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Post 140

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - 7:59amSanction this postReply
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I  was just wondering if Deanna hails from somewhere, like in Europe, for instance, where that particular character is known as something else. What she described sounded like Thomas the Tank here in the U.S.
I get it.

Montessori is always worth reading.




Post 141

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - 8:04amSanction this postReply
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Our posts are passing in the ether Michael.

Since children have no autonomy in their early years, to choose what they will receive,  youngsters are the innocent victims or victors, of whatever comes their way.

Adults make all the decisions.   Adults decide what a child will or won't receive; physically, emotionally, intellectually.

Do you get the gravity of that statement?

Why do you want to spend time trying to prioritize a pipsqueak like Mickey Mouse on a list of all the things in the world from which to choose?

I apply the advice from that famous quote I keep hearing from Objectivists,  "I  don't think of him!"   (except under certain contexts)

Sharon



Post 142

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - 8:16amSanction this postReply
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Ted,

You really must get a copy of Susan Coyne's Book,  Kingfisher Days.  You can start creating a fantasy for your nephew, now. 

If Ayn Rand had had such an uncle.  sigh

Sharon



Post 143

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - 8:37amSanction this postReply
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Deanna,

I hope I wasn't too brutal yesterday.

I meant to mention that your son's play with his toy lizard is imaginary not fantasy.  The toy is a replica of reality.  This is almost exactly what Montessori would provide, one male and the other female, however.

Now if you were to take a serving tray outdoors and find things in the garden for the  lizard; that would be a big step toward  your son learning about animal habitat. Picture books from the library about lizards from around the world would fascinate him as well.

Playing hide and seek games with the lizards would be fun too.

Learning how to use soap and a scrubbing brush to clean the lizard, would provide much focus and pleasure for your little guy.

You are lucky Deanna.  You haven't had enough time to make all those regretful errors most of  the rest of us made, before we got our premises straighter.

Sharon



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Post 144

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - 9:54amSanction this postReply
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This is really a fascinating back-and-forth between Sharon and Michael. Excellent posts, both of you.

Sharon,
I have read many of your other posts in other threads and I must say I absolutely admire, and share, your obviously unbridled passion for raising wonderful, Objectivist children. No job, for me, will ever be as important (I have a fantastic teenage son, Jake; he recently joined this site on his own, as a member.) 

However, I must agree with MSK's argument...allowing your child access to common culture doesn't have to be harmful. I would add that it can actually provide for endless learning opportunities (in the Objectivist sense) for the child; at least, this was my experience. What better way to point out how ridiculous most of it is, than to allow your child to witness it, and then discuss it with him at length?

When my son was young, we would watch TV together, and if an idea was presented (say, in a sitcom) that I had a problem with as an Objectivist, I would make a point to ask him, "What do you think about what (random character) said/did?" And he would answer, and I would continue on, helping him to reach an opinion or idea of his own that was well-informed, and rational, because l would (gently) present the Objectivist side to counter the (usually) the collectivist, altruistic, religious, etc. idea of a "hero" that was featured in the story. The idea of allowing my son to only absorb what garbage there is floating around (passing for "ideas") without giving him the full context was unacceptable; but so was censoring what he saw, because I feared it would "influence" him...if I did my job as a parent correctly, then I would have taught him how to reason, how to think about what he is witnessing. (I had no desire to "keep" anything from him, or "protect" him from it...I let him see it, and then I teach him how to judge it for himself.) 

When he was very young, he believed in Santa Claus, sort of. He was aware of the myth, and knew what other little kids believed in, but I never "built up" the fantasy for him...so he wasn't exactly traumatized to discover it was all bull. In fact, I once took him, at around the age of 7, to a my company's Christmas party for employees' kids, and Santa was there, line of waiting kids and all. When he got to sit on Santa's lap, he only told him one toy he wanted for Christmas. (Every other child had a list of 20 things, at least.) "Santa" was shocked: "That's all you want, young man?"  Jake said, "Yeah."  
I remember being so proud that my son had such simple desires, that he wasn't some greedy little monster who wanted everything in the toy store. Now, in retrospect, I think it is probably a more realistic assumption that he figured that guy wasn't really some magical man who could give him everything he wanted, so why bother listing it all? (He wasn't exactly peeing his pants over seeing "Santa"... he didn't mind or anything...but he just didn't have that squirmy excitement over seeing the supernatural Father Christmas. (This was the last time I ever took him to see Santa anywhere; he never asked again.)

