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Raising Objectivist Children

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Homeschooling? I certainly have. Although neither of us are Masters degreed, so we are not qualified. I was homeschooled, despite also attending public schools. Up to grade three, I was judged to have a learning disability because I could not read or write by then. That's when Mom stepped in with text books and "Listen & Learn with Phonics" records. I played the records and flipped through the books, just entertaining myself, and not really trying, but a stunning metamophosis happened to my reading skills the following year--I became the best reader in the class in fourth grade. Mom compelled me to go through mathematics textbooks and do the lessons within. I learned shortcuts to adding and subtracting large numbers that I use to this day (and my wife is mystified how I arrive at correct answers so fast without a calculator).

Frankly, I learned nothing in school, except that kids can be cruel and destructive. Public school destroyed my self esteem and that set me back forty years. Now as I approach retirement age, I am finally starting to get over those personal issues, but I've lost of lifetime of prime years. I hope Amanda doesn't have to go through such a childhood.

Hello,

I stumbled upon this site this evening, found the conversations interesting, and decided to register. The references to homeschooling in this thread caught my attention in particular. As I homeschool my daughter, I am somewhat familiar with some of the concerns expressed here regarding homeschooling. While it may not be for everyone, it has been my experience that one need not rule it out for fear of being unqualified. I don't think that any state requires a Master's Degree, for example. I just checked on Connecticut, for which there's no parental qualifications requirement. All you need to do is cover "reading, writing, spelling, English, grammar, geography, arithmetic, United States history, and citizenship, including a study of the town, state and federal governments." Any one of the intelligent, thoughtful, articulate people that posted on this topic is more than capable of homeschooling, if they so chose.

As for the expense: The expense varies as there are so many different ways to homeschool. I am a "private homeschooler" and pay for all of my own materials. While it's more expensive, I have complete autonomy from governmental interference. When you sign up with a government charter school or virtual school (like William Bennett's "K-12"), you get all of your materials (including a computer) free; though you are then considered an extension of the local public school district and subject to their scrutiny. For instance, you must meet with a state-certified teacher once a month to have your work reviewed. Most homeschoolers that choose this option don't experience problems with the arrangement; others find it a little too big-brother for their liking. (For reasons I won't get into, it's a raging controversy among homeschoolers these days.)

There are some great websites where those that are interested can learn more. In addition to the nuts and bolts information (curriculum reviews, support and advice, etc.), there are interesting discussions. The difference between schooling and education... What is meant by socialization - and is it best achieved in a conventional schooling environment? Passive, dependent learning v. active, independent learning... Anyway, here are a couple of my favorite sites: BestHomeschooling.com, A to Z Home's Cool (homeschooling.gomilpitas.com). --Sorry this post is so long! :(

lia92688

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I stumbled upon this site this evening, found the conversations interesting, and decided to register. 
Welcome to the forum. Thank you for your post.

As for the expense:  The expense varies as there are so many different ways to homeschool. 
Depending on one's circumstances, the biggest "expense" can be the reduced salary of the parent doing the homeschooling.
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Hello,

Hello, to you & welcome.

As I homeschool my daughter, I am somewhat familiar with some of the concerns expressed here regarding homeschooling.

...I am a "private homeschooler" and pay for all of my own materials.  While it's more expensive, I have complete autonomy from governmental interference.

There are some great websites where those that are interested can learn more. 

Sorry this post is so long!  :(

Thanks for you input! I really appreciate the info & links. Please don't apologize for the length of your post. It was all quality content.

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  • 3 months later...

Hi all. I'm new here.

I'm glad that this thread exists because I have been curious about this topic for quite a while. I don't have any kids, and I thought that I should probably educate myself about this in order to prepare myself for when I finally do have children. I'm glad to see that so many people here have kids; I hope that you may be able to help me clear up my confusion.

You have discussed the matter of home-schooling. My own questions about parenting are much simpler, so I hope I am not dumbing down this conversation by asking them.

First, I would like to ask for your opinion on how to teach a child to respect other people's rights and to show courtesy to them. For instance, the neoconservative Dinesh D'Souza (who made some rather dirty cracks about Ayn Rand in his utilitarian Virtue of Prosperity) said something along these lines: Let's say you have three kids, and then you give them a tricycle to share, and then one of the kids declares to the others, "I want to ride it all the time!! I don't care about your turn!"

