expectations and response.

        1. Things that are violation of common sense are generally: [Full name, with funny elaborations if the situation calls for it], you STOP [thing you are doing].”

          1. Kat-the-dog knows she’s in trouble when “Catherine” gets used… She’s still a puppy, and hard-headed border collie. It’ll take a bit more time.

  6. We’ve got a 3.5 year old and a 5 month old. The 3.5yo is absolutely fascinated by her little sister, but her mom is terrified that she might hurt her by accident that she barely lets her near her at all.

    Same thing with the cleaning. Me I’m barely aware of things being messy and generally hate cleaning, but the older one loves putting things in the trash, and trying to sweep stiff up with the broom or mop, but I cannot seem to convince the spouse to let her help with the cleaning. It simply is not done.

      1. Yeah…

        I will say it is adorable getting the older one to help daddy make faces at the younger sister. I want to cultivate this while little sister is currently the coolest thing in the world.

        As opposed to later when little sister is a direct competitor. Do not want that.

        1. There are adorable but solid sets of child-sized brooms, trowels, snowshovels, etc. If you see them, kids love them. Dollar stores often have the solid kind.

          1. adorable but solid sets of child-sized brooms, trowels, snowshovels, etc.

            Yes. Kid carried: Dirt, Firewood, Leaves, Rock, Plants, everything but wet cement, in his child sized wheel barrow. Raked leaves with his child size rake. Shoveled dirt with child sized shovel. Even ordered dad around on how recycle can needed to be “just right” so son could put in leaves/whatever, since he couldn’t reach that high. Every single chore took a lot longer than it should have. Have proof. Have videos (converted to digital) somewhere … Enjoyed every minute.

      2. OMG do we have the most adorable movies of toddler “I hlp”. Took forever to get done. Did not have to redo. Then grandma got one of those push pop toys. So toddler then “hlp” with vacuuming. We never discouraged him helping with anything. He officially started doing his own laundry at 12 (Family Merit Badge is do X many new chores for 90 days and track it. He had to keep doing said chores after badge was earned, without pay, FYI).

        1. What’s funny for my kid with the Family Life merit badge is that yes, he still has those chores—but he never remembers to do them on his own. (This is partly an ASD thing, so I’m not freaking out about the reminders.)

    1. Mine demands to help with the pet feeding, sweeping, emptying the dishwasher, and vacuuming.

      She is 2 and a half, so it takes supervision, as well as me grabbing the sharp knives out of the cutlery rack before she starts, but shebknowsbshebhas her jobs. Amusingly, “Wanna play vacuum?” Will get her out of bed like nothing else

      1. Your house, your rules, but you put sharp knives in the dish washer?????

        1. We do that all the time without causing damage. You do have to be careful how you put them in so they can’t bang against anything that could dull them and can’t damage the plastic coating on the racks, but otherwise no problem.

            1. Exactly. Wood handles stay out, plastic handles can go in. We mostly have the former, and the super-nice wedding-present knives DEFINITELY don’t go in.

          1. Yep. I would be more likely to damage them by handwashing


        2. Eh, it gets em clean, we have one with a really good cutlery rack.


    2. :sympathy:

      It’s really awesome for character development– our two eldest are regularly praised, or rather we’re praised for how wonderful they are, and asked how we got them to be so helpful…basically, it was like a week of making sure we had twice the time we needed for any job, so they could help, and then they were able to randomly do it on their own– but I have no idea how to persuade your wife of that.

  7. Yeah.

    Though, I have been babbling a bit on ‘how do we know that child labor is wrong?’

    “Sweatshops, using children, oh the horror…”

    Given what we have made of public primary and secondary education, perhaps the child labor laws, and the mandatory school attendance laws, were a mistake.

    OTOH, I look at some of the restrictions in some of the child labor laws, and think “I would have a hard time arguing with that.”

    There are hazardous tasks, where I simply lack confidence that that a child could do them appropriately.

    However, there are some comorbidities in that judgement. One, I myself have some hazardous tasks that I am really not capable of doing safely, that ‘ordinary’ adults may be okay with. Two, there are obviously some in absolute terms large number of ‘adults’ who basically have bad judgement, and do not stop themselves from tasks that they are absolutely incompetent to perform safely. In particular, the ones who trust that they can think, when they actually are pretty weak thinkers.

    I do know that I like the big sweeping changes, and that this is more of an individual scale problem.

    1. My da was a great believer in manual labor, by me. I have continued the practice. Does a world of good.

      1. Our current elites seem to believe in Manuel labor instead. Also the labor of Jose, Maria, and Juanita.

    2. I will be teaching my eldest to mow the lawn this summer. He’ll be 14. Why so long? Well, we have a corded electric mower, and he’s just spacey enough I’ve been worried he’ll run over the power cord. (I gave away the push mower several years ago to someone who had a teen, since we hadn’t used it in a decade.)

      (Also note: I am the only adult who can do the yard work. Evil Rob has major allergies and has a top time of twenty minutes of yard work before they make his breathing very bad.)

      1. I found that sunglasses and a cheap mask extend the time I can be outdoors without streaming nose and eyes. In extremis, I’ll add long sleeve lightweight shirt and gloves. Since I can’t breath freely with allergies anyway, I’ll accept the restriction of breathing from a face covering.

        1. He can do that for a little bit, but the compromised lung function means he can’t wear a mask for long, and he overheats easily, and I’d rather have him more functional for an afternoon than wipe him out in half an hour.

          1. Yep. There’s tradeoffs involved. But considering I learned that tool only since the panic started, I thought it worth posting as a maybe worth trying to any who have not yet tried such. I hate feeling trapped inside by allergies right when it’s beautiful out.

  8. My grandfather, who met Bonnie and Clyde during the Great Depression (they had no professional interest in him, as he ran a drug store, not a bank, and they WERE stealing the money to spend it, after all), had no use for the concept of “self esteem.” He said any fool could feel good about themselves, for any reason or none. He commented that Bonnie had been a small cute redhead, and Clyde looked rather distinguished, and further, that he had felt when around them much the same way he’d felt the time he almost stepped on the rattlesnake, which was also attractive and could have killed him without proper handling.

    But he added that they obviously felt good about themselves.

    1. I’ve seen the point made, multiple times, that except for a very small number of really weird people, no one feels other than good about his/he actions, such as Stalin and Mao included. People simply don’t do what they feel is wrong. “Feeling good about yourself” indicates absolutely nothing about your character or sanity.

      1. But this doesn’t mean he thinks he’s the hero of his story. Rather, he is entirely practical, as if picking between chocolate and vanilla ice cream.

        Sure, you feel good after picking your favorite, but not a hero.

        1. I’m not sure how many people consider themselves tp be “heroes”; I certainly don’t. But you don’t need to think of yourself as a hero to believe that what you are doing is right. Everyone (or almost everyone) else may disagree, sometimes violently, but that doesn’t affect the feelings of the protagonist.

          1. How often do you think what you’re doing is right in any sense but the most pragmatic?

            1. In what other sense is there? I’m not being snarky, but I fail to understand your question as it relates to what I wrote. I wasn’t saying “doing good” in some ultimate way, but only that people generally don’t do things that they consider bad, regadrdless of what the world may think.

              1. Burglars fully understand the moral implications of burglary when they are the victims, but regard it as having none when they perpetrate it.

                1. …which agrees with what I wrote; they don’t consider their actions to be “bad”.

                  1. But that’s because they consider only the pragmatic, as opposed to when they suffer, or what others consider when not committing burglary. Not because they consider themselves heroic.

                    1. Again? OK, I fail to see where “heroic” keeps popping up from; I certainly didn’t use the term, and neither did anyone else, including John, until you used it. If you consider that “viewing oneself as a hero” is synonymous with “feeling good about oneself” I can only respectfully disagree. As John noted regarding his grandfather, “He said any fool could feel good about themselves, for any reason or none”, which was why I responded to him as I did.

    2. Having been so absolutely fascinated with Bonnie & Clyde, enough go to take a trip to Gibsland, LA to the museum and ambush site, thank you so much for these details!

  9. My theory on spanking comes straight out of “Starship Troopers”: punishment must be cruel, meaning sufficiently unpleasant to avoid repetition of the triggering behavior, and unusual, meaning so different from normal treatment that the child can connect cause and effect. Every child will have a different personality and so will respond differently to different punishments. The goal is find the punishment that is just cruel enough to work and no crueler. For some kids, that very well mean corporal punishment. But if it starts to lose its “unusual” aspect, time to find something else that the kid isn’t willing to endure as the cost of doing what they want.

  10. Re period reading, several years ago I picked up a copy of John Law’s “A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life,” because C.S. Lewis said it was formative in his thinking.
    Oh, my stars and garters.
    That book scared the crap out of me. Law was a proponent of, “Since you were redeemed by the blood of Christ, your every waking moment should be spent in His service.” Every moment should be spent either reading edifying works of practical charity (say, how to sew clothes for the poor), performing acts of charity, or in prayer and meditation. He was rather doubtful whether a truly devout Christian could run a business and if he did, he should strive to make only enough to break even.
    But what really hit home for me was a casual anecdote about how a devout woman, totally focused on serving God, bought two children from their “ungodly,” parents, took them home and proceeded to educate them to the best Puritan standards. Just handed the parents money and they handed the kids over.
    At least, she let them stay in contact, as Law reported they eventually converted their parents. The son went in to the ministry as an adult and the daughter presumably got an education as a seamstress, since her foster mother’s primary vocation was making clothes for the poor.
    But, oh, we have no idea how different things were. (And fwiw, I read, or tried to read, three books Lewis recommended or said were formative and enjoyed none of them. Love his guidance, but we have very different taste in reading material).

  11. Ideally, this is part of what Scouting is supposed to correct for. (I acknowledge that a lot of troops are not ideal.) You’re supposed to let them fail in a way where failure is not dangerous—but where they can remember it. My eldest’s troop does have the boys do all the planning, and that does lead to things like the time when breakfast was supposed to be “eggs in a bag” (basically scrambled eggs/omelette boiled in a freezer bag, potentially served in a tortilla), but the shoppers bought merely eggs and bags. Or the kid who forgot a cup drinking hot chocolate out of a freezer bag. It has the bonus of keeping the kids invested; I know another troop in the area that is having trouble retaining scouts because the adults plan all the campouts (despite protests from some of the parents who know better.)

    Mind you, we’re not quite at the epic level yet that some troops get to (Covid shutdowns really didn’t help), but we’re hoping to get further and further away from our location and do more and more cool things.

    There’s a reason that “Eagle Scout” is something worth keeping on a resume.

    1. Our job was to try to prevent their death but we pointed out that death was better than injury since injury meant paperwork.

      One of the funniest moments was watching a kid eat round the outside of a potato because they hadn’t cooked it properly. Did him no harm and it was a lesson he’ll never forget.

      1. Watching them eat the results of the (2nd class?) requirement to build a fire, cook, and eat the results; just to keep from having to do it again … obviously dangerous results, adults stepped in. But … been a few years, so any of my stories have holes now.

        But yes. The time a scout forgot his sleeping bag? He and his tent mates dealt with it. Only two nights. No acknowledgement that it happened until campouts later. I don’t know why there was no pack inspection beforehand. Leaders were also known to stash critical items, JIC. (No coats in Oregon campout, no matter the month, can be Dangerous. Cheap rain coats, when cheap rain coat failed … again, can be dangerous. Getting a little wet as a lesson, okay, usually. A lot wet, NO! Depending.)