As I said before, I've never been one to "build up" fantastic ideas to my son, even the ones in common culture; I feel that when parents do that, they are relying on this sort of thing to help raise, or even control their kids ("Be good, or Santa will bring you a lump of coal at Christmas" is as bad as "Remember...Jesus can SEE everything you do!" in my opinion), and I find that tactic, in terms of parenting, lazy at best, immoral at worst. So I would never actively try to fool my kid, but I wouldn't keep the ideas from him, either. I suppose I just always felt I'd have enough rational ideas to put into his head to keep him sane, and that would allow him to "have fun" with the gobbledy-gook, if he felt like it. The ability to think rationally and objectively is like armor for your child's mind; with it he can afford to indulge in silly stuff, and it can't possibly damage or traumatize him.  (To explain further, see Ethan Dawe's post #29;  he sounds like my son as an adult.) He doesn't have to be shielded from popular culture---the really stupid things, he will avoid on his own, without you needling him, because his tastes and opinions are shaped by rational thought (For example, Jake is well aware of Britney Spears (and everyone like her); he just finds her completely boring and unimpressive.)   :-) 

Erica

Edit note:     I wrote this post before reading what Sharon had to say regarding the minds of VERY young children, who are not in a position to possibly distinguish fantasy from reality. As I said above, I find that purposefully instilling bullcrap in your child's mind when they are very little is a bad idea, and usually represents laziness or immorality on the part of the parent. The reality, and the teaching of how to learn and understand what is real HAS to come first; fantasy is okay after the child has been, for lack of a better term, armored.   :-)   

MSK:

I think I see valid points of view from both you and Sharon...are you two really as far apart on this issue as it appears?  (On that note, are you and Ed and the Rev that far apart, either?) It seems that the problem concerns rational parents versus irrational parents; I know for a fact that Ed Thompson's main issue is that his parents were irrational; they not only taught him irrational ideas at a young age---they believed in them themselves. Ridiculous ideas were presented to little Ed as no different from fact. To steal Sharon's phrase, he was the "innocent victim" of his parents' irrationality (whereas my son, Jake, is a "victor", thanks to my more rational approach to parenting.) This helps explain Ed's passionate views on this issue. (I do not know Rev's story. He will have to explain, if he wishes to.) And even Ed agrees with me that, if given the proper tools for understanding reality FIRST, fantasy is not necessarily a bad thing.  So you tell me...is there actually common ground here that we are all just missing by inches?



(Edited by Erica Schulz on 9/12, 10:13am)

(Edited by Erica Schulz on 9/12, 11:29am)




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Post 145

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - 10:30amSanction this postReply
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However, I must agree with MSK's argument...allowing your child access to common culture doesn't have to be harmful. I would add that it can actually provide for endless learning opportunities (in the Objectivist sense) for the child; at least, this was my experience. What better way to point out how ridiculous most of it is, than to allow your child to witness it, and then discuss it with him at length?
It isn't harmful. And attempts to "shield" them from it may make them want it more.
if I did my job as a parent correctly, then I would have taught him how to reason, how to think about what he is witnessing. (I had no desire to "keep" anything from him, or "protect" him from it...I let him see it, and then I teach him how to judge it for himself.)
This is so sensible. It's unfortunate that such an attitude is a minority.
I remember being so proud that my son had such simple desires, that he wasn't some greedy little monster who wanted everything in the toy store.
Naturally I wonder if the Santa Claus is what promotes the crass materialism in this culture. I do think this myth is destructive. It also repulsed when I was a devout Catholic. That is also why I will still only sing real Christmas songs at Christmastime.

Have you watched Miracle on 34th Street with him?
As I said before, I've never been one to "build up" fantastic ideas to my son, even the ones in common culture; I feel that when parents do that, they are relying on this sort of thing to help raise, or even control their kids ("Be good, or Santa will bring you a lump of coal at Christmas" is as bad as "Remember...Jesus can SEE everything you do!" in my opinion), and I find that tactic, in terms of parenting, lazy at best, immoral at worst.
It is also tremendously disrespectful and harms your credibility. If you want your kids to respect you, you have to respect them.

What happens if you find reading Playboy?
I suppose I just always felt I'd have enough rational ideas to put into his head to keep him sane
Sometimes it happens in spite of the parents. My brother and his wife have never had a lick of sense, but my nephew has managed to turn out pretty well. He's 19 now and must have picked up all the good influences from everyone else.

He did get his mother's crass materialism. The most unfathomable thing about him is that he has still never learned to drive.

Interestingly enough, now that he's in college and only 60 miles away, he hardly wants to see them. He did summer school. My dad says that he gets sick every time he visits them.
For example, Jake is well aware of Britney Spears (and everyone like her); he just finds her completely boring and unimpressive.
This is called good taste. I would kick Britney out of my bed faster than I would kick out Paris Hilton, Chrisleeze Aguilera, Lindsay Lohan, or Ashley or Jessica Simpson. However, for Hilary Duff, Rihanna, Natasha Bedingfield, Stacy Ferguson, and Joss Stone, the door is wide open.