This is the part where conventional parents admonish, "Tommy, don't be selfish!"

I have a problem with that word, since I don't like how people use it to equivocate rational concern for oneself with exploitative behavior.

What is your opinion on parents using that word -- selfish -- to reproach their child for bullying or otherwise mistreating others? I would think that it would be more appropriate to scold a misbehaving child by saying, "Don't be insensitive" or "Don't be exploitative." But does it make sense to use such big words with a small child who wants to hog a tricycle for himself?

Furthermore, when the child gets older, how am I going to explain to him or her why I think the word selfish refers to something good while everyone else says it is bad?

Or am I making too much of a big deal out of the word selfish to begin with?

Similarly, I want to raise my child to be confident in his or her own rational abilities; I don't want him or her to think it's okay to bamboozle other people.

For that reason, I want to ask you what your position is on Santa Claus. It seems to me that if I play that Santa Claus game with my child, then, when he or she finally realizes there is no Santa Claus, he or she will have good reason to distrust me. After all, if I expect my child to believe in honesty and objectivity, then aren't I being a hypocrite by fooling him or her into believing in a supernatural being?

If, on the other hand, I make my child aware that there is no Santa, then there's always the chance that my child will tell his or her friends there is no Santa. My fear is that that would antagonize the parents of just about all of my child's friends and then no parent will let their kids play with mine. I wouldn't want my kids to lose all their friends in such a way. How hard is it to find parents who won't mind it if my kids tell them that the Santa thing is based on dishonesty?

Maybe you can set me straight on these things. How can such matters be addressed?

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For that reason, I want to ask you what your position is on Santa Claus.  It seems to me that if I play that Santa Claus game with my child, then, when he or she finally realizes there is no Santa Claus, he or she will have good reason to distrust me.  After all, if I expect my child to believe in honesty and objectivity, then aren't I being a hypocrite by fooling him or her into believing in a supernatural being?

I decided awhile ago that, if I am ever a parent, I will not tell my child that Santa Clause is real. If I'm going to play a game with my kid, then it's going to be a game in which we're both willing participants. It also establishes a corrupt metaphysical outlook; that entities can exist which possess attributes that are unknowable to humans. However, there's no reason why I can't celebrate the image of Santa Claus with my child- as a fictional character. Santa Claus represents wealth and abundance, and giving gifts as a form of appreciation to those who one values.

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I would like to ask for your opinion on how to teach a child to respect other people's rights and to show courtesy to them.

First off, let me say that I don't have children myself, and at least at this stage of my life I'm not certain that I ever intend to. Therefore, please approach the following comments with an appropriate degree of skepticism and caution:

My views on raising children are extremely simple, and can be summed up in a single sentence: Treat your children with respect.

If a child grows up in a home which is rational, conducive to inquiry, and which overall radiates a sense of happiness, benevolence and goodwill — if a child is raised in an environment where he feels that he is respected, where the modus operandi of day-to-day life is to treat oneself and others with dignity and honor — it's virtually certain that this individual is going to grow up with a healthy, nearly-innate sense of right and wrong — and will likely commit very few wrongs, since "right" feels much too natural and normal to him.

Or to put it another way: People who enjoy a high degree of self-confidence and self-respect — i.e., people who take pleasure in the efficacy of their mind, who are in love with life and the pursuit of rational values — typically don't go around clubbing others and taking things from them by force. This is just as true of someone who is five years old, as someone who is fifty-five.

It's usually fruitless, and even counterproductive, to punish a child for being unfair, or hurtful, or exploitative, or insensitive — if the lessons he's learning on a daily basis contradict what he's hearing in that moment in the form of a scolding or reproach. The best one could hope to accomplish with this method is to instill a kind of fear-based, authoritarian sense of morality — not to mention a feeling that the world is uncertain, unknowable, and contradictory, and that ethical principles are commandments or rules to be accepted and obeyed, but not deeply understood.

In my work on romantic love, I'm continually struck by the degree to which people tend to accept as normal what they observed and experienced in their family life growing up. For example, I have talked with a great number of people who accept, virtually as an axiom, that fighting, bickering, arguing, and sometimes even hitting or other forms of physical abuse, are valid and normal aspects of a love relationship. And more: In their mind, to accept these atrocities as normal, is itself seen as "normal." (Not surprisingly, this kind of person always manages to find himself in exactly the kind of relationship which matches his concept of the way things, in this respect, "just are.")

