Taking Children Seriously is a new VIEW of children—a non-paternalistic view: children do not actually need to be controlled for their own good. An Oxford Karl Popper Society talk.
Pretending that the road to improvement lies in receiving punishment, or in exposing one’s life to public scrutiny so that one won’t dare do the wrong thing is just horrible. A grave mistake. It really can’t help, and for the same reason doing that to children can’t help, only hinders their improvement.
Overt coercion is less likely to corrupt children’s interpretation of what is happening to them. But given that part of our self respect as parents taking our children seriously comes from being non-coercive, it might well be that the coercion we inadvertently engage in is interpretation-corrupting double binds. So we need to be particularly aware of the subtle mind-messing forms of coercion.
The survey showed that favouring coercion over any one issue is not a good predictor of favouring coercion over any other issue, even an issue that the majority considers more important. The fact that so many parents believe that so many others have got their priorities the wrong way round is very hard to explain in the conventional terms of ‘strict’ vs. ‘lenient’ enforcement of a larger or smaller core of objectively important things. Most of us can see quite easily the irrationality of many other people’s justifications for coercing children. But it is in the nature of irrationality that we cannot see our own.
A blindspot is a blocked area of thinking that one is unaware is blocked. Unless one identifies a blind spot, it is likely to remain blocked, preventing problems being solved in that area.
When a child wants us to buy something we find morally objectionable, we have to remember that it is our child buying it, not us. You have no jurisdiction over your children. What they do can’t be morally wrong for you.
If a person thinks they have no blind spots, then they have at least one.
When you find yourself feeling bad for no apparent reason, or even seemingly for a reason, there may be a blind spot.
When one is the victim of a great injustice, there is a tremendous temptation to define oneself, and one’s life, at least partly in terms of this injustice. The victim mentality is a terrible mistake because it sabotages the vital process of learning how to have a happy life, solving problems as you go along.
Blindspots are challenging to identify, by their very nature. You don’t see what you don’t see. But asking friends to help you identify them can be very liberating, because their effects are wide.
We all have blind spots. We all delude ourselves. This is especially common when it comes to parenting, because of all the antirational memes operating in this sphere.
If you reframe the child not wanting to do what you want them to do, by imagining how you would react if the child were unwell, that can help us identify coercion.
When, despite having had the benefit of our best arguments, our children don’t agree, that is when we should start questioning our own arguments, not just assuming it is the child’s that is wrong.
People’s notion that young children are irrational or that teenagers are obnoxious colours their view of what is happening in reality. They see irrationality/awfulness where none exists.