(Edited by Chris Baker on 9/13, 6:33am)




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Post 146

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - 10:44amSanction this postReply
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Sharon,
I didn't consider you to be brutal at all.  You are obviously a dedicated teacher and feel passionately about children.  Believe it or not, I have tried to get my son into a Montessori daycare since I was 6 months pregnant with him.  Unfortunately where I live there is only ONE available, and unfortunate more still is the fact that hurricane Katrina set all of us on end and daycare in general is extremely limited even a year later, and now that I live in a totally different area, that one loan daycare is too far out of the way to make it truly available to him.

My becoming a parent is what lead me to Objectivism in the first place, and I'm becoming more and more disappointed daily that Rand did not address parenting and children, in general, in more depth.  I was not aware that Montessori had any relation to Objectivism until you brought it up here.  I just always thought it was an excellent pre-school education curriculm.

I don't consider myself brave, but thank you for saying so.  I grew up with "good enough parents" and want to do a bit more for my own son.  I hope that Rand would consider that the ethical thing to do.  (He was totally unexpected, not supposed to have ever existed according to the medical experts, so he's my little miracle.  And yes, I mean that in the nicest - ie most rational way.  hahaha)

Everyone, I am enjoying this entire discussion very much and learning a great deal from all the different points of view. 

(Edited by Ms. Deanna Delancey on 9/12, 11:31am)




Post 147

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - 10:45amSanction this postReply
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Erica,
They did seem to feel that strongly about it, actually.  Am I confused?

You're thinking of the right Thomas, btw.  I hail from the deep South in the good ol' USA, though.  The very useful engine part comes from one of the books that we have, I think.  My son has so many books that it's hard to keep up.  Anyway, one of the common themes in the Thomas stories is that every engine must be productive and apply his greatest ability, often having to be creative to solve everyday problems.  I don't know if it's what the author had in mind, but that appeals to me in the same way that Objectivism does, for obvious reasons. 

(Edited by Ms. Deanna Delancey on 9/12, 11:26am)




Post 148

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - 10:56amSanction this postReply
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Chris,
My son and I use Thomas (and his friends and their tracks) to build a little city that revolves around a railroad.  We make up stories and just play toddler kind of games with our little city and trains.  The character was originally created by an English minister in the 1940s.  The books that my son has are the typical picture books with simple sentences and rhymes that you would expect of books created for toddlers.  We don't watch Thomas on television, simply because my son has very little interest in television.  If it ain't Sesame Street, he ain't interested.




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Post 149

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - 11:08amSanction this postReply
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Sharon,

Our posts pass sometimes because my posts must go through a moderator first and the timing depends on him/her.

On an intellectual basis, they sure are passing in one respect. When I read the following phrase, it gave me a very strong negative reaction:
Raising children is like creating Objectivists.
How on earth do you create an Objectivist? This is the controlling mentality that I am extremely wary of. Haven't you ever read the phrase that man is a being of self-made soul? How does one "create" a self-made soul by molding it from the outside? I have no problem with inducing, offering, explaining and even punishing at times.

I am against mind control. Strongly against it. Even of the very young.

You stated about young infants:
Adults make all the decisions.
They certainly do not. A very young child is engaged in developing an enormous amount of initial skills and is extremely limited in what he can do, but as his volitional faculty develops, he is the one who uses it, not the adult. That means he decides, not the adult.

I agree that the adult controls what is offered and so forth. But an infant also has certain innate affects (see here). These are automatic at first and become more complex, then become emotions, as the child develops and the volitional faculty grows. (I was made aware of this by Steven Shmurak, who bases his conclusions on the work of Silvan Tomkins.)

The point is that children choose Mickey Mouse from all else that is available to their awareness because they like him. There are reasons they like him and these reasons should not be dismissed. They respond to the affects in cartoon characters and this is a value in itself.

When you restrain a child, you are supposed to restrain him because he could be hurt by dangerous things. As his volitional faculty grows and he starts going to school, restraints like obeying times, doing homework, etc., are established because other people are involved and coordinating opportunities is just as much a reality as anything else is.

I am strongly against restraining a child in order to "mold" him. A parent is a parent, not God.

The more I think about it, I am more and more convinced that mind control of infants is not really about the infant, but all about the controller instead.

For the life of me, I cannot find evil or danger in Mickey Mouse. So my question still stands. Why can't there be both? Is there any concrete evidence - any at all - that proves that exposure to Mickey Mouse while young causes cognitive impairment?

Michael




Post 150

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - 12:39pmSanction this postReply
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I think a certain amount of force is justified in child rearing. If my kid decides he wants to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel, I am going to use violence to stop him.

I don't have kids, by the way.




