Tag Archive | children

Helicopter parenting, abortion, and childlessness: an ounce of prevention too often absent in America.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,”  is one of those tried and true axioms that underscore common sense.  It costs less money to build a sturdy house than it does to rescue a family trapped in a poorly built one that collapses during a storm (see data on this in American Poverty:  Why America’s Treatment of the Poor Undermines Its Authority as a World Power). It costs less to vaccinate your children than it does to treat a life-threatening and highly preventable disease like polio or measles.  It costs less to abstain from smoking than it does to treat smoking-related diseases.

We all know this axiom.  Yet sadly in the United States, common sense is lacking on some of the most important decisions of our lives.  Let’s start with the Pope Francis’ recent comments regarding couples who consciously decide not to have children.  On the 11th February 2015 UK’s The Guardian reported Pope Francis’ remarks, “A society with a greedy generation, that doesn’t want to surround itself with children, that considers them above all worrisome, a weight, a risk, is a depressed society…. The choice to not have children is selfish. Life rejuvenates and acquires energy when it multiplies: It is enriched, not impoverished.”

So deciding not to have children is selfish according to the pope.  But is it really?  In making his universal claim that deciding not to have children is selfish, the pope ignores that there are many very solid reasons for delaying or foregoing childbearing.  Economics is a key consideration.  Children cost money to raise.  This should be obvious and common sense.  Bringing a child into the world is not free — not before birth, not during birth, and not after birth. The physical needs of children must be attended to and provided for by their parents on a daily basis along with their educational, intellectual, and social needs.  Most if not all of this costs money and resources which are not easy to provide even under the best of circumstances.  Calling someone selfish and belittling someone for recognizing this is not only uncalled for, but it punishes those who are most responsible.

I am one of them.  At the time of writing this blog post, I do not have the material resources to properly provide for a child.  Though I think I have the potential to become a good parent someday, I recognize that right now I am not able to properly provide for a child.

To me this is being responsible.  This is me caring about quality of life over the quantity of life.  The pope should not be calling those of us who make the responsible choice selfish; he should be praising us for caring about the quality of life for every child that comes into this world.

Contraception and abortion also feed into this.  The child that is not born is the one that does not need to be provided for.  While in general I do not like abortion, I know that it is not for me to decide for anyone else how that person should live nor do I want anyone else deciding for me what I can or should do.  These are personal choices that touch upon the most intimate part of our lives; in a free society no one intrudes into our private lives unless we are somehow jeopardizing the lives of another (hence I do believe in mandatory vaccination for diseases like polio and measles).  Whether I take a pill or a fellow I am intimate with uses a condom or not is for him and I, not the state, not my neighbours, not some religious group or business to decide.

It is common sense that all pregnancies should be planned for, that all children born should be born with a reasonable expectation of living in a loving family where every need is met and where the child can grow up in safety.  And if this is not possible for an individual or couple at any given time, it is common sense for them to take precautions to prevent the pregnancy without interference or pressure from anyone else.

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One final area of common sense and parenting I see sorely lacking:  “free range” parenting.  Free range parenting is what our hyper-protective society now calls common sense parenting.  For some very bizarre reason we now consider helicopter parenting normal in the United States, that tendency to perpetually treat anyone under the age of 18 as a helpless infant who needs to be wrapped in bubble wrap and never exposed to anything that could potentially cause injury, disease, or danger of any sort.

There are two major problems with helicopter parenting.  Firstly, it creates dependency.  Children never learn to do for themselves because they are never expected to do anything for themselves.  The purpose of childhood is to learn the skills needed to survive as adults from a position of reasonable safety.  A human child is not born running nor does a baby bird come out of the egg flying.  For every living being there is a process of learning.  You learn by doing.  Helicopter parenting destroys this process; children never get to do anything because there is a risk something bad might happen.  Therefore children never learn to do anything.

Story Which brings us to point two:  helicopter parenting destroys competence. If you never experience the discomfort of trial and error, never experience failure or stress, you never learn anything and never learn how to do anything.  The child who is never expected to set the table or clean her room or cook for the family never learns how to do these things for herself at the time when it is easiest to teach these life skills.  When she turns eighteen (legal adulthood in the United States) she enters university and her own home having absolutely no idea how to do the most mundane tasks like cooking, cleaning, washing clothing, and managing her time effectively.  She does not know how to study.  She does not know how to fulfill the obligations of the work place.  She does not know how to be self responsible.

She fails.  Only since she is a legal adult, there is no help for her.  Society says “too bad; here are the consequences for your failure.”    Often she knows of only one solution:  move back in with mom and dad where she expects to receive everything she received when she was younger.

She never learns how to survive on her own.

Rather than punishing people for responsible choices, we need to praise them.  We need to praise the couple working two jobs who knows that they cannot provide properly for a child and chooses to not have children.  We need to facilitate use of contraception and respect those who choose to end existing pregnancies for making what is usually a very hard decision.  And we especially need to encourage “free range” parenting, the parenting style that facilitates competence in children by expecting them to do for themselves and giving them the space to learn from experience.

I want to make it clear that there is a line between negligence and free range parenting.  Negligence is not caring.  It is ignoring the child when s/he asks for help or brings a problem to the parent’s attention.  It is making excuses for ignoring the child’s request for help.   Free range parenting is caring so much about the child that the parent lets the child practice independence and develop competence.  Not one expert in anything started out that way.  To me a good parent allows her or his child to work through the learning process.  Experience is the best teacher of all.  Instead of hovering, we need to keep a safe but proper distance that shows we love our children and we care without smothering, without creating dependency.  Good parents let their children do for themselves.  Good parents trust their children and gradually let go as the child matures.  Teach your children properly and there is no reason to hover.