Mind you, this kind of person doesn't necessarily enjoy being hurt, and he usually doesn't consciously seek out painful or abusive relationships. On the contrary, this kind of person will often be the first to tell you how awful, undesirable, and even unbearable such a situation is. What's missing, though, is any serious sense of indignance — the kind of incredulity and repulsion that one would expect to hear from someone who truly understands the inappropriateness of this kind of situation, and would never accept this kind of torture in his life — the firm sense that things don't have to be this way; that hatred and hostility (among professed loved ones) is not normal, unnatural, and entirely un-inevitable. And invariably — and I mean without fail — when you ask this kind of person to describe the home environment that he or she grew up in, you get a story which is virtually identical to the hell they're currently going through. All of the lessons — about how to treat others, about what one should expect of (and for) oneself, about the nature, meaning and value of life — all were learned and internalized at a very early age, then reinforced again and again and again, in a thousand wordless ways, throughout their childhood and adolescence.

I'm emphatically not saying that people are the pawns of their parents, or the helpless victims of their upbringing; I'm saying that parents can make it immeasurably easier or harder for children to grow up to be healthy, functioning adults by simply providing them with a rational, intelligible environment in which to live their lives. Parents often forget the degree to which, especially for very young children, the home is the world: They tend to underestimate the power of what's learned, not via lectures and lessons, but continuously, every day, by observation and osmosis.

The most basic thing I could say to a parent who wanted to create this kind of home environment, and instill in a child a strong sense of personal values, is: Teach by example. If you want to give another person anything in the spiritual realm (as well as in the material), it's immeasurably advantageous for you first to possess it yourself. Again, be acutely aware that for the developing child, everything is taken in; everything is taken seriously, and often taken extremely literally. Always ensure that, in the person of you (and your spouse, if you have one), the child has good things to see, to observe and to emulate. Be particularly concerned to show the child what it means to have a real enthusiasm for facts and for learning; for understanding, for question-asking and answer-seeking. Do not ever, under any circumstances, say to a child: "It's true because I say so," or tell him that he asks too many questions, or make him feel in any way that his mind is not capable of understanding certain aspects of life and the universe — and never will be.

It's very hard to manufacture or fake these traits of character, and kids are about the best insincerity-detectors on the face of the planet. There's no getting around the fact that if an individual hasn't yet developed these qualities and virtues in himself, then he is NOT yet ready to have children.

Regarding the question of Santa Claus: As a general principle, I don't think it's ever a good idea, nor is it ever necessary, to lie to children. I don't see anything wrong with treating Santa Claus (to the extent that one deals with him at all) in exactly the same way that one would treat any other fictional character: as a symbol and an idea, but not an actual living person. I don't see what's so terrible about a child knowing from the very beginning that the presents he enjoys come from his parents — something he's bound to find out eventually anyway, often with a great deal of resentment and hurt when he discovers that his limited understanding has been taken advantage of by the very people who are supposed to be guiding him in life.

I wouldn't worry too much about a child losing his friends, or being ostracized by other parents, just because he happens to know the truth about Santa's state of existence. (Now, if you want to talk about a backlash because you're raising your kids without a belief in God, then you might begin to have a point.) In terms of the child's own dealings with Santa-believing playmates, I think an important part of instilling in a person a strong sense of respect for others is to convey the understanding that others often hold different views, ideas and beliefs — and that one has to respect these too, at least insofar as one respects the individuals who hold them. A person may be very much mistaken about an issue, but that doesn't give another the right to become a bully toward him. It means communicating to a child the awareness that other people have the right to be different from him, and even the right to be wrong — and that a rational person's primary focus is always on his own thoughts, goals and life, not what others think and believe.

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Excellent post Kevin. A child learns everything from observation. What people say is less important. My kid has one friend who lies about the silliest things. On getting to know his family, we realized that his parents do exactly the same. Another is a bit too free with the use of force; turns out, his parents are too (with him). Scream at your kid regularly, and you'll find he becomes an angry little kid.