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Post 151

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - 12:46pmSanction this postReply
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First off,

Chris,

Hi. Thanks for your comments. Okay, to answer a couple of things:

You said:     It is also tremendously disrespectful and harms your credibility. If you want your kids to respect you, you have to respect them.  (Sorry, I haven't figured out yet how to make other people's quotes appear in those cool gray boxes in my post.)  :-(

I say:     You GOT it!  I have believed this for a long time...but many other parents never will. (They adhere to the "Honor thy Mother and Father" thing from the Bible, I think.)  You should earn your kid's respect...that doesn't mean spoiling them, or even making them the absolute center of your life, or letting them control you...it means that you should strive to be someone they would want to respect, by living in a way that commands respect. Real respect, not fear. My son loves me, and he still, at 14, asks me about things...how many other teen sons want anything to do with their mom, or would ask her to discuss things with them? His attitude is not a happy accident; like Sharon pointed out, people must be deliberate in what they do when raising kids. I have certainly tried to be. 

And as far as reading Playboy...why the hell would I care? I want him to be a normal, healthy young man, with no issues or hangups...and normal, healthy young men enjoy looking at naked pictures of women (or men, depending on their preference.) I don't believe sex is dirty; why would I want to impose that kind of sentiment on my son? There is MUCH more I could say on this...but I think I will reserve it for the Parenting Forum. (This thread's gettin' hijacked!) Suffice it to say that I don't believe in giving the "Talk" when your kid is 12 or 13...the "Talk" dialogue begins around age 4 or 5, when they first ask, "Where do babies come from?" and you just build on it through the years as they mature enough to understand more. (And you always tell them THE TRUTH...none of that stork business!) : -)

Also, (speaking of happy accidents) you mentioned that sometimes kids turn out okay in spite of their parents...this is so true.
I am living proof, Ed Thompson is living proof, but it is a tough road. Let's just say that my son is getting the childhood Ed and I never got. 

Deanna,

No...you are not confused. The benefit of knowing (at least Ed) personally, is that I can talk to him anytime, and I questioned his stance...when I explained where I'm coming from, as I said in my post #144 (I edited it twice to add info, but I think I did it after you posted, so you didn't see it) Ed explained that his parents weren't rational, and they confused him as a small child with irrational beliefs that they presented as fact, and he felt damaged by their actions. He feels as though years of his life were wasted believing irrational fears, and he's a little angry about that. He is also not wrong to feel that way. Believe me, I can relate. The emotion of his posts reflect that, understandably. But, as I also added in #144, he agrees with my stance (and Sharon's) that fantasy is ok, if the parent teaches the child reality first. That balance has to be there. As I stated, your child can "afford" to indulge in the joy of fantasy, if you make sure he understands reality, too, and you point out the difference to him.
Thanks for the Thomas the Tank clarification...I was starting to think you were across the pond from us Yanks! :-) (by the way, my son had all the Thomas train track sets and train cars, too...they're a hoot!)

MSK:
 
I edited my post #144 to ask you a question, but you probably didn't see it yet. What do you think? (Dying to hear your answer.) Thanks.

Erica




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Post 152

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - 2:06pmSanction this postReply
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MSK said:    How on earth do you create an Objectivist? This is the controlling mentality that I am extremely wary of. Haven't you ever read the phrase that man is a being of self-made soul? How does one "create" a self-made soul by molding it from the outside? I have no problem with inducing, offering, explaining and even punishing at times.

I am against mind control. Strongly against it. Even of the very young.

 

Michael, you are right about this. 
I would love nothing better in the world than for my son to officially declare himself Objectivist one day, but even I know I can't MAKE him into one...all I can do is raise him with Objectivist principles (not forced on him---a huge part of my parenting strategy involves letting him make up his own mind.)  Objectivism just doesn't work otherwise.
Of course... (sorry, I have too much respect for both you and Sharon to just go one way here) I sort of see what she means (I think). Maybe I am deluded, but there is a part of me that believes that when you raise a child in a loving, Objectivist home, and when you encourage him, from the time he is small, to explore and learn, and think rationally, when you prove to him that you love him and respect him as a miniature human being, and you allow him to achieve his full potential...he can't help but become Objectivist. In that respect, yes, you've "created" an Objectivist; but not through mind-control, but through example. I mean, I suppose it is possible that your child who has been treated with love and respect and freedom and encouragement could decide to become a Jesuit priest, or end up a serial killer; it just doesn't seem as likely.  :-)
BTW, Did you see my edit of post #144?
Erica





 




Post 153

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - 3:14pmSanction this postReply
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that doesn't mean spoiling them
Parents who spoil their kids get nothing but contempt. When my nephew was about ten, I told my parents: "He doesn't respect you because you're a pushover." Many grandparents are.
My son loves me, and he still, at 14, asks me about things...how many other teen sons want anything to do with their mom, or would ask her to discuss things with them?
What do his friends say about you?




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Post 154

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - 2:36pmSanction this postReply
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Erica,

Yes, I hadn't seen your