This is what I call common sense.  This is the ounce of prevention that is worth a pound of cure.

Reblog: Should Authors Stop Their Characters At First Base?

Today’s reblog is a post by J. Boyce Gleason entitled “Should Authors Stop Their Characters at First Base.”

 

Here is Mr. Gleason’s post in full.  What do you think?  Let’s talk about sex in books!

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Why Not “Fade to Black?”

Authors make lots of choices. How much of the plot do we reveal? How soon do we reveal it? Should we follow one narrative point of view or many?

And then there is sex. How far do we let the characters go? Do we stop them at first base and fade to black? Second? Third? Is it necessary for the reader to watch them go all the way? How much detail is too much detail?

The choice I made was to be “all in.”

One of the reasons we read fiction is that it gives us the unique opportunity to delve inside a character’s persona. We see their thoughts and emotions. We know what drives them to make the choices they make. Like Toto in the Wizard of Oz, fiction allows us to pull aside the curtain to see what levers are being manipulated.

Sex (or the abstinence of sex) is an integral part of who we are. It shapes our personalities, our choices, our self-esteem. We may choose to keep the details private, but it shapes us nonetheless. Why should literature be any different?

The trick is to make sure you are writing it for the right purpose.

“If you are writing to titillate the reader – or yourself – you are writing for the wrong reason,” author Barbara Dimmick (In the Presence of Horses, Heart-Side Up) warns. “There are no generic sex scenes. Sex is so intimate that it changes with each partner. Couples create their own language for sex; they have their own signals for intimacy, their own rituals for foreplay. To be credible, a sex scene must reflect that level intimacy. It should give your readers insights into your characters, not into you.”

My first novel, Anvil of God, is a sweeping tale that chronicles the struggles that the family of Charles the Hammer (Charlemagne’s grandfather) face in the wake of his death. Based on a true story, it is a whirlwind of love, honor, sacrifice, and betrayal. It offers readers far more than a sex. But the sex scenes in it, hit that high standard. They present a unique window into each character’s identity. For Trudi, sex is an act of independence; for Carloman it is a counterpoint to the rigidity of his religious beliefs, for Pippin an expression of joy and respite from the violence of his life. The scenes advance the story in a way no other scene could.

About the Author:
J. Boyce Gleason With an AB in history from Dartmouth College, J. Boyce Gleason brings a strong understanding of what events shaped history. He says he writes historical-fiction to discover why. Gleason lives in Virginia with his wife Mary Margaret. They have three sons.

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Do you agree with Mr. Gleason?  Post your remarks below!

Repost: Punishing kids for lying doesn’t work, study suggests

Reposted from World Science:

If you want your child to be truth­ful, it’s best not to threat­en pun­ish­ment if she or he lies, a study sug­gests: child­ren are more likely to tell the truth ei­ther to please an adult or be­cause they be­lieve it’s the right thing to do.

That’s what psy­chol­o­gists found through an ex­pe­ri­ment in­volv­ing 372 chil­dren be­tween the ages of 4 and 8.

“If chil­dren fear po­ten­tial neg­a­tive out­comes for dis­clos­ing in­forma­t­ion, they may be more re­luc­tant to dis­close,” the re­search­ers, led by Vic­to­ria Tal­war of McGill Uni­vers­ity in Can­a­da, wrote in a pa­per for the Feb. 2015 is­sue of the Jour­nal of Ex­pe­ri­men­tal Child Psy­chol­o­gy.

The re­search­ers left each child alone in a room for a min­ute with a toy be­hind them on a ta­ble, hav­ing told the child not to peek dur­ing their ab­sence. Ex­pe­ri­menters told some of the chil­dren they would “be in trou­ble” if they lied about that, while for oth­er young­sters the ex­pe­ri­menters men­tioned only pos­i­tive rea­sons for tell­ing the truth.

A hid­den vi­deo cam­era filmed what went on while the child was alone. Up­on re­turn­ing, the ex­pe­ri­menter would ask: “When I was gone, did you turn around and peak at the toy?”

About two-thirds of the chil­dren peeked, though for eve­ry one month in­crease in age, chil­dren be­came slightly less likely to peek, the study found. More­o­ver, about two-thirds of the peek­ers lied about hav­ing looked, and month-by-month as chil­dren aged, they both be­come more likely to tell lies and more ad­ept at main­tain­ing their lies.

The re­search­ers al­so found that the threat of be­ing “in trou­ble” alone led to more than twice the rate of ly­ing as the ap­peals to con­science or good feel­ings alone. Com­bina­t­ions of both types of in­duce­ments led to in-be­tween re­sults.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tors al­so ex­pected and found, they said, that while young­er chil­dren were more fo­cused on tell­ing the truth to please the adults, old­er chil­dren had bet­ter in­ter­nal­ized stan­dards of be­hav­ior that made them tell the truth be­cause it was the right thing to do.

“The bot­tom line is that pun­ish­ment does not pro­mote truth-tell­ing,” said Tal­war. “In fact, the threat of pun­ish­ment can have the re­verse ef­fect by re­duc­ing the like­li­hood that chil­dren will tell the truth when encoura­ged to do so.”