Parents are not the only source of observation. When my son interacts with a new group of children, he will start experimenting with some of their behavior. At his age (7), it is not overly cumbersome to decide whom he associates with. More importantly, as long as the behavior he sees at home (from his parents) and from some other pals is "good", he can be taught to emulate it. [Aside: Ideally, I would like my son to be able to walk among thieves and still remain honest.]

Of course, one should give a child reasons for things, and one ought not use words (e.g. "selfish") in ways that one considers to be incorrect. However, even at 7 years, the reasons only sink in "so far". At his age, I think the main message still is "there are reasons", rather than "these are the reasons". He "gets" some of the reasoning better than he did (say) at 5; but just barely. The main ways to tell him to respect others are: to tell him so, and to show him through one's own behavior.

In discussions with other Objectivists about Santa Clause :santa:, I found that attitudes were mixed. Some people think that it simply adds to the fun. Truly, I suppose it does, and I would not condemn anyone for telling their child that Santa exists. I have a friend whose kid got quite angry when she learnt that she had been lied to, but I suspect that depends on the age of the child and how you break it to them. Personally, I find it impossible to lie to my son. Except for a true emergency I cannot imagine a context where I could lie to him. So, I told him that Santa did not exist, and explained why it was great fun to pretend that he did. After that, we just pretend. I also told him that he is not to tell him pals. He probably won't.

The "God" issue is more difficult, because adults -- like his teachers -- are telling him God exists. (I was quite surprised when he told me one day that Jesus was looking over our shoulders :) .) He had to be told repeatedly that God does not exist. He went through a few weeks of trying to "smuggle" God into things -- as though he was trying out all the examples he was learning, testing to see if God does exist in some specific context. Then, he just gave up and accepted what I told him. He's never been curious about it again. He has been told that he should not advocate his idea to other people until he is older. [bTW: At his age, it is simply not enough to say that he should be given reasons like -- "you can't see God" etc.]

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The "God" issue is more difficult, because adults -- like his teachers -- are telling him God exists. (I was quite surprised when he told me one day that Jesus was looking over our shoulders :santa: .) He had to be told repeatedly that God does not exist. He went through a few weeks of trying to "smuggle" God into things -- as though he was trying out all the examples he was learning, testing to see if God does exist in some specific context. Then, he just gave up and accepted what I told him. He's never been curious about it again. He has been told that he should not advocate his idea to other people until he is older.  [bTW: At his age, it is simply not enough to say that he should be given reasons like -- "you can't see God" etc.]

I obviously don't know about your son in particular, but it's possible that you don't give him enough credit for reasoning (and that most parents don't, in general) - and therefore it might be worthwhile trying to upgrade the discussion rather than just saying "God doesn't exist" by trying to explain what's logically wrong with the whole idea, in different ways.

I say this because I was consciously an atheist at around his age, from my own logical reasoning. I still remember the exact context if anybody is interested in hearing about it.

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I am definitely interested.

This occured in 1st grade. Basically I attended an elementary school in southern Indiana, which is rife with religiosity. There was at least one kid that I couldn't stand who was constantly haranguing other kids about "God". I listened to some of his preaching (no doubt from his parents), which, at least as I recall, went like this: There's only one God. And, God is in the heart. God is in everyone. yada yada.

What occured to me was one of the logical contradictions of these statements, taken together. e.g.: Premise 1: There's only one God. Premise 2: God is in the heart. And a further premise 3: There are many people, each with one heart. Conclusion: If so then there must be as many Gods as there are hearts, obviously many more than one - so, this is all a load of made-up hogwash.

Not an advanced chain of reasoning, but not too bad for a 6 year old. On top of that I was really getting in to science, starting a lifelong love for it, and it was very clear to me early on that natural law is what explained the world.

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The "God" issue is more difficult, because adults -- like his teachers -- are telling him God exists. (I was quite surprised when he told me one day that Jesus was looking over our shoulders :santa: .)

I find this extremely alarming. What right does anyone have to indoctrinate your child about religious beliefs that you object to?

I would not take this lightly. I can promise you, if any adult ever told a seven year-old child of mine that "God exists," that would be the last association my child (or I) would ever have with that person again.