        1. There was one Pennsic when I left my sleeping bag on the Greyhound. I had everything else, but I forgot that and a really horrible library book. Educational about “sleeping in your cloak” or even in/under layers of thick clothes, because it got cold one night and I just gave up on sleeping. (My temperature drops pretty good when I sleep, so….) And that was summer, albeit in the Pennsylvania hills in a dampish place.

          (Of course, the always bring a sweater rule probably would have saved me from staying up all night.)

          1. Ah, the joys of Pennsic. Like waking one fine morning to discover the air mattress was afloat because the water came up through the floor of the tent, and the sleeping bag was wicking up the moisture.
            Pennsic is on this year, BTW, but I can’t figure whether it will be huge or shrunken. I rather expect shrunken, given all the Northeasterners involved. You must have proof of vaccination or a recent negative WuFlu test to be admitted.

        2. Dad was an assistant scountmaster when $OLDEST_BROTHER was in the troop. Circa 1957, and a lot of the adults were veterans of tents and foxholes, and so on.

          He mentioned that one rule in the campouts was “eat it or wear it”. He told of one scout doing the deed with the excess of his pancake breakfast. Pancakes, syrup and whatnot on the top of his head. I hope it was one of the summer camps, not Operation Deep Freeze. Southern Michigan is tolerable in the summer; one presumes there was a different rule for the winter campouts. I don’t know if they did backpacking; the areas readily suitable for that (Upper Peninsula, or further north in the Lower) were hard and expensive to get to.

          I was too Odd to make it in cub scouts, but I gather that the boy scout troop was small. Part of it was the difference in occupations. In Michigan, the adult leadership tended to be blue collar (think Ford, GM and Dodge), with a fair amount of time available to spend with the boys, while the new place was very white collar. Shortage of dads willing to make the time. OTOH, the girls groups (Girl Scouts, Camp Fire girls) seemed to last longer, at least into the early ’60s.

          1. Oregon.

            So, troops are no more than 90 minutes, and often less, to any campout or backpack.

            Backpacking is made more difficult in that groups are limited to 12, or 6 (Hood). Now there is a reservation system. Originally proposed it would priced out the youth groups. But looks like they scaled that back big time. Just a PIA, must know the opening schedule and plan accordingly. No more just filling one out at trailhead for backpacking OR hiking.

            1. Trailhead back country permit. Good times. My hiking partner and I decided to do a 5 day hike out of Mineral King, near Sequoia Nat’l Park, circa 1981. (We did it it in 4 days, not a great idea, but…) Where most people were going to go north to stay at 7,000 feet or so, we opted to go south and go over Franklin Pass. 40 some years later, I still recall the elevation: 11,760 feet. (Camped at 11,000 feet since thunderstorms were coming in; they hit the Sierras way below us.) We exited via Sawtooth pass, some 11,600 feet, but the slope was broken granite, much like a very coarse sand.

              Coming back to the trail head, we heard of other hikers who did the low altitude leg, and how many lost food to bears. OTOH, we saw some impressive claw marks after we were east of the pass, in the wonderfully named Rattlesnake Meadow. No critter encounters, mercifully.

              I can’t remember the trail fees, but they weren’t bad back then. IIRC, the ranger had a kiosk near the trail head, but the route we took didn’t need reservations. Saw one family camp, brought in by mule-train, and a few solo hikers the entire time east of the divide.

              1. Trail fees in National Forest Wilderness was nothing until recently. Group size limits have been in play for decades. But the reservation and trail fees are new.

              2. I don’t recall $OLDEST_BROTHER backpacking as a scout in Michigan in the mid-late ’50s.. Federal land is distant, and the Upper Peninsula was damned expensive to get to before the Mackinac bridge was completed in ’57, and even the bridge was expensive in the early ’60s. ($7.00 for a car, $13.00 if you had a single axle trailer. All this when gas was 29 cents a gallon.) Once up there, there are a lot of opportunities, though.

                OTOH, state and private land was there, and the troop had access to a campout site not too far away. As a family we visited some big campfire ceremony lit with a fire arrow. As a 6 year-old, I think I saw that the arrow had a guide line to keep it from going astray. Too many decades to be sure if that was real or no.

                1. we visited some big campfire ceremony lit with a fire arrow.

                  Never a flaming arrow. But among the adult district leaders there were a few chemists. Camporee (district campout, multiple troops) had some spectacular campfire fire starting skits by OA (Order of the Arrow) youth involving chemical reactions.

                  It was an OA cub to scout crossover that got our son, as a tiger (age 6) thoroughly engrossed in the scouting and Eagle path.

                  1. Indian Guides/Indian Princesses did a firelighting ceremony that was either chemical or electrical. I think electrical. Either way, it was cool.

        3. These days, they have to build a fire and they have to cook and eat, but they are two separate things. Probably because of recurring fire-building restrictions in the Western states. (It was so bad last summer that they wouldn’t even allow fires in decades-old fire rings at the summer camps, which made it really hard for those without exterior lighting at the campfires.)

          1. Meal cooking was rarely the issue. Getting a campfire built and burning the appropriate heat, was. Haven’t been involved with scouts for the last 10+ years. Knew requirement had changed. Speculated change was because of the western year round fire danger.

          2. The least useful thing we bought when we moved here was a portable fire pit. I’m not sure if a wood fire in the cage would be legal, but we never felt good about trying it during fire season. Outside that time, we either had too much to do or the weather was awful. 18 years now, never been used.

  12. Growing up, in the summers we hauled wood. We started at what I considered then a stupid hour of the morning, but it was an effort to get the heavy work done before the heat set in and made things unbearable. The work had to get done either way. We lived in the mountains and had only a wood burning stove for heat in the winter (which doubled as cook stove, light source, and bath water heater during the frequent losses of electricity before the mid 80s).

    So dad would chainsaw down a dead tree and cut off the limbs. Youngest kids would haul smaller branches out of the way while older kids would split the logs with mauls or wedges and a sledge hammer. When we had a good pile we’d set up the human chain to move it toward the house. One person would sit and lift the piece of wood, handing it to the next person, so no one had to be constantly bending over and standing up. Then the wood would be tossed from person to person and the last person in the chain would heave it as far as they could, creating a new pile. We got very, very good and maintaining a steady rhythm. If we didn’t the whole chain would bog down and sometimes someone would get smacked with a piece of wood they weren’t ready to catch yet. We learned quick. As we lived on 4 acres, 3 of which were down hill, we often wound up with what we called the self-sorting wood pile’ after the first round of chaining, as the heavier pieces would not go as far and the lighter pieces would go quite far sometimes.

    We needed to cut and haul at least 6 cords every summer in order to stay comfortably warm during the winter. It was hot, sweaty, tiring, hard work and it sucked, but when we were done we could see what we had accomplished and knew that we didn’t need to go to bed in three layers of clothes during winter in order to stay warm.

    And dad never paid someone to do something he could do himself, until he hit his late 60s. House needed a new roof? He and us kids climbed up and pried teh old stuff off, (there are pictures of us posing on the roof when we finished) then we’d get out the staple gun and haul the stacks of paper and shingles to the roof. One kid painted edges with tar, one laid paper and another tacked it down, one opened the packages of shingles and hauled them to where they were needed, one lay out shingles ready to go and dad came through with the staple gun and secured them in place.

    Old retaining wall made of wood decaying? Rip it out, dig a trench, lay cinder blocks and mortar. All hands on deck.

    Neighbor had a tree come down in their driveway or the road way? Grab the chainsaw and the kids can roll the logs out of teh way until vehicles can pass again.

    Funny story, I was coming home from work one evening and came upon a line of cars parked in our lane-and-a-half mountain road. A tree had come down across the road and was blocking traffic. I asked if anyone had been called because I knew two people with chainsaws on the other side who’d be more than willing to come take care of it. I’d been told 3 people had already been called and were on their way. Mountain people are like that. And anyone not in spiffy business clothes helped move the cut up pieces out of the way so that the work went faster and we could all get home that much sooner.

    My nephews, on the other hand… one of them is totally resistant to the idea of chores. His twin has zero problem with it, not least because it’s how he gets his spending money. But the youngest seems to think that he shouldn’t ever have to do anything he doesn’t like or that is hard. He has these grand dreams of cool things he’ll do when he’s older, without understanding that there’s going to need to be the hard part of learning all the beginning steps before he’ll reach the ‘cool’ part. He seems to think that when he’s older he’ll just know what he needs to know, that studying and working and discipline will not be needed at all. And we’re limited on the means we can use to coerce him into doing what needs to be done because of the custody agreement and the truly horrendously poor example his father sets for him.

    1. Oh. I did agricultural chores from age 3 as a matter of fact. Because when needed, it was all hands on deck. My chore at 3 was weeding the onion patch. No adult could be spared to do it.
      By six I really helped with the grape harvest.
      By 10 it was potato planting, and the harvest and….. Yeah. Those were just “Drop everything, everyone is doing this for a week, because the weather is right.”
      Growing up where most people grew their food did that.

      1. And now we get comments from supposedly educated(!) adults regarding farmers unable to plant or get fertilizer, to the tune of, “Why is that a problem? Just go to the supermarket to get food!” And they’ aren’t kidding.

        The time of Kornbluth’s “Marching Morons” is upon us…

        1. They are Educated, in the finest institutions no less!
          They’re the Experts! They only sound stupid to you because you’re not as Educated as they are.

        2. Or the gal on Sunday Morning last week who said it was great, because it was speed the transition to using manure and other organic fertilizers.

          Ask Sri Lanka how well that went.

          1. The only group with which I’m at all familiar who use all, or almost all, “natural” farming methods, and make it work, are the Amish. And believe me, they do work at it, really hard, and their yields are, to put it delicately, sub-par. There’s no way our population could be sustained, much less that the US could export food to damn near everywhere, using those methods. Of course, I suspect that for “Our Betters” that’s a feature, not a bug, may they rot in whatever Hell they believe in.

    2. Number two son tells the story of a session at school where his classmates were talking about how their parents were their best friends. My son was incredulous and said that he liked us, but we weren’t his friends, we were his parents and if their parents were being their friends they weren’t doing their job being parents.

      He has always been cursed to see clearly.

        1. And if you do the parenting thing reasonably well, you can and probably will be the best of friends…later, when the kids aren’t so much in need of parenting.

          1. I think that transition is occurring now that they’re moving on. I actually like them now.

          2. Yep, that was happening when Dad passed, far too young.

            $OLDER_BROTHER never got there. IMHO, he got away with too much when younger, and is still carrying that attitude through. I tried, but got caught often enough to learn the boundaries.

    3. Son’s summer between junior and senor year at college. Couldn’t find a job (he looked) because home mid-June, had to be gone 2nd week of August for 6 weeks (can’t blame employers, really; it was HAD to be gone). So, he manually split 10 chords of wood and painted the house. Which we paid him to do. Another summer, before he got his job. He painted grandma’s house, also got paid to do. She just had the house painted again, by one of dad’s cousins, once removed, on the family discount plan (professional house pointer).

    4. when we were done we could see what we had accomplished

      One of the few things Garrison Keillor said that made universal sense was that shoveling snow (after the snowing had ceased) was honest work, and nobody could deny the utility of the result.

