Human biology and evolution favor us in the ease of the process of procreating children but it doesn’t make the job of raising them easy in any way. That’s one reason why parents have such a hard time raising a child. It isn’t instinctive to us like copulation seems to be.
One may doubt this subject I aim to address as beyond my area of expertise. After all, I’m a fifteen year old kid. How am I to know about the troubles of parenting? Maybe you even see me like a rebellious teenager aiming to tell how parents should raise their kids.
That’s not what I intend to do, however. I’ve had opportunities (mainly out of curiosity) to get to keenly observe how parenting is usually done. One can start seeing patterns and common paths parents tend to choose by doing this. This obviously even reveals the faults we make as parents. Here I wish to breakdown misconceptions about parenting and to veer one away from the instinctive path to parenting which is not very effective (and rather pointless I feel).
Listening to a kid will give someone more insight on parenting than reading clichéd checklists and “tips to become a better parent” on the Internet or even talking with an adult psychologist (unless they’re talking to the expert about their misunderstandings). Yet, I will not share my ideas from a teenager’s perspective. But I will look from a place above both parents and those being parented, at the art of parenting that is pursued by the majority in the way it truly is.
Since parenting, rather just thinking is hard; some try doing the next most instinctive thing. Making the kid their way. This is the simplest (and I think most meaningless) way to raise a child. It is also the default way a child is raised. The child essentially becomes a copy of the parent.
The problem is, each one of us lives a very narrow life. It’s only possible to get a limited pool of experiences. And:
“… no amount of deduction applied to statements describing a set of experiences can reach a conclusion about anything other than those experiences.”David Deutsch (The Beginning of Infinity)
This profound thought means people are limited by their own personal experiences. And as most go into adulthood, they start forming these fixed ideas about how things should be. These “shoulds” are a product of their limited experiences. If a father created a startup in his youth, was very enthusiastic about it, and worked hard on it and the startup failed, that father would most certainly be against the idea of his kid, young, enthusiastic and determined, wanting to start a business. But if that father came to this conclusion by his experience with starting a startup (and most people will often do so) then that’s a very wrong way to reason in this world of infinite possibility that father seems to not be able to comprehend.
That’s why deduction is a faulty way to reason. In individual terms, our deduction is based upon our limited experiences. As Deutsch implied, we cannot reach a conclusion through deduction about anything other than what we have as our set of “data” to be deduced upon. And our conclusion may certainly be false due to our limited data.
The parent tries to (consciously or unconsciously) make the child just as the parent is. Or if not exactly that, then the parent cares only about making the child as their desire is for them to be. However “unselfish” their desire is for the child.
The biggest rift that can be caused between child and parent comes from this: parents having set out intentions and ambitions for their children which they do not share.
Parents’ fantasies create these ambitions for their children. And this drive for their children’s life to be headed in a certain direction without the child being as interested as the parent in it robs a lot of peace in the house.
Having intentions for your child is like creating an AI. You tell it to perform a set of instructions by ingraining programs into it and you expect it to execute those programs (your intent for the child). This steals the child’s originality.
Stop creating robots.
Also, if a child’s ambition is something that differs from the parent’s, that’s hard for most parents to realize. They feel the child is theirs. Hence the child must do what they want the child to do. Because the child is a part of them. But that’s just not realizing you’re getting lost in fantasy again.
Instead of making space for a blank slate for the child, parents craft objectives and set out paths for the child even before it is out of the womb.
Having intentions is not the way to go. Sooner or later, it’s going to cause distress and rob off joy from either the parent or the kid. Or perhaps both.
As people grow up, some start developing these extremely rigid, unalterable beliefs about the world. These get created, of course, through the individual experiences each one of those deeply entrenched-minded persons go through. And when they see their kid (who may have different experiences than the parent did) explore or form these beliefs that are different or contradictory to the parent’s, then things start getting ugly very quickly.
Parents coax their child to not think like that. They make the child feel like an impostor for holding such a different belief. They don’t even listen to what the child has got to say. They don’t want to learn their misconceptions about reality, but only fix what they firmly think are the child’s.
All of sudden (although it’s never a sudden change) when the teenage kid starts to question some really fixed authority—someone she’d dare to question before—the parent gets surprised and very displeased. The parent tells the rebel: “That’s wrong.”
But is it really?
These infallible parents are the ones I think who’re wrong here. I’m not speaking from the teenager’s perspective. But from what’s the best way to really know what’s right and what’s wrong. Being absolute in thinking and not allowing any criticisms to your idea is a sure-fire way to reach ignorance about reality and become a follower (and preacher) of some dogma.
By trying to fix a child, they’re fixing something that ain’t broke. That’s messing up something completely all right.
Parents think their job is only to teach the child. But that’s just another misconception.
“Adults are fools. Children are wise. For children everything is new. The adult hasn’t seen a new thing in years.”Kapil Gupta MD
Only teaching and not learning from such pure, precious beings who are unpolluted by the thought of the “real world” is such a great opportunity gone wasted.
Teaching is not a one-sided job. By being open to ideas, one can learn so much from children who are fortunate enough to have a broader, more curious lens than one would originally have. But parents care too much about their pride to fall so low as to be learning from their children. They say, “Don’t teach me. I’ve seen the world much more than you have.”
A simple thing they don’t realize is, one can be colorblind and still see the world. Seeing the world more doesn’t matter if you’re seeing it in an inhibited way. A child with unbounded possibilities can broaden your limitations but only if you don’t aggressively shun him before he has the chance to.
Not knowing that one has a lot to learn from the child, perhaps as much as if not more than what they teach the child; is a huge misconception and puts the parent at a disadvantage. It’s again pointless to not get wise when you easily can by the act of listening.
Conclusion: they’re insecure
There’s one reason I could infer why parents go along following these misconceptions by default (and don’t change their irrational habits even after they can comprehend their lack of judgment). This is it: They’re insecure. The question is: are you—or perhaps—are you still going to be?
Lastly, I’m not sorry if I was a little too harsh speaking the truth in this post.
But I may be wrong and I may have misconceptions about what I think are parents’ misconceptions. If you found anything worth criticizing in this post, please do so in the comments (below) or tweet at me or send me an email.
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