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As for the indoctrination, here's my take: there are many contexts in which we can expect our son to be told things that are false. For instance, there is hardly any school we could send him to where he would not be taught some amount of environmentalism and multiculturalism. Altruism... goes without saying.

What makes the assertion about God stand out from the rest is this: many people who would think it is okay to teach our kid altruism and environmentalism and multiculturalism, somehow think that it is wrong to teach him about their God. I myself do not make the distinction. When we allow him to associate with someone, we have to weigh that person as they are: with all their good and bad. His Montessori school is not catholic, but it may as well be. The little bit of God he hears about is far outweighed by the high quality of teaching he receives. In fact, of the three teachers that teach CASA, only one of them really tells the kids about Jesus etc. And, she was the one who taught our son. Still, knowing that, but also knowing how she taught everything else compared to the other teachers (none of whom was "bad"), we would choose her to teach our son again, over the others, in a heartbeat.

More deeply still, there is not much to be alarmed about. I myself was taught by Irish brothers, my wife was taught by nuns. Our parents taught us about God. At some point each of us, separately, decided we were atheist. I have always considered the notion of God to be one of the least alarming things someone could tell our son, one of the things he will most easily shrug off. It is the altruism, subjectivism, etc. that I am more concerned about.

(Note: Edited to remove a question that was already answered in a previous post.)

Edited by softwareNerd
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I agree with Kevin Delaney and softwareNerd.

Let's say you have three kids, and then you give them a tricycle to share, and then one of the kids declares to the others, "I want to ride it all the time!! I don't care about your turn!"

This is the part where conventional parents admonish, "Tommy, don't be selfish!"

I have a problem with that word, since I don't like how people use it to equivocate rational concern for oneself with exploitative behavior.

I would never give something to two or more children to share. This is just asking for trouble. Give it to one child and make balancing gifts to the others (perhaps rotate?).

When you are tempted to use the word "selfish" in a negative sense, ask yourself "Do I really mean 'inconsiderate'?". You should be able to find a more appropriate word than "selfish", if you try. Or it may be that the idea which you are trying to express is wrong, in which case you should just not express it.

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Wow! Thanks for all the feedback, everyone! You have given me a lot to think about.

"Inconsiderate" probably is a better word to use than "selfish"; I do remember occasions on which I heard an adult using that word with a small child, and the kid did seem to understand it, even if, at that age, it might still be a bit difficult to pronounce.

Indoctrination is indeed a problem. To this day I remember the many hours of environmentalist hokum shoved down my throat in grade school. The teachers really could have put that time to better use.

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  • 8 months later...

Hey there...just found this thread whilst digging through the site.

Since Travis (Lathanar) and I have been trying harder to focus on reasoning with our kids, we have noticed a great improvement with how they are figuring stuff out on their own and their behavior. We have 5 kids, from 4 to 15 years old, so we have a lot going on. Previously, we had been giving them, unintentionally of course, a lot of mixed messages of telling them it is okay to be individuals, but at the same time trying to tell them altruism was good and they should be willing to sacrifice things for the greater good at times. "Take one for the team" once in a while, so to speak. Because that is what being a family and being in a society means.

Objectivism isn't magic, and I still don't consider myself an Objectivist, but a student of Objectivism, since I have only been studying since the fall. However, it is amazing how just learning to apply some of basics has such a postive impact.

Here are a few of the things that I think studying Objectivism has helped us with:

- getting our 6 year old to reason on her own that there is no God or Santa

(she also said the following to us recently:

"With math, you can know everything; Math takes away the unkown." I don't think that has anything to do with Objectivism, but she has this whole math thing going....math and objectivism is a logical mix, though.)

- our 10 year old understanding the importance of integrity over popularity

- our 8 year old finally understanding that her "need" for the latest Barbie doesn't necessaitate an obligation on our part

- our 4 year old...ahhh...well, um...still working on that one...although she has started to ask "can I help daddy wash the car for quarters?" when we are at a store more instead of just whining for me to buy everything she sees. At least some of the time.

-15 year old son...he has had a rough year and perhaps has finally getting a hard lesson in JUSTICE. I think we have finally gotten it right. Hopefully this coming school year will be better for all involved.

Anyway, that is where we are now.

This is a great thread, and though I don't have a lot of competent content to add to it, as it is 4 AM and I am brain dead, I wanted to get it closer to the top of the posts. That way, perhaps another parent, or other interested person could find it.