      1. True ‘dat. There’s a satisfaction in nice, clear sidewalks and a good path (at least) in the driveway.

  13. So many comments.

    All five of us were spanked as children. Usually we deserved it, and the few times Mom or Dad spanked me instead of the troublemaker were offset by the number of times someone else was spanked when I should have been. As an adult, I’ve met way too many kids (and parents) who desperately needed to be introduced to Mom’s wooden spoon.

    My Dragonette was hired at the grocery store the day after her 14th birthday, after 4 years of following the stockers around while I was shopping. She has a strong work ethic, understands the concept of “other duties not described” and is careful about how she spends her money. The ADHD doesn’t help with things like regular chores, but she’s still a good kid.

    My Girl Scouts are learning adulting skills, and the one time we did a joint camping trip with the local boy scout troop, they were very proud of how much better they were at shopping for supplies, cooking, time management, and cleaning up after themselves – all things that we had taught them in our troop.

  14. Great post, and a great annoyance to me to finish my book because it concerns exactly those issues among others. Also I agree with psychological vs. physical punishment. I greatly prefer physical. In my era, the nuns had just given up “the paddle”. The head nun still had it to threaten us with but never used it. It was replaced by the guilt trip–a specialty of nuns as well as Jewish mothers. Talk about being scarred for life!

  15. One of my fondest memories is as a toddler “helping” my grannie snap beans. I was lousy in the beginning, but I started to get the hang of it by the end. Little children want to help. They want to learn. The mainline society seems to want to stomp that out of them with a passion.

    1. They do – they want to help, and have the respect of others, and the approval of adults – almost as dearly as they want food and drink.
      My daughter’s first serious job at 16 was as a sales associate in a department store. She loved it, because she was one of the team, and felt that she was pulling her weight among the other adults. Later on, she was a pool lifeguard during the summer – again, responsible and trusted by others.
      And yes, Wee Jamie, the wonder grandson will have a job, as soon as he can do it, even if it’s just pulling weeds and helping clean out the henhouse.

      1. It’s kind of amazing how well it motivates kids, especially the really young ones, when you tell them that they are good helpers.

        1. Little kids are fascinated by adult jobs. A lot of times at work, I will explain what I am doing to babies, even, because they are watching me so curiously.

          Little kids often want to go behind the counter at food service places, and sometimes do. (Nothing like finding a kid leaning against the inside of the counter, out of nowhere….)

          There was also one little kid who asked to see the chef, and whom I had a serious discussion with, on his wish to become a chef. (He watched a lot of Food Network. We make fast pizza and hot dogs, so you can see he was really reaching out.)

          1. Most of the new costcos (sample size: more than five, fewer than a dozen) have a big window into the food prep area.

            And tey have tables next to it, my kids can and will camp there for a really excessive amount of time, just watching the pizza tool and stuff.

            1. We have a big window, but it is on an adult level and behind cart storage. Our coworkers knock on our window, and our managers look through it. It has been compared often to an aquarium or zoo window, but that works both ways… We can see members who need help.

              But yes, it would be an attraction on a kid level.

      2. They do – they want to help, and have the respect of others, and the approval of adults – almost as dearly as they want food and drink.

        BOTH of our walking-around age sons taught themselves HOW TO READ to get this.

        Yes, we have computer programs to help. (starfall website!)

        Yes, there’s books all over.

        Yes, they, especially the youngest, have insanely helpful tutors in the form of their sisters.

        …. they still TAUGHT THEMSELVES TO READ because they know mommy (and, I suspect more importantly, daddy–who seldom picks up a paper book, as a data point) are reading all the time, and they wanted to do that.

        1. It’s almost like kids are meant to grow, and you have to put civilization-scale pressure on them to stop it happening.

        2. This is why I proclaim that I have NO IDEA how to teach someone to read. My kids just sort of did it—the eldest before he was three, and when the pediatrician pointed out that’s often a sign of ASD, which he has, we shrugged and pointed out that “reading before three” went back at least two generations on both sides, so it wasn’t a great indicator. The other two had it solid before the end of kindergarten, and I suspect the middle child could read more than she thought, because she gets a picture in her head of The Way It Should Be and any deviation, no matter how small, means it must not be true. (We’re working on that, and it’s definitely related to her ADHD.)

          1. wait. It’s a sign of ASD? Whats ASD?
            I have no idea when second learned to read. I only found out he could when he was eight, but he’s sneaky. At eight he was reading my mysteries and mishelving them when he was done!

                1. I imagine most of us here have it as well. I’ve never been formally diagnosed as such but I’m pretty sure I’m an aspie.

            1. Autism Spectrum Disorder, which is basically the catch-all term because they realized the differences between “high functioning”, “low functioning” and “Asperger’s” were difficult if not impossible to demarcate.

              In other words, eldest is autistic, but aside from the stimming (which in his case is hand flapping, an atonal humming, and the complete inability to stand still most of the time), it’s not really noticeable. IOW, he’s a well-regarded student after years of actual “socialization” training*, he has his own friends who were not chosen for him, and he gets along well with other people in his age group even if they’re not friends.

              *Literally “when someone says this, this is how you respond” types of training. He can hold an actual conversation, which is more than most of his teenaged peers can.

              1. Reading really really early, like one or two, is related to hyperlexicalism. Sometimes.

                But reading before three is No Big Deal, other than people should make sure the kid has eyesight checked often, and gets enough playtime outside in the sunlight, and works on spacial stuff.

                (Because concentrating on small things, like words on pages, all the time has some downsides. Like exercising small muscles all the time instead of using the big giant crayons.)

  16. Back in my grandfather’s day in British India, when the oldest son turned around 7, women had to decide whether to stay with their husbands or accompany the children “home” while they went to school, As was common, my grandfather was put on a ship in Karachi alone, sailed through the Suez Canal, changed to a train at Marseille to London via Paris and then by train to deepest, darkest Lancashire where he spent the next several years with the Jesuits eating bad food and taking cold showers. He did see his mother a few times over the next years, but didn’t see his father again until he was back on the NW frontier reporting in to his regiment. Within less than a year he was in Flanders it being 1914 and all.

    This was not uncommon, but we can’t imagine such a thing today.

  17. It seems to me that the way to make the “chore board” fair is to rotate who gets to pick first each week, and then have them take turns picking a chore until all of the chores are chosen. That should eliminate the oldest/biggest picking the most lucrative chores, and keep the total amount of work roughly balanced.

    When I grew up, I got an allowance, and I don’t remember being tasked with a lot of chores when I was younger. I did get assigned lawn-mowing duty once I was big enough to handle the mower, but I don’t remember much else. Honestly, my parents would have done better to throw a bit more housework my way, at least to make sure I could do laundry, basic housecleaning, and minimal cooking before I headed off to college. I had to figure a lot of that out on my own, and at first it wasn’t pretty. At least things like laundry detergent have instructions printed on them.

    1. We all had chores, mostly based on height. Youngest kids put away the dishes on the bottom rack of the washer, since that was what they could reach (and those dishes tended to be large bowls and pots and pans that wen in bottom cabinets). Taller ones unloaded the top of the washer. Ones that could see over the sink enough to safely put their hands in without getting cut did dishes.

      And on weekends it was putting stuff away, dusting, vacuuming, cleaning counters, sweeping, mopping, the works. Everyone worked until it was all done. Slackers got perks taken away.

      When I first got a real job (at the same company where my mother worked, seriously, the HR lead liked me, it had nothing to do with my mom once the initial suggestion was made that I was looking for a job), after a couple of weeks I was told that I reminded people of my mother. This was a high compliment, as she is a dedicated and hard worker who applies as much brains as muscle to any job she attempts. And it made me glad my parents hadn’t put up with whining or complaining or try to skive out of chores.

  18. IMNSHO, if CPS comes for your kids, they’re kidnappers and should be shot dead on sight. So what if they then send in the cops to kill you? Live Free or die, death is not the worst of evils.

    1. I have it from two old gay ladies who worked in the American Public Health and dealt with the issue, that CPS can be thwarted simply by changing counties. Changing states at worst. No need to give them a ‘causus beli’ to go to war on you.

      Evade, lurk, only pounce when necessary.

      1. :points at van full of murdered ‘minority’ children in Oregon:

        That works for gay ladies, not so much for unprotected groups.

  19. Oddly, the “ignorant but capable’ concept was how we raised the Smart & Crunchy. I told him early on that the world was always going to testing him, and very often he’d never even know there was a test until the results made themselves apparent. And that he needed to learn to ‘adult’, so to speak, as quickly as he could.

    Basically, I did with him what I wished my father had done – spent a lot of time with him, told him what I knew of how the world worked, told him my mistakes and successes, taught him better ways of handling money than I’d done. My lovely bride worked with him on the academics side, and helped him get a lot further than I’d gotten and… and it worked. He’s almost ready to graduate with a PharmD at 24. Proud? Hell, yeah. He’s a fully functioning, capable adult – and to be honest I wasn’t one until I was in my mid-30s.

    Kids are a LOT more capable than current culture allows them to be. We’ve done them no favors by sheathing them in bubble wrap and refusing to expose them to the ‘things that could go wrong’. The thing is, they NEED to learn, and need adults willing to teach them instead of indoctrinate them, AND they need the freedom and autonomy to explore the world around them. This is lacking in a lot of areas, sadly…

    1. We seem to be doing well on the tamping down of academic procrastination, of all things. It helps to have horror stories.

      I have no doubt they’ll get their own horror stories at some point, but it is useful to teach them at a young age how to spread the work out.

  20. make sure I could do laundry
    My mother’s approach to that: Wait until I’m old enough to undress for gym class (6th grade, iirc) then start washing my white underwear with the red bath towels. You don’t want pink underwear, do your own wash.

    At least that’s the way I remember it; she’d probably disagree – or laugh and say, “it worked, didn’t it?”.

  21. Parents’ entire job is to teach their children to be competent adults that can function in society.

    Part of that is teaching them all of those survival skills that look like work, such as cooking, and cleaning, and car maintenance, and sewing, and carpentry, and budgeting, and checkbook balancing, and… and.. and..

    They don’t need to be taught at a master level, but everyone should have basic skills in them by the time they leave the house. We’re talking: sewing on a button and being able to top off the reservoirs in your car with the right fluids in the right amounts. Knowing how to read a tape measure, and how to do your own taxes.

    The other part of it is teaching them how to get along with other people, i.e. manners, and how to alleviate their boredom without destroying things.

    And yeah… it’s way easier and faster to do things yourself rather than teaching your kids by letting them help you, or making them do it themselves. Especially when your helpers are young, or inattentive, or don’t understand or retain all the words you use, or don’t have an adult’s fine (or even gross) motor control. But how else are they going to develop any of those things if their parents don’t ever let them help?

    1. I got all of the list, except car maintenance. That came under “that is what your grandfather is for”. Grandpa was a mechanic. Dad didn’t work on his vehicles. (It wasn’t because we were all three girls. We were expected to learn how to camp, fish, and hunt.)

      1. My dad made sure all his kids had basic car knowledge. We couldn’t get our license until we could change a tire, replace brakes, change the oil (back when cars were actually designed so that non-professionals could do that), check all other vital fluids, and gap and replace spark plugs.

        He also made sure we could all repair a hem, replace a button, iron our clothes that needed it, wash all our clothes appropriately, and plan, cook, time, and present a nutritious and palatable meal.

        1. Ummm…Your Dad’s given names weren’t “Robert Anson”, by any chance? 🙂

          Ref: “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” – Robert A. Heinlein

          FWIW, I agree completely.

  22. The no spanking movement has largely turned in to the no discipline at all movement, creating many lawless terrors.

    I had one incident in a line where where a little boy was repeatedly poking me in the back, I turned to look at his parents and they just looked like deer in headlights.

    At times when I babysat, in a similar situation, I would have very gently physically restrained the child, and then forced a public apology (from the child) to the victim. But I understand from a friend who worked at space camp that all of those actions could be illegal for a non parent now. 😕

    Still, the parents could have, and should have. And I think it is fear of the state taking away the kids preventing any kind of correction on behavior.

    This is leading to utter lawlessness as adults.

    I think the left thinks all evil comes from outside, and if no evil is ever encountered, if they can keep children in a walled garden then evil will die. (This is the root of the communist idea of creating a year zero, where all the evils of history are forgotten.)

    As someone with a more conservative frame of mind, I think the snake is in the garden.

    1. The worse consequences one can impart in Scouts is the threat of “will call your parents to come pick you up”. Which was a Signed agreement with parents. Not sure even can do this anymore. Worse if a scout has to be excluded from activities. Or can’t come unless one parent comes. But then can’t come because having parent there makes it worse … I’ve heard of all these. Remember troop scout leaders are volunteers. They are not professionals trained for this. There is training, but even the trainers are going off of their non-professional training and experiences.

      1. That’s still an option. Our troop hasn’t had to employ it for years before I joined. But the prior scoutmaster did have a tale of that happening at summer camp, of all things. We’re at the point where I don’t have to come along on campouts (ASD kids often need a parent for longer, and I had to do very few interventions), but I will on the fun ones and just hang out with the parents.

        Right at the moment, we have a really friendly group of boys, and their favorite non-scheduled activity is a card-based game called Quest (which is utterly bonkers, BTW.) My dad’s troop used to do commando-style Capture the Flag—you know, after dark, in dark clothing, utterly silent.

        1. Not exactly employed the option of “your parent will be called to come take you home”. But have had a few opportunities to embellish having a scout (in one case scouts) getting picked up early from summer camp. Headed for Philmont … Could have forgone summer camp. Chose not to. Plus scout parent was one of the few who could be there most the week. (Another scout parent came in when son & I had to leave. Took Philmont contingent to Portland airport, including dad and son, had 12 glorious days to myself 🙂 I had to do the summer camp duties. One of two parents who could actually get a week off in the summer. Everyone else, including hubby had to take leave without pay IF he could get it approved. Philmont is the one he demanded, and until he was on the flight out, work could have … not sure they would have dared, but could … deny it last minute. And yes, it was leave without pay for him to go.)

        2. their favorite non-scheduled activity is a card-based game called Quest (which is utterly bonkers, BTW.)
          This sounds interesting, but the word “Quest” isn’t enough to narrow it down. Can you tell me more?
          Is that the game’s full name?

          1. Fucking WordPress. Okay, let’s try that again:

            > “their favorite non-scheduled activity is a card-based game called Quest (which is utterly bonkers, BTW.)”

            This sounds interesting, but the word “Quest” isn’t enough to narrow it down. Can you tell me more?
            Is that the game’s full name?

          2. I’m not entirely sure I understand it, but it’s kind of an RPG with a deck of cards as the randomizing element, and the ideas are totally bonkers to begin with. As in, “I want to be a flying toaster pastry.” (Draws a low card, game master tells them they are something totally different.)

    2. A toddler was running loose at a photo studio, hitting people. The mother was ignoring him, in part because she was holding a baby and trying to look at proofs and such. No one stopped the toddler. Then he got to me. He hauled off and started to hit me. I intercepted his hand with my palm (his punch stung. He was strong) and said in a quiet, cold voice, “I hit back.” He beat feet back to mom. Then he got under the desk and unplugged the photographer’s computer. She didn’t say a word. I’d have stopped him before that point, because it was getting dangerous for him.

    3. Pizza shop. Booths with tall backs. And a family with an uncontrolled kidlet standing up on the seat and annoying those in the next booth, which was… us. Pa was remarkably patient, I thought. There was NO WAY that I, or my younger sister, could have gotten away with ANY let HALF that. Finally, he’d had enough and loudly proclaimed at the kidlet, “YOU SPIT ON ME ONE MORE TIME, I AM SPITTING BACK!” And BLAM that kid was HAULED DOWN right quick and kept down.

      1. In my years as management in the restaurant industry, I took care of the “kids running around the dining room and their parents being oblivious” by never asking the parents to do their job as parents: it usually got you a half-hearted measure and the kids running around again soon after with the hapless “parents” giving me that “what can I do?” look. Instead, I dealt with the children directly, blocking their path, telling them, “you cannot run around in my dining room, you will get hurt when a waitress carrying a food tray falls because you are in the way”, and physically “lead” them back to their parents table, talking to the kids ALL the time and ignoring the parents. “Here’s your table and YOUR seat- you need to stay in it.” If a parent ever objected, I would reply, professionally but firmly, “Children are not permitted to wander around the dining room during service — THEY might get hurt.” and walk away without waiting for a response. In my fantasies, I would have liked to say, “the chef will not begin preparing your breakfast meal until your children are seated.” It helps if the owner or higher-level management backs you up.

        1. It helps if the owner or higher-level management backs you up.

          This…and you can tell a restaurant where they do versus where they don’t by the quality of service.

        2. Yup. Most of the time, you don’t have to touch a kid to get him to go where you want. I think being a stranger/business acquaintance (instead of a parent/relative) facilitates this, which is both good and bad.

  23. I was ready to argue, seeing your “Look, children are human.” sentence, and copied it to insert here, but reading your following paragraphs I could see your thoughts aren’t far from mine.

    I tended, when raising them, to think of kids as apprentice humans, savages to be civilized, narcissist to be socialized. Parents work them through their apprenticeship, send them out as journeymen . Anywhere from 10 to 50 years later said journeymen may, or may not become master craftsmen at the art of life.

    Spanking. children don’t start out as rational beings. you cannot reason with a two yer old. My daughter was born in NYC, her first 3 years there before we moved to Alaska. One of the first things I taught her was when I said stop, I meant stop. It wouldn’t be good if when walking a New York street she started to run out into traffic, and I said stop but she kept running looking over her shoulder saying, “Why Daddy, why?”

    So! during her early apprenticeship if I said stop and she didn’t she’s get a swat on the butt. Pain’s nature’s way of telling us you hadn’t otta do something, a time proven tool. Better a butt swat than being run over by a New York taxi. Reason doesn’t work on a two year old.

    Later years, as they became more rational, still a few spankings, physical punishment but mainly social, “I told you that was wrong, I explained why and you said you understood, but you did it anyway. Go to your room for the next two hours!” or “Damnit boy, if I told you once I’ve told you a thousand times, be careful where you point it, this ballistics lesson is over!”

    Beatings. Spent a couple of years in Catholic boarding schools. First around the fourth grade, second, my choice, as a high school freshman, having forgotten the cons, only remembering the pros of such. The school, St Leo’s, was modeled after the British public school system, head master, his cane, Bloody Joe the VI, senior ally, lower students caught there beaten by the seniors, etc. Now, with a 70 years later perspective, in spite of a few canings and senior maulings, glad of the experience, things I learned there, people I met (Ringling Brothers wintered in Florida, hence had circus kid friends.) that I couldn’t have gained anywhere else.

    Bottom line; children don’t come with operating manuals, we the parents work it out as we go along. However we can and should compare notes, also consider how our Mas and Pas and Grands did it, while keeping in mind that what works with my little Johnny may, or may not, be the way to go with your little Jenny.

    1. Reason doesn’t work on a two year old.

      I have never, ever, once uttered “You are reasoning and arguing with a two year old … and Losing!”. Not once. Thousands of times, maybe. But not once.

      Also was a fan of consequences. Or just because you want your way, you don’t get it. Spent some time standing in the middle of a aisle at the grocery store because a grumpy tired two year old wanted to leave. Acknowledge he was tired. Also pointed out that throwing a tantrum meant not leaving faster. Happened once. That is all it took. No yelling (on my part). No swat. Just didn’t get his way. Got a lot of dirty looks. Got more than a few thumbs up. It was exhausting. It was hard. Kid was a believer of the follow through before he went into kindergarten. We never had to spank, timeout, or grounding (on the reserve, but never had to use).

    2. My eldest is the reason we had a kid harness (shaped like a monkey.) There was no reasoning, but there was also no hearing—I’m pretty sure his ears turned off when he started to run. So having him in a harness outside, or at church, meant that I didn’t have to physically hold his wrist hard enough to leave a mark.

      Incidentally, that was a strong leash. I picked him up by the “tail” more than once.

      1. We didn’t use the harness regularly but we had one. Anyone with a toddler at Yellowstone, and a few other National Parks are crazy if they Do Not Have Their Toddler on a child harness. Age 5 we dropped it. But we had both 5 year olds (had niece with us) repeat the rules before we got on board walks, sometimes before we got out of the truck. Then they were perfectly willing to whisper “Why is that man off the boardwalk?”, with pointing. Or other infraction. Two 5 year olds whispering aren’t.

        1. Around 1981, when my daughter was about 2, she loved to run off and hide in the clothing racks at Meijer when I was trying to do the grocery shopping. I started dressing her in overalls and clipping our dog leash to them. I remember one ‘lady’ expressing her shock at my doing that. I felt vindicated 10 years later when they came out with those toddler harness and leashes.

  24. The other thing about time outs is that there’s a lot of “not clear on the concept.” The theory of the time out is that the kid is behaving disruptively because they’re stressed or agitated, so you remove them from the environment that’s doing that to them, and put them somewhere quite to stabilize. That is, it’s not supposed to be a punishment, but a quick therapy. But back when I rode the bus regularly, over and over, I would hear parents saying to their kids, “Do you want a time out?” in raised, angry voices. That is, they were defining it as SOMETHING BAD to be done to the kid because the kid was making them angry. A procedure that was meant to be a therapeutic alternative to punishment was reinterpreted AS a punishment, because that’s how parents often think, especially when their kids are being a pain.

    For that matter, there’s an older analog to this, in the realm of adult rather than child misconduct. Consider the institution of the “penitentiary.” Yeah, that name derives from “penitent,” meaning someone who is reflecting on their sins and regretting them. The penitentiary was intended to be an instrument of moral regeneration that called on the conscience of the criminal; it wasn’t meant to be a punishment. But for a long time, penitentiaries have been horrible places, and people gloat over how the people sent there will suffer, and no one actually supposes that imprisonment ever reforms anyone, even though we have the whole system of probation that pretends otherwise.

    It makes me wonder if it might be better to go back to honest retribution, and not pretend it’s something else. Certainly Heinlein seems to have thought that way. Perhaps it’s a sort of hypocrisy to gloss over the reality of the process.

      1. I remember very fondly the day our 4 year old daughter changed gears mid tantrum and wailed that she couldn’t write when she found work because she didn’t know how to write and her 10 year old brother said, “You better hurry up and learn because they aren’t joking.”