Please keep adding...the more little rational people we put out in the world, the more rational people there will be in the world.

(that is as deep as I get this late/early.)

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I would never give something to two or more children to share. This is just asking for trouble. Give it to one child and make balancing gifts to the others (perhaps rotate?).

Sherry and I have adopted the idea that we no longer buy group gifts for the children, nor a gift for each to balance it out. With 5 children, this gets complicated rather quickly, and rather expensive. We're starting to take the route that the toys we buy for all the kids to play with are ours (mine and Sherry's). This turns fights about sharing the toys from a contest of wills to respecting the wishes of those who own them, us. If they are bad we can safely take away the privelege to play with our toys as punishment, and it no longer has the appearence of us using force to take their possessions away from them at will. If they break something, you can change the stance of not respecting people that have given them the gifts to the stance of not respecting the property of others.

We also have started to create chores above the normal ones expected that allow the kids to earn their own money. They are never forced to do these, they make a choice whether they want to earn money or not. When they save up enough money to buy something, it is theirs. We won't take what they've earned away from them in punishment. This so far has given the kids a better appreciation of value. They ask for a 3 dollar toy and we say, sure, it will come out of your money, and they go.. hmm.. nevermind, I want something else, or that's not worth it. It has also given them a better concept of budgeting and if there is no money, you simply can't buy something, rather than the 'I want, Iwant, I want' chorus.

This is all pretty new stuff for us, but the results have been remarkable so far.

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I think your money-earning chores idea is excellent, but doesn't it kind of contradict your first idea, where it is better if they do not own toys, in order to avoid arguing over them? I would think that if you just implement the same chore principles in they way you present gifts, sharing and breaking things, there would be no problem. (Although it is probably easy for me to say "no problem" when I have no kids).

Also, I know this is touchy and I have no idea how I would communicate this to my own kid, but don't you actually "own" your kids, at least until a certain age? When I was a kid, I didn't think exactly like that, but I was well aware that my parents had the final say because they were the bosses over everything. (This worked well until adolescence).

(Btw, my parents had five kids, too, so obviously I know you're crazy)

Edited by JASKN
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I think your money-earning chores idea is excellent, but doesn't it kind of contradict your first idea, where it is better if they do not own toys, in order to avoid arguing over them? I would think that if you just implement the same chore principles in they way you present gifts, sharing and breaking things, there would be no problem. (Although it is probably easy for me to say "no problem" when I have no kids).

I never said it was better if they do not own toys, if I gave that impression, I'm sorry. What I was trying to say with my first point is that gifting everything is confusing to kids. We want to teach our children what ownership really means. By just giving them unearned things, it makes it increasingly hard to get rid of the collective attitudes that we were setting by 'stop fighting and share the toys' and reinforcing the ideas of unearned wealth. It's hard to justify 'no you can't play with her toy' when it was something that was simply given to her instead of 'she earned that, it's hers'. they will still fight over toys at times, but now it can be easily reasoned out. We were forcing the kids to share toys amongst themselves, but then going to friends house and trying to explain that it is not right to expect them to share, just confusing them. With proper ideas of what ownership is, things get easier and entitlement goes away.

Also, I know this is touchy and I have no idea how I would communicate this to my own kid, but don't you actually "own" your kids, at least until a certain age? When I was a kid, I didn't think exactly like that, but I was well aware that my parents had the final say because they were the bosses over everything. (This worked well until adolescence).

The ownership of your children is a fun one. They know, at least the older ones appear to, that we house and feed and care for them because we want to, not because we have to or because we own them. As long as they live with us, they must abide by our rules, they must get an education, etc. as their end of the bargain for what we provide them. A parent shouldn't be a boss over everything, they should be a boss over those things for which they earn and provide. This is why we are letting the kids earn money to buy things for themselves and we can not take away even as punishment.

Anyways, this is all a work in progress, we got the idea for it from a friend of ours and pretty much smacked ourselves in the head that we didn't think of it first. We'll keep tweaking things as issues come up. As long as my kids begin to think for themselves, reason things out, and question instead of blindly accepting then we'll have done our job as parents correctly.