        He’d had a paper route for a year by then.

        1. Our son. I laid down some rules on an spontaneous activity (last time that happened). Reasonable rules with consequences. But some of the youth on the outing said “You won’t do that!” … Son’s response was “Do Not Test Her. She 100% will.” Given the activity no guaranties on consequences when they got home. (Which we did hear about from a couple of parents.)

          Might have involved excessive muddy clothing, which was NOT going to be worn in either of my vehicles onsite (occurred many times), no matter who was driving it. Everyone had non-muddy spare clothing to change into. There were other vehicles. There was the ability to wear rain gear over muddy clothing, inside out if needed … uncomfortable. There was calling parents to pickup said muddy child. No one took me up on any of the consequences. More than one were in stocking feet when getting out at home (boots in back of pickup).

          They had fun.

      2. Never used that one. Ours was “You do not get your way. Keep Yelling. Will not work.” Hard on others. They weren’t my concern.

      3. My solution for tantrums is to look the kid dead in the eye and in a very serious voice tell the kid to not smile. The child is absolutely, under no circumstances, to smile. This gets repeated for emphasis a few times, at which point the kid is almost always smiling (despite attempts to force that smile into a frown). When this happens, I point out that the kid is smiling, and tell the kid to stop Then I transition to ordering the kid to not laugh…

        After a couple of minutes of this, the kid is generally howling with laughter. Drives a kid nuts when you pull this on one trying to throw a tantrum because it screws up the whole screaming and hollering thing, and replaces it with a giggle fit.. But kids can’t help themselves.

      4. I’m very physical, so tantrums often ended up with me picking up said child and holding them upside down. Not saying a word, just making it weird for them.

        It worked.

  25. It is important not to dictate what they do with the money, too, whether it’s buying an ice-cream (even older son succumbed at times) or putting it in the bank.

    One derangement I’ve heard of among certain factions of the more cultic religious is to give their kids an “allowance”, whose only allowable purpose is as a tithe.

    First of all, a forced gift isn’t. Second, why are you ensnaring your kids to go through this pointless ritual except to make you look good? Third, all the forced gift and deception is going to do is make them hate the religion you are trying to keep them in……… on second thought please do it more, ensuring their escape from what you are doing is a moral good.

    1. Our friends made the kids tithe from their allowance.
      We never did. If they wanted to donate for something specific, say victims of a local fire, or something THAT WAS THEIR CHOICE.
      I felt hellofbad when we were so tight there six years ago, we BORROWED from them, knowing we might lose it. But we didn’t, and we paid interest.

      1. Latter-Day Saints have a flat “10% of your increase” rule for tithes. So kids will be expected to pay that out of their allowance. It gets kids in the habit of doing so early on in life, before they start handling large amounts of money.

        However, Latter-Day Saints don’t pass a plate at meetings. All tithes are made privately, and payment is on an honors system.

    2. Haven’t run across that, but I have seen cases where kids too small for allowances wanted to feel grownup by putting money in the basket as it passed around, and the parents would give them a dollar or a couple of quarters for that as part of the Sunday prep routine. I don’t question your personal experiences, but if you’re hearing about this enforced tithing at second or third-hand, maybe take it with a grain of salt? People who are bitter about their ex-anything, from spouse to religious organization to political party, have been known to exaggerate from time to time.

      1. Given Ian’s background, it’s 50/50 on if it was directly observed, or if his parents got heat for not doing it at their church.

        1. We had FRIENDS who did that We couldn’t explain to them why it was wrong.
          We did the a quarter each thing, because they wanted to put something in. (And two of them, so we only had ONE check.)

      2. Considering that there are many people in the mainstream who think a tithe is a mandatory thing, is it really that much of a stretch to think that someone with a screwed up outlook would take it a couple more steps?

        Beware that you aren’t falling into the equal an opposite mistake of assuming that because you had a good childhood where things were done innocently, therefore no one ever had a warped one.

        1. I repeat: I am not questioning your personal experiences. Your phrasing seemed to me like this was a practice you were at a couple removes from, which is why I gave the response I did. If I misread, then I apologize.

          1. Haven’t seen it directly, no.

            I also know that people who haven’t seen bad situations will make up downright psychotic levels of evil in the victim of abuse rather than believe that anything could have been even slightly awry.

            1. :points over at CrossoverQueen’s blog:

              The tithing thing sounds like a variation on the ‘put it in the bank’ requirement– I think that was in Mary Poppins? Been years since I actually watched it, though.

              I’m biased against tithing because as I was taught, beyond the pay-the-worker level, using it for “charity” is a no better options choice.

      3. Hmm, nope, enforced tithing is definitely a Thing. Although I can’t swear to it being out of “allowances”. The parent who went to church made we kids tithe out of the money we earned.

        (He later stole all of it we’d saved from our accounts before I – the oldest – turned 18. So.)

        1. Pa basically left the church (he left, was kicked out, does it matter?) after some “representative” tried to guilt him into some charity and he responded, intellectually, “with both barrels” pointing out the hypocrisy and anti-biblical nature of the cajoling. I seem to have inherited his “respect” for Organized Religion. What individuals so, is Another Thing Entirely. One is Personal, the other is just dressed up Communist monday-friday-ery.

            1. He was baptized and received the other initiatory Sacraments. Ergo, he is Catholic.

              Is he a good Catholic? Does he teach Catholic doctrine well? Is he occasionally doing just enough decent administration on saints and the Blessed Mother to try and get brownie points with the faithful, while messing with people most of the time?

              Those are different questions.

              Some people, you just have to sit back and refuse to let them mess with you. It doesn’t matter why they are doing it. They want you not to understand their motives or goals.

              (Many saints have practiced this around annoying, cruel, stupid, or capricious superiors, using it to build patience, fortitude, and humility. Of course, a lot of Catholics do not know this tool because of the modernist lack of teaching the lives of the saints.)

              Things could be worse. Hopefully the next guy will be better.

              1. Well, I would say Pope Benedict is a good Catholic. The guy (who from an admittedly very outside perspective looks like he will be recorded eventually as an antipope) currently occupying the office space? Indications would seem doubtful.


                1. He certainly wouldn’t be the first; there are enough listed here…

                  Click to access 4_Antipopes.pdf

                  …to form a platoon of them, although the current denizen was canonically elected. Buyer’s remorse, a la Brandon? Maybe so, but we’ll never know.

                2. I also would like to point out Francis might NOT be Catholic. Because I don’t think we’ve rescinded the excommunication of Communists. Have we?

            2. Wheat, tares, harvest.

              Consequently we need some other standards, it not being harvesttime yet.

    3. Well… once I was old enough for neighborhood jobs, half of my payments went to my dad for college money. He’d write down the amount, and buy a bond when there was enough. I think that was a decent practice, especially since I ended up cashing out that last bond after I graduated. They were very up-front about it, and that if I didn’t go to college, it could be used for other expenses.

    4. This isn’t a religious thing. For some time, magazine articles and “life coaches” have been recommending that parents insist children divide their allowance into parts. A part to save, a part to donate, and a part to spend. For example: https://theweek.com/articles/719856/simple-exercise-teach-kids-how-smart-money

      I did not require my kids to do anything with their money. It is theirs. If I were to require them to follow my program, they would only be complying with my wishes, rather than learning about handling money.

  26. Did lots of chores as a kid. Also earned to milk cows, weed, garden, get eggs away from angry hens, can and otherwise put up food on my grandparent’s farm. I started babysitting for spending money when I was 10. Hubby was raised the same way. Minus the baby sitting. We both had stints with paper routes.

    Did our best to teach the kids the same. We especially wanted them to all be able to cook and do laundry because we didn’t want them to get married or shack up with someone because they were hungry and didn’t have clean clothes.

    Our boys had paper routes for spending money. (Which is no longer a thing for kids.) Girls did baby sitting. Everyone did something. The question would always be, “So you want a new bike, art table, motorcycle or whatever, what can YOU do to make that happen for yourself?”

    But self sufficiency was a thing in our family. Our kids wanted to race BMX and there wasn’t a track so we asked the city for a vacant lot to use and built one for the kids of the town. We ran it but everyone was welcome to use it and all the kids with bikes had someplace safe to ride. That lasted until the city sold the lot to a welding shop and we couldn’t find another place to set up a track. We had state champions come from our little track and some kids even raced at nationals.

    We sponsored soapbox derby events, soccer, baseball, basketball and wrestling tournaments. We worked with the church youth group and helped with city projects etc.

    The idea being, if you want something done, you had better be willing to do it yourself and not expect the government or anyone else to do it for you. But it’s also good to do things for the community to help provide things for others who do not have your skills.

    The people I know who have young kids these days seem to just want to pay people to do things with their kids because they are at work all the time and are too tired. Or don’t know you can just do stuff yourself.

    1. I’ve gotten the impression that these days, if you left your kids alone with someone under 18 looking after them, you would have the child welfare authorities descend on you, and you might lose custody on grounds of neglect or endangerment. If that’s accurate, there goes the market for babysitters.

      1. Depends on state, and some places even put in certification programs (emergency aid and such) for baby sitters. Not required, as a “look, I am responsible!” thing.

    2. For several years as a kid, I got my spending money by recycling paper. My father worked for a company that processed seismic data from the oilfields. In the 1970s the data was on tape, but the processing was done by mainframe computers which had to be given orders on punched cards. Used cards were worth between $70 and $140 a ton, depending on market conditions – that was high-grade paper. The volume of cards wasn’t worth enough for the company to assign someone to recycle them, so my father got me doing it freelance.

      I learned a bit about earning my own money then, and also about the difference between real work and useless makework (but that is another story). I also learned about how real recycling works, and how a free market responds to demand by finding a supply. Hint: It isn’t real recycling if people do it because the government orders them to, and the resulting product is of so little value that other people have to be paid to haul it away. The market price of post-consumer recycled paper has been effectively negative for a long time now.

      1. One of troop’s early fund raiser was recycling newspaper. That disappeared early ’00.

      2. The key is: If you save it, do they PAY you for it, or do you pay them to take it away?
        If you pay them, it’s trash collection even if given another name.
        Aluminum, and copper, and some other metals are recycled.
        Almost all the rest is glorified trash collection.

        1. I did see a fascinating video on glass recycling a couple of months ago. They have all these machines that sort the trash from the smashed glass, optical sensors with air hoses to puff different colors in different directions, and then what they do with the finely-crushed glass pellets (insulation, which is spun out like cotton candy.)

          Glass is still worth money. It’s just so heavy it’s hardly worth it to take it to the recycler.

  27. Three things ‘I’ learned as a parent… FWIW, 1. Never ask a child what they ‘are’ doing (they’re going to say nothing, because they aren’t doing anything), ask them what they WERE doing. 2. Teach your children how to read and give them access to books! 3. Teach them the value of money (via allowance or earning money for chores over and above what they normally have to do like keeping room picked up, etc.).

    1. Aye. The greatest gift my folks (mainly Pa, I suspect) gave me was simply leaving his good older textbooks around where I could read them. The result was that I taught myself basic chemistry (at MY pace..), elementary electronics and some radio, and a good many other things I can’t recall for sure. The one real annoyance was that there seemed to be no good mathematics texts. Considering it is Universally useful and is something of language unto itself, this was something of a puzzlement. Math introduced in other texts made sense, usually. The “derivation” of resonant frequency from capacitive and inductive reactances was… the very definition of elegance, I thought when I first encountered it. And yet all the stuff that should have been there to support it was… as if it was purposely made dull, like one needed to in some wretched Secret Society to get at the good stuff in a sane way.

      1. no good mathematics texts

        Because they were rare?

        I struggled in the Differential Equations class (not that Calculus 101 and 102 were a lot of fun, but those were my own issues). That stuff didn’t make sense until the next semester in a basic circuits class. Senior year, I took a complex variables course, and the instructor made extra effort to tie the math to real world examples. Heresy, but we loved it.

        13-14 years later, I went through the DiffyQue book to look up something relevant to my MS coursework. That book was beyond horrible. If it hasn’t been walled, I’ll dump it when I go through the books in the shop mezzanine. There are good math books, but it was a rare treat to encounter one.

        Disclaimer: I’m a retired engineer, never was a mathematician.

  28. important not to dictate what they do with the money

    Only child. So the chore/money list was “Do this before I do and you get X.” We also saved change that went into his college fund. Dictate of money.

    X% – went to the government. College fund … but point was “this is how the real world works”
    X% – went to savings. Because you pay yourself first.
    X% – Free, whatever (within reason).

    He also did scouts – Tiger to Eagle. Now cub level they do get rewarded for “Trying”, more reward for “Doing”, and more for “doing multiple times” (Belt Loops, all Webelos Awards instead of just minimum, other non-standard awards). BSA Scout to Eagle, “Trying” is not awarded (and isn’t that a shock to both the 11 year old and their parents, those that stick it out however, aim for the big award). It is “Do & Show” it is “Discuss”, it is “Write”. Our Eagle struggled with the latter two. “Do & Show” were not a problem. He’d rather “Write” than “Discuss”, but getting him to “Discuss” was a PIA.

    He sure didn’t get any of his work ethic from school or kid sports. All those trophies are gone (labels with his name pealed off and in scrap book with sports pictures). All his pinewood derby trophies OTOH are intact; he earned these.

    The result? Now it is like pulling hens teeth to get him to spend money on himself. He works. Is a supervisor at work. Does not want to move up because next step is salary exempt, and they have a lot of forced overtime. As a supervisor he gets a smaller bonus percentage than his direct manager, but because of forced overtime, which he gets paid and his manager does not, who still must be there, there are pay periods, even counting bonus difference, he makes more than his manager. He is currently being headhunted by a similar company. He was headhunted his senor year in college for his degree, which he would have done, if the three companies hadn’t been bought out for their patents (causing the headhunters, who watched him grow up, scrambling for their jobs; one succeeded). There were a couple of other headhunters too, but nepotism was frowned on. Is it nepotism if cousin-once-removed-inlaws? Just asking for a friend 🙂 He would have been working directly for either, so answer was yes, dang it.

  29. “If you do historical research, as I find myself doing, one way or another, a lot, and for reasons of historical voice and verisimilitude read auto-biographies or letters of the time period, you find that children, sometimes as young as four were working, contributing members of the family.”

    Yeah. I was snapping beans into a five gallon bucket, weeding, and drying the dishes about that point in time. We had an old twisted blade mower that got some use when I was big enough to pull the thing, too. Not a patch on what my parents and grandparents did, but we helped out with clothes washing and the like about that time, too.

    Giving children work that has purpose, as early as they can physically do the job, is best. Things that have a definite start and endpoint, that you can see the difference between job start and job stop- those are important lessons there.

    1. At 12 and up, my mother swore on a stack of Bibles that I was the only one who could make our crotchety riding mower run. It may even have been true; see “crotchety”. But on the other hand, we had 3.5 acres of yard to mow…

      1. Sometime around nine I started having to sometimes mow our yard with the gasoline push mower. Thankfully it was only a third of an acre. When we moved and had a yard of about 2 acres, my parents bought a riding mower.

        1. Our yard was on former cotton-farming land, with traces of terracing still left. I used to reward myself after all 3.5 acres were done by turning off the blades (I was a CAREFUL kid, don’tcha know!), putting the mower into 5th, and trying to get a little air off the ex-terraces. (My mother never found out, or she would’ve killed me before the mower could.)

  30. I do however remember being followed around for days and browbeaten, my character taken apart, and motives ascribed to me that had never crossed my mind

    Ah, that lovely reminding constantly that you could do better and that nothing you’ve done measures up to your potential.

    Me, having trouble trying to do anything at 55 because of that lingering reminder from 6 to at least 19 than a decade in the military which runs on it (and now having a team lead who can put 5 comments of things you got wrong on a thee line code change in a code review isn’t reinforcing it at all)?

    I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    1. “…team lead who can put 5 comments of things you got wrong on a thee line code change…”

      Yeah, that guy. He’s the guy that makes self-employment such a beautiful thing.

      1. I’ve heard of team leads that are that way, second hand. Never experienced it. Worse I ever got was “I can tell your code” … implying “shouldn’t be able to”. Tough. It worked. It was clean. It was commented. Followed standards as given. Took as a complement. Besides, nothing was said until After I Retired.

      2. Only one question remains: were there actually 5 different things wrong as defined by spec and customer requirements? If so, accept that you had it coming and keep working to get it right.

        Too many young software types these days won’t accept the correction…. and too many older ones, seeing them get away with it, adopt their bad habits..

        1. Generally the case is that -all- code changes have minimum five things wrong when you get That Guy as team lead.

          This is similar to the PT manager who comes along to correct your form when transferring a patient from bed to chair. It doesn’t matter how you do it, it is always wrong. Especially if you do it exactly the way they told you last time, then it is -super- wrong.

          I have seen that elephant, and measured his tusks.

          If you’re a licensed professional and some jackass comes along to correct your form on a simple operation they teach in first year, get an employment lawyer and polish your resume. You will be needing them both.

    2. Sounds familiar to me, too, from a military veteran bringing that into his Odd stepson’s life…

    3. Argh, code reviews. I’ll probably need to start leading those again now that I’m getting some junior programmers again. Lately I’ve only had to review design at the start and comments from testers.

  31. I don’t put much in the way of demands on the young relatives. A lot of people were assholes to me when I was a kid, and I will be damned if I pass that along.

    Kids are smart enough to figure shit out on their own. You leave them alone and don’t pound away at them 24/7 with demands and ultimatums, they step up. Freedom works. Amazing right?

    I’ll tell you something else for free. If you don’t break a kid’s spirit by sticking them in school/jail their whole young life and make them follow the insane and capricious dictates of unionized public employees ten months of the year, they will learn more and faster than any kid their age. They will do it naturally, like breathing.

    Best of all, they won’t come home crying at the end of every single goddamn day because it was so boring they nearly died and the other kids were mean.

    Young parents, pay attention. Here endeth the rant.

  32. It’s not working well for society, particularly, either. I mean, we’re now facing a whole generation which has some number of people who think work — any kind of work — is unfair and should be abolished. No, seriously. If you haven’t looked at the anti-work movement….. don’t if you wish to sleep at night.

    Like the creator of this sign who probably thinks there is no work in gardening (hence “eat free”):

    1. Good luck with that. There are only so many carrots I can eat, and if you can’t eat wheat or tomatoes, well, we have a problem. (See also Adam Smith’s “On The Wealth and Poverty of Nations” when he explains how currency developed.)

      1. There is a Tom Wolfe essay called something like “The Great Relearning” where he notes docs in towns near hippie communes having to treat diseases with names the “the rot” and “the grunge” that were related to poor hygiene and had been eliminated before Latinizing disease names picked up steam by simply using soap. But hippies were convinced no one before them knew a thing and had to relearn 10,000+ years of history about the advantages of going from hunter-gathers to civilization.

        There is also Heinlein’s comment about this idiots not realizing a steel tool implying a steel mill, iron mine, coal mine (or scrap metal industry and electric plants for the latter two in the US today).

        Looks like the Millenials want to follow the Boomers in needing this relearning.

        1. One of H.G. Wells’ later novels, Joan and Peter, anticipated Heinlein. It has a scene where the real protagonist, Peter’s uncle Oswald, is listening while Peter’s parents and their friends talk about how wonderful being natural is. Oswald holds that a plowed field is superior to wild land. They object that a plowed field is part of “the natural life of man,” and Oswald then asks if that means that a plow belongs, and a foundry, and a coal mine, and a good stout pair of boots, and reading (your farmer at least needs a calendar) . . . and then the man he’s talking with suggests that the discussion has become fanciful. It’s amazing how little some things change.

    2. They’ve never heard the joke about “Growing your own tomatoes is the best way to spend three months of your life saving $2.17.”

      1. LOL

        Something like that.

        I do try to grow my own herbs and peppers and, at least for the latter some varieties would save me money…because I want Anatolian and Levantain varieties for which even seeds only have 1-2 supplies in the US much less specific fruits in a grocery store.

        Have yet to get much yield though (and sitting this year out).

      2. They also probably think subsistence farming leads to a better lifestyle than modern life…the ones who complain about factories owners not allowing people to have all the free time medieval peasants did.

        1. Then by all means they should have the opportunity to find out! Let them live the subsistence farming lifestyle for a few years and see how they like it.

          If they survive, they will be less stupid.

          1. Imaginos1892 said
            “If they survive, they will be less stupid.”

            That IF is huge subsistence farming is hard work and even a well trained skilled farmer can have a bad yield. And if they (as seems likely) want only use “natural” fertilizers and not use artificial irrigation things get even dicier. I give your average Tranzi/SJW about a 1 in 1000 shot of surviving 2 years. 100 qatloos against the tranzi

    3. I planted 191 beans yesterday. Mr/s “Practically Free” can come tell me how easy it is over the creaks of my aching glutes and quadriceps.

      (And I do grow food instead of lawns. About 1/4 of my “lawn” is edible or medicinal, and I like it that way.)

      1. I think I might have mentioned this song before (or another from the same genre playlist), but there is a very enjoyable song with lots of musical call outs to early psychodelics about peace, love, and free stuff once we get rid of “the system”:

        The end of the second verse (before the first chorus) was typically millenial:

        Said my people got no name and we don’t have a nation
        We know our place is waiting on your minds liberation
        There’s a glitch in the system, of conventional wisdom
        ‘Till we make our decision to get up and give them

        Walls for the wind
        Shelter from the rain
        Something for the hunger
        And something for the pain

        “Give them”, assuming they all just exist.

        There is a shred of insight in the third verse which leads to the same chorus:

        They hailed it as the dawn of a new civilisation
        They didn’t need the workers they had full automation
        Technological vision, our subliminal prison
        ‘Till we made our decision, to get up and build them

        “to get up and build them”…if only people got that message a lot more of what they wanted would be achieved. As much as the “practically free” crowd is clueless the handful who follow through and do the work can make more of the world they want (and probably temper the desire for the most extreme version).

        Sadly, the last verse, four, returns to the lame, empty headed Marxism of the first two:

        Justice rolled like water and the paradigm shifted
        Freedom was the reason, but the script had got twisted
        And so we moved onto, this significant junction
        A legitimate function, of the means of production

        Until they realize they are the means of production if they just do the work they’ll achieve nothing.