Edited by Lathanar
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I haven't given parenting a lot of thought, but with a goal like that and with what you said, it sounds like you're doing good things with your kids. (Not to mention that you like having kids, which I think is absolutely essential. To me it seems as if most people would rather not have their children). I even remember specifically being pissed off like in your example about being required to share with siblings and guests but not getting the same treatment at relatives' and friends' houses. I agree with you that it is more important to teach kids about ownership than about giving gifts.

I would also be interested to know how you deal with your oldest son, at that miserable age of 15. I am the oldest of four boys, and 15-16 (14-17 for me) were what you could call Asshole Years for all of us. Me being the first, my parents had no idea how to deal, and they basically spent two years flipping out. They were more subdued with each subsequent boy, but I think they just ignored the behavior.

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I haven't given parenting a lot of thought, but with a goal like that and with what you said, it sounds like you're doing good things with your kids. (Not to mention that you like having kids, which I think is absolutely essential. To me it seems as if most people would rather not have their children).

The decision to have kids I think is one of the most important choices a person can make in their life and the birth of that first child one of the most life changing events. The fact that these little people depend on you so much, look to you for everything, it can open the door to emotionalism and irrationality. The children are the heartstrings the altruist pull. Feed the starving children, educate the children, children are dying, protect our children, make the world a better place for our children. It's a powerful influence. Rand was rather sparse with her writings on children and at the surface she seemed very anti-family when I started reading her essays. It took me a little to realize she didn't write about children much because she couldn't. Without any herself, I don't think she had much to go on. In particular was the playboy interview where she says that it is immoral to place family ahead of work and achievment and that a woman who chooses to be a house wife is impractical. It took me a while to figure out what she was saying, it seemed to go against everything I had been taught.

I would also be interested to know how you deal with your oldest son, at that miserable age of 15. I am the oldest of four boys, and 15-16 (14-17 for me) were what you could call Asshole Years for all of us. Me being the first, my parents had no idea how to deal, and they basically spent two years flipping out. They were more subdued with each subsequent boy, but I think they just ignored the behavior.

Hahaha, well, I'll let you know how he turns out in a few years. He's moody, somewhat anti-social at times, doesn't always listen, and is basically your typical 15 year old boy. I haven't forgotten the arguments that I got into with my parents at that age, so I just try to give him his space he wants right now. I'll let Sherry post her own take on him.

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This seems like a good strategy for the younger ones, but it may prove to be a problem once they reach their teenage years. As they grow older, they'll make more money, and thus buy more of what they want. If you set an standard of not taking away "toys" that they bought for themselves, it will be very hard indeed to punish them once they are teenagers. Sure, you can ground them or something, but this doesn't work if they can sit in their room and listen to the iPod they just bought themselves, or chat online with their friends on the computer they bought with money from their summer job.

I'm not saying it's a bad strategy, I'm just saying you should watch out for how much freedom it allows them to have. You don't want them to think that they don't need you as a parent. My brother, for instance, doesn't realize how much my mom provides for him, so he doesn't really understand how much he needs to respect her or why he needs to listen to her. As long as your kids understand why you as parents are important, everything else should be okay.

Another thought that occurred to me is this strategy may breed a little hedonism. It depends on how far you take it. I do think that sharing is an important lesson for a child to learn, not for others' sake or to teach him how to get along with society, but because it helps teach him how much fun it can be to share something. Some things are better when only you know them, but it is really nice to be able to share things. It definitely increases the fun factor.

One more thing, not targeted at anybody in particular. I think one of the problems with society today is the lack of adventure instilled in kids. I partially think this has to do with a decline in outdoor activity, such as hiking and camping, but it definitely applies to every area in live. An adventurous person takes risks and tries new things. Ultimately, somebody who is adventurous wants to move, he has to be doing something. He wants to take apart the old radio; he wants to go fishing, hiking, camping- especially if it's in the middle of nowhere. When he does something, he picks the hardest challenge and works for it. You know that great, driving energy that Rand is always talking about in her novels; that passion, and purpose, and sense of urgency her characters' feel for their work- that is the most fun type of adventure. The cool thing is being adventurous doesn't mean that one has to be a genius or that one has to be an Olympic potential. All it means is getting out there and trying something. Who wants to consistently (insert activity: ski, hike, walk, drive, etc) the longest? Who finds fun in taking the difficult way? Who wants to enter the hardest competition? These are the kinds of things that adventurous people do. As easy as it may seem, it's hard to find this kind of people.

Anyway, just the two cents of a seventeen year old who happens to love his parents very much.

Zak

PS: As always, there was no intent to demean anyone. These are just my thoughts and observations, nothing more. I'm not a parent and won't be for quite some time. :thumbsup:

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If you set an standard of not taking away "toys" that they bought for themselves, it will be very hard indeed to punish them once they are teenagers. Sure, you can ground them or something, but this doesn't work if they can sit in their room and listen to the iPod they just bought themselves, or chat online with their friends on the computer they bought with money from their summer job.

Only if they have their own internet service, only if they have their own phone line or cell phone. Where is the justice in taking away what they've earned, the rational thinking behind it. If we were going to do that to them, we might as well not let them earn anything because personal property loses it's meaning.

I'm not saying it's a bad strategy, I'm just saying you should watch out for how much freedom it allows them to have. You don't want them to think that they don't need you as a parent. My brother, for instance, doesn't realize how much my mom provides for him, so he doesn't really understand how much he needs to respect her or why he needs to listen to her. As long as your kids understand why you as parents are important, everything else should be okay.

If my kids get to the point when they are 15/16 and they realize they are their own person and don't need us, I will take it as a blessing. If they have learned that they can earn for themselves to get what they need I'll have achieved what I wanted. When my kids reach adulthood I want them to respect me for who I am and the values I hold, not simply because I'm Dad. But that's just me, doesn't work for everyone.

Another thought that occurred to me is this strategy may breed a little hedonism. It depends on how far you take it. I do think that sharing is an important lesson for a child to learn, not for others' sake or to teach him how to get along with society, but because it helps teach him how much fun it can be to share something. Some things are better when only you know them, but it is really nice to be able to share things. It definitely increases the fun factor.

They should share because they value the friendship with the other person and the other person would appreciate it, not because of any value gained out of simply sharing. It's the same as charity. To hell with society.

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Zak,

Thanks for posting... you make some excellent points! I especially appreciate them, since you are so close to my son's age.

As they grow older, they'll make more money, and thus buy more of what they want. If you set an standard of not taking away "toys" that they bought for themselves, it will be very hard indeed to punish them once they are teenagers. Sure, you can ground them or something, but this doesn't work if they can sit in their room and listen to the iPod they just bought themselves, or chat online with their friends on the computer they bought with money from their summer job.
Regarding the computer: He may pay for the computer, but I pay for the internet, and can take that away. The electricity too. (I cannot imagine any of them do anything that would require me taking that away though, hahah...very extreme thought that.) Also, if they are under 18, they need parental permission to have a job outside the house.

Depending on the punishment, they won't be in their room anyway, but probably be told to help me with extra chores or something. It all would depend on the situation. This being grounding but chatting online complaining to your friends about thing drives me insane...I find it funny parents allow it.

Another thought that occurred to me is this strategy may breed a little hedonism. It depends on how far you take it. I do think that sharing is an important lesson for a child to learn, not for others' sake or to teach him how to get along with society, but because it helps teach him how much fun it can be to share something. Some things are better when only you know them, but it is really nice to be able to share things. It definitely increases the fun factor.

I was worried about the same thing, actually, when we started all this. So far so good. They still fight sometimes, but they do share freely most of the time, and it seems to be easier to settle disagreements.

One more thing, not targeted at anybody in particular. I think one of the problems with society today is the lack of adventure instilled in kids. I partially think this has to do with a decline in outdoor activity, such as hiking and camping, but it definitely applies to every area in live.
ABSOLUTELY!!!!!!

That is something we are working towards, get outdoor more often to do stuff together.

Anyway, just the two cents of a seventeen year old who happens to love his parents very much.

Zak

PS: As always, there was no intent to demean anyone. These are just my thoughts and observations, nothing more. I'm not a parent and won't be for quite some time. :thumbsup:

Zak, ahhh well tell your mom and dad you have done them proud.

=)

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If we were going to do that to them, we might as well not let them earn anything because personal property loses it's meaning.

Not necessarily. What can be learned is that even things you earn can be lost as a consequence of bad behavior or bad decision-making. This is entirely consistent with events that can happen in adult life.

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