  33. I’ve had the title of this post running through my head all day, it’s just so generally applicable. Some idiot risk parity fund blew up and the bottom fell out of the markets. All the books will tell you that that can’t happen, yet it does all the time. Common sense conflicts with the textbooks and common sense wins yet again.

    BTW, they figure 2/3 of the Chinese economy is under strict lockdown, but that’s OK because experts.

    Gah. God save me from bloody experts.

    1. (Paraphrased) “Oh, the tragedy! An elegant theory slain by inconvenient fact!”. Reminds me of most of the current “climate models” and their [lack of] relation to reality.

      Happens all the time, and they never seem to learn.

  34. If you work retail, especially in a children’s department like I used to, there are ways to deal with problem children that do not involve touching them. Heck, there are even ways of making them run back from outside in the mall toward their parents in the store, without touching them or being scary.

    It is a sort of authority projection, like you do with dogs? You just sort of expect them to do what you are telling them, and you say it calmly, and sort of act like you are a wall. And the kids turn around and go back, and a lot of times are more calm.

    That said, most kids acting up in public are just bored. As a retail person, you can talk to them and ask them questions. Or you can sing. Or you can give them a free box.

    1. One of my favorite stories from working kids shoes:

      Family comes in one evening: mom, dad, preteen boy, preschool girl. The girl, Jessica IIRC, runs in and points out that she wants this one and this one and this one and this one and this one. So I measure her up, and in the minute it takes to grab her sizes from the back, she’s decided that she hates all of them. I get the nod from the mom, so I go to start putting the first pair on. Cue the blood-curling shrieking in my ear.

      I looked her square in the eye and said, “Miss Jessica, you can scream all you want. I’m still putting these shoes on you.” She stopped and looked at me like I had grown another head. Crying wasn’t going to get her what she wanted?!

      The parents bought the shoes and moved on to the neighboring boys section to buy some clothing for the brother. Well, that left Miss Jessica bored, so she decided to hide from her parents in front of the jeans round rack. (Right next to my department, and I had no more customers.)

      After listening to the parents beg, plead, and cajole Miss Jessica to leave to no avail, I went over to the rack, pushed the jeans aside to create an opening, and said loudly and calmly, “Miss Jessica, you can come out on your own or I can pull you out, but you’re not going to stay there.” Scramble, scramble, run over to mom. The mom even suggested that they should send Jessica to my house for a week. I passed on that idea.

      1. Two warnings, then a count to 3, and if she still hasn’t complied, the issue is forced, usually by picking her up and moving her.

        We are at the point where “Evalyn, do I have to start counting?” usually gets her moving

    2. In my misspent period in retail sales, I worked in a department store fur salon – and our universal dread was sticky-fingered small children running between the racks and touching the very expensive furs.
      So, I used to corner them and tell them that the furs were chained to the racks because they were sleeping, and if they were wakened and unchained, they would leap down upon disobedient, bad children and bite them…
      And the other story I would tell, was that stray children were rounded up and handed over to store security, where they would be kept, fed, and trained as sales associates when they were grown.
      Yeah, that would attach them to the parental units – all but the few who looked interested and hopeful – “Really? Can I start now?” (and sometimes the parents would look hopeful, too.

      1. I tell the kids who try to fight that they have to wait until they find the official Sams Club Fighting Arena of Doooom.

        I have also been known to tell kids that if they don’t go home, they’ll have to stay and do inventory all night. (I used to say mattress testers, but that sounds hinky these days. Man, it is sad not to be able to use old jokes.)

    3. I liked the store that had a sign that “Unattended children will be given candy, or puppy, or kitten …” The staff were tasked to ask “Where is mommy or daddy?” When kid pointed well away from them, the next line “Please ask mommy or daddy whether you’d like a kitten or puppy?” Somehow the littles stopped being left alone, during that visit anyway.

  35. My kids have been doing their own laundry since they were really little–yes, with supervision, and with laundry pods they didn’t have to measure out, but still. I think oldest was 5 and youngest was 3.

    My oldest has outside chores–mowing, moving heavy things (“Inside stuff is girl chores!” So, he gets the heavy, smelly indoor stuff that he agrees is boy chores…and I don’t want to do). My youngest has inside chores and some gardening stuff.

    They are responsible for the hall bathroom, the family/tv room, and their rooms, and they help me with other things.

    They get paid for some things, but not others. It’s not capricious–it’s getting paid for “extra” above and beyond what we’ve asked them to do.

    I have noticed that mine whine a lot less than a lot of their classmates that have no responsibilities…

    1. Our first Poison Hotline call was because the two and a half year old jimmied a door and climbed on top of a washing machine to help do laundry… switched from dry stuff to liquid, then.

      1. I was putting the soap in, then having the kids load their own clothes into the washer. The oldest shifted his from washer to dryer–the youngest (at the time)…yeah she was just too little to do it without me pulling her clothes out and handing them to her. Imagine little kicky feet sticking up out of the washer and a tiny voice going “Mommy, I falled in, an’ I need help out.” Really cute, but…yeah.

      2. > “the two and a half year old jimmied a door”

        Precocious little criminal you’re raising there. 😛

        1. But of course!

          I also teach lockpicking, how to remove a door that you can’t open, sledge hammer padlock removal (less brute force than you’d think), how to snap chains, how to break into your own car, etc.

          You can best defend against a threat you know how to duplicate.

          1. You’re somehow giving me both Florence Ambrose AND Sam Starfall vibes at the same time. Stop it; it’s weirding me out. 😛

  36. The thing is, stuff I can do as a retail person (distraction, box bribery) is not what parents need to be doing.

    Kids can learn how to behave in public, albeit at different rates and so on. That can be part of parents running errands with kids.

    Parents can learn, too.

  37. Now CPS is taking kids from parents according to modeling and AI. Oh, wait, that means you don’t actually have to be sneaky, because that cr*p will be entirely random.

    Are you serious? Are you fucking serious?

      1. If you find it, let us know. That’s freaking horrifying, and makes me think “crosses lining the Appian Way” is a calm and measured response.

  38. when i saw the title, i was going to respond

    “IF we’ve been profoundly wrong, there would still be a Soviet Union.”

    maybe that still applies.

  39. There’s a fundamental difference between teaching your children to work and paying for their labor, and forcing them into work that is beyond them and does not need to be done.

    One is how you teach children that they had to earn their keep, one way or another.
    The other is just sadism.

  40. Sarah, sometimes I wonder not ‘in what country’, but ‘on what planet’ did you grow up.
    I’m a redneck (northern Middle Tennessee, with flavors of East Texas and West Tennessee). Actually, on the Texas side, I come from straight-up prison-rat white trash.
    We have understood, & do understand, that sometimes you intentionally make life hard for your children: it teaches them to solve problems, and if the problems can’t be solved, they learn to deal with failure. Both are valuable skills. We do love our children, and spoil them a little when we may, but we don’t want a yellow-brick road for them. Life isn’t that way, & life is what we’re training them for, both this and the eternal one.
    “Can we stop & get ice cream?’ Yes, occasionally, if they’ve been good. “I’m going to throw a tantrum if I don’t get ice cream”? Going to be a long time before ice cream, & you’re not getting a Coke anywhere, either. Now be quiet.

      1. Look, I expect some shock from asking if we were wrong in banning child labor. It has been a project of the west for so long.
        BUT starting up with that nonsense and then going on about making children’s lives INTENTIONALLY difficult (Which is NOT what I said, at any time) is on the level of “American non sequitor society. We don’t make sense, but we like pizza.”
        I mean, if it were Colorado Budd, I’d know what to blame, at least.

  41. Child-rearing is just the tip of the iceberg. Whenever I get a little too full of myself, I recall what Oliver Cromwell asked the general assembly of the Church of Scotland “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.”

    What else have we gotten completely wrong?

  42. I was just listening to a podcast that covered the same topic (Adam Carolla) He said that we are raising kids in zero gravity, then we are surprised when they all have brittle, weak bones. So now our term when we see a kid acting out, “Zero Gravity”

  43. Oh, I forgot to mention that last week, I saw a kid climb out of a shopping cart via the “chest” of the cart. He lifted up the metal thing and slid through, like an overhead door.

    I am glad it did not fall on him….

      1. Well, if you think about it first and if you are a strong kid — a reasonably safe action.

        Safer than climbing out of the cart over the top, because that weight shift is really dangerous, and the floor is farther off.

        But it was a non-obvious way to go about it!

          1. I think the kid started moving before the parent could do it… but usually they start climbing out before their parents can do it, which always puts my heart in my mouth when they look like they’re not keeping their weight level enough.

            I mean, my parents stopped putting us in the cart when we started trying to get out on our own… but yeah, I’m sure I’d give myself gray hairs, too.

        1. thinks I might have done that at some point? It’s not all THAT heavy, you hold it up as you go under, but the cart’s got to be long enough in proportion to the depth.

  44. Work was created and modeled by God starting in Genesis Chapter 1. It did not start as a result of sin.

    The devil has ALWAYS asked, “Did God really say that?” And our best answer is to quote God, not make up something that sounds vaguely holy.

    Adam and Eve fell because they were concentrating on the wrong thing. They had access to all of the fruit except one tree. And they ignored their abundance.

    Children should not be left without work (study, chores, hobbies, whatever). They should not have much unstructured time until after they develop the skills and SELF-discipline to structure their own time effectively.

    To let them alone before that time (with TV, videogames, or internet) is, at best, abuse. It can be, as many have discovered to their horror, fatal. Lookup how famous serial killers were raised. Look up Gabby Petito and her killer. Look up the kids in prisons for drug offenses around the country.

    Self-inflicted wounds bite, don’t they?

  45. Yes, young children want to help. If you don’t let them help when they are young, they won’t want to help when they are older and more able.

  46. A while back I was sitting behind a young family and the baby (maybe a year old, probably not that much) was repeatedly hitting her mother with a toy truck. The mom just put up with it.

    The child hit her mother again and I shook my head. She looked at me and hit her mother again. I caught her eye and shook my head. She mimed hitting, looked at me, saw me shake my head again, and dropped the toy. She didn’t hit her mother again.

    Kids learn, and learn well. They are never too young to learn, although they might be too old.

    I’ve also worked with severely autistic children. I see them hit, bite, scream, etc., with their families. They only try that with me once. They quickly learn appropriate behavior and behave with me entirely different than with their parents. Breakdowns are an entirely different issue, of course, but those are the exception rather than the rule.

    1. They definitely can be too old to learn. I used to tell parents, it may be cute at 18 months, but just imagine them doing it at 5 (or 10 or 15!!) and stop it now.

      1. My eldest had no boundaries about climbing up on people’s laps if they had a smartphone or other device. I’d tell him to not do that, and the people would usually say, “I don’t mind, it’s cute.” And I would respond, “It’s cute now, but it’s going to take me years to break him of this habit, so if I don’t start now, it won’t be cute because he’ll be huge.”

        And their eyes would get big as they suddenly understood a truth of parenting they’d never thought of before.

        1. I run into that with our dog. What is cute for Pepper, even at age 6, is not cute for RCPete’s Kat, even as a less than year old puppy. Or when on Pack Walks, what is cute when Pepper dances around because she wants to play instead of work (not allowed to get away with it) is NOT cute when the Great Dane or Bernese puppies do the same “dance of protest”. Pepper is a Pom/Chi, and 16#s. Great Dane and Bernese puppies are Not 16#s by the time it is safe to take them on these walks (vaccinated). Not training small breed dogs is how small breed dogs end up in shelters. Happens to large breed dogs too, but at least there is an expectation that large breed dogs are to be trained.

          1. Kat’s pushing 40 pounds of occasionally unguided muscle. (Thanks, D.N. for the metaphor!) Small but really strong border collie. She’s grown and now can rest her head on the keyboard when I’m using it on the kitchen island.

            The really hard part is getting her to stop treating the leash as a tug toy. (Muses that she doesn’t have any tug toys. Would it help?)

            1. Muses that she doesn’t have any tug toys. Would it help?


              OTOH it is a fun game. Bet she’d love a Flirt Pole. Pepper knows “loops”, her favorite tug toy.

              really hard part is getting her to stop treating the leash as a tug toy

              Two things that I have found that works.

              1 – When dog pulls. Stop. Do not continue until dog releases tension on leash, or returns to your side, depending on your goals. Downside, not going anywhere very fast.

              2 – She pulls forward. You go the opposite direction, no warning. Note, do not do that with a dog who weighs almost as much to more than you do. Both of you end up on the ground. Tasha OTOH quit pulling with me on the other end of the leash. (She was one of the inlaws malamutes we used to dog-sit. She weighted 130#s. I weighed maybe 140#s wet, at the time; I do not weight that now, dang it.) At least you both keep moving. Still don’t get anywhere very fast. Does teach to keep leash slack and to pay attention to you.

              Both work best if using a martingale collar VS harness. I use a flat martingale on Pepper. Just tight enough she can not slip out of it. She slips out of regular collars and harnesses. Martingale harness would work too, but I want a handle to use to help control vehicle entry and exit (too small to let jump out on her own, handle lessons the impact).

              Option #1 works with Pepper. Option #2 shuts her down. I have to regularly use Option #1 when we are hiking with hubby. Hubby gets ahead and she pulls. She is too little to allow her to pull me uphill (or downhill for that matter, bad for her, bad for me, if only because that means I go sprawling … stupid knees). Otherwise she can drag a long line or I work her hands free with a regular leash (over shoulder).

              Option #2 was the only thing that worked on Tasha, or the German Shepard I had at the time.

              1. Pulling on the leash happens when she’s a) fully awake and b) going to the kennel. (Predator country, and as a pup we’ve not let her run free. It was easier for Angie the BC, because Sara the lab-aussie would herd her if she got loose.) Kat’s an only dog, but we’re not up to two anymore. Hoping to try leash-free with supervision once the weather clears.

                Where it gets crazy is when she’s awake (fairly docile at 3AM, but I’m an early bird, and she’s not) and I leash her up in the kennel. She wants to bite the leash and go full rodeo. Half of the time, she’ll settle down when the kennel door is open, but if she’s wound up, it’s lively. I think she’s treating the leash as a tug toy, which is why I’m thinking of a rope based one. Bitter apple didn’t bother her earlier. Hmm…

                We had a little bit of thunderstorm activity last night. Didn’t get to watch the DVD. Kat’s a fear barker/chewer. (Thunder wasn’t audible to us, but we noticed the rest. Not looking forward to a full summer blast, but we’ll have a bit of light stuff this week to practice.)

                1. Pepper is off leash rarely. I do practice it. Just don’t use the feature.

                  When I say “hands free” she’s on leash, just leash is setup to work like over head & shoulder strap, or around my waist (hiking likely, gives her longer leash; shoulder works in stores and when I want her heeling). Hands free will not work with a dog pulling on leash. (Not the one I use, but example: https://smile.amazon.com/oneisall-Hands-Multifunctional-Training-Double/dp/B077SY92QS/ref=sr_1_5?crid=31JSPBEI8QKI4&keywords=hands+free+leash+for+small+dogs&qid=1651976369&sprefix=hands+free+lea%2Caps%2C212&sr=8-5 )

                  Long leash still has someone at the other end (well when practicing in backyard it is probably a cat on the other end, great toy for the cats). Not used on most trails as most trails are 8′ maximum even for service dogs. Technically the regular hands free leash is longer than 8′ but not in either configuration it is used.

  47. Children can be adorable little savages. Recently my sister was telling her three year old son to “Be nice to the baby, we like the baby.” And that feral child responded “Actually I don’t like the baby.”

    I laughed so hard when she told me.

    1. We’ve been trying that when the border collie starts barking at the three cattle grazing on the ranch next to us. (Our neighbors want a couple sides of beef each, and one has lots of poor-quality land. Still, good enough.)

      “Kat, Mama likes the cattle; they keep the grass low.”
      “Woof, growl.”
      “And I like them too.”
      “Woof, woof? Play!”
      “Good girl!”
      (thought balloon. “I wonder if one is named Chuck, another Porter. Does that mean the last is Round?”)
      (We don’t have enough freezer space nor desire for that much beef to participate. I need to look at chicken house plans to make one winter-safe.)

    2. Out of the mouth of toddlers.

      Of coarse not. Now the toddler has to actually, you know, Share the adoration of parents, the work of parents. Our Cats were the same way when our baby came along. OTOH we didn’t expect to Reason with our cats. Reasoning with a toddler makes as much sense as reasoning with cats.

      1. We were worried about Eldest.

        So we got her a kitten.

        …. we didn’t need to worry, she was DELIGHTED with the baby, but the kitten didn’t hurt things, either. 😀

  48. One of your best post, Sarah. I’m all for adding a hunting/gathering component: you don’t catch you don’t eat.

  49. Normal humans instinctively want to be useful. In Paleolithic society, men hunted, women gathered, and girls tended the hearth while adults hunted and gathered. The tradition of the Vestal Virgin was ancient when Rome was new. If you have nothing to contribute, you are a burden and your life hangs by a thin thread. Millions of years of evolution have bred that instinct into us. We spend 12 years beating that reflex out of children.
    Richard Arkwright, Cyrus McCormick, and Thomas Edison were homeschooled. McCormick’s father was a farmer and a blacksmith. Thomas Edison started work at 14. The Wright brothers never finished high school. David Farragut joined the Navy at 9, went to sea at 11, and commanded his first ship at 15. Hiram maxim left school at 14 and apprenticed. Robert FitzRoy, the Beagle captain who took Charles Darwin around the world, attended the Admiralty school from age 12 to 14 and went to sea. On the job training is education as much as Geometry class or History class is education.
    There’s a reason that “academic” has become a synonym for “irrelevant”. It does not take 12 years at $15,080 per pupil-year to teach a normal child to read and compute. Most vocational training occurs more effectively on the job than in a classroom. State (i.e., government, generally) provision of History, Civics, and Economics instruction actively threatens democracy, just as State operation of newspapers and broadcast news media would threaten democracy (and actively suppresses democracy in totalitarian States like Cuba and North Korea).
    Please read:
    Ted Kolderie, “Does Confining Young People to ‘Adolescence’ Need Rethinking?”, Minnesota Journal,
    (ymd = 1999–5-18). Search “Citizens’ League, Minnesota Journal”.
    Ted Kolderie, “Is it Time to Reconsider the Notion of ‘Adolescence’ “, Education Evolving(2001-Jan.).
    Edwin West, Education and the State
    F. A. Hayek (ed), Capitalism and the Historians

    1. The Wright Brothers never finished high school officially, because they moved to Indiana with their parents rather abruptly. Wilbur put in all four years and was eligible for a diploma; I don’t know why he didn’t get one. I don’t think the Indiana town had a high school for Orville and I don’t know that he cared. But their dad had a freaking library of advanced subjects plus theology.

      The older brothers, Reuchlin and Lorin, went to high school in Cedar Rapids when their dad was pastoring there, and both attended college for four years but ended up not getting degrees. Reuchlin did a year as an elementary school teacher, but ended up as a bookkeeper. Lorin also was successful as a bookkeeper.

      And the math sister, Katherine, did go to high school and graduated from Oberlin too, fully supported by Dad. She taught high school, helped Orville with the business, but eventually married an old flame from Oberlin.

    2. Do you believe most of our newspapers and mass media are not operated by a totalitarian state? Why? Just because the government doesn’t do it officially?

    3. The root of “scholarship” is related to the word “leisure.”

      This was something our logic and philosophy teacher told us our frosh year, with the strong implication that academics is a luxury that we were lucky enough to be able to afford, so don’t waste the luxury.

  50. With a physical beating, assuming it is SEVERE, you can show bruises/scares/etc. and be believed instead being told (by ARSCHLOCHER!!!!) to “suck it up” or “walk it off”or other utterly USELESS FRELLING BILGE!

    Honestly, it’s AMAZING that I am NOT an arsonist. I’ve met more than a few folks who UTTERLY AND COMPLETELY DESERVED to have EVERYTHING THEY OWNED AND LOVED burned to ashes. And to HELL with there GOD-DAMNED! feeewings! Call it a.. LEARNING EXPERIENCE.

    Lucky for them, ox really, Really, REALLY, REALLY fscking SLOW!

    (T. Schreiber, if you are reading this: YES, YOU!!! And you DAMN WELL KNOW WHY!!!)

    1. For any damned fool who thinks I should “forgive and forget:,. that was from at the MOST RECENT, 1979.
      “Herr” (MARE!) Schreiber can suck-start a chainsaw. Or do I need to make myself even more clear on this?

      I do NOT ‘hold grudges’… I have the things stuffed and mounted. I have ZERO illusions of that.. anti-BIOTIC creature ever apologizing, let alone actually doling anything to GENUINELY counter his ACTIVE EVIL. Demons that show themselves as demons are MORE HONEST!

      1. Oh most gracious and elegant ungulate sir, might I please have permission to borrow your “stuffed and mounted” phrase for a Familiars book?

  51. After years of being totally out of touch with the world (homesteading in Alaska), on my return to Oregon in 1967 it was a culture shock to learn that kids weren’t ALLOWED to work for pay. My kids WANTED to work and earn money. No more picking strawberries or beans or hops, or any of that good healthy outdoor stuff. It wasn’t like they would be working in sweatshops; but no, we can’t have child labor.

  52. I went to a Catholic School as a wee child for a couple of years in the 60’s. My teachers were nuns who must have been at least 100 years old, trained and hardened long before Vatican II; they were habit-wearing nuns, not the modern pants suit nuns. ‘Self-esteem’ was not a concept they entertained, especially not for Kindergarteners and First-Graders. I was terrified of every single one of them, but I learned academics and I learned self-control, and I also learned that I was not the center of the universe. Did me a world of good in the long run; pity there are so few of their kind anywhere any more. Instead, children are put the charge of green-haired and pierced pre-school teachers who are so needy that they must use tiny children to facilitate the therapy these teachers so clearly require.

  53. Agree strongly that kids need responsibilities from a relatively early age.

    One of my longest-standing hobby-horses is the entire ‘self-esteem’ movement. Self-esteem is, in a word, bullshit. It means feeling good about yourself without reference to any underlying accomplishment.

    The word you really want – and what we all need to talk about for both kids and adults – is Self-Respect!

    Self-Respect requires actual accomplishment, having done things that are difficult and require effort.

    1. You need responsibilities, and rewards for doing the thing you don’t necessarily want to, but need to.
      And the earliest you get that….
      And honestly, what’s greater self-respect than knowing you’re bringing in money or doing something the family really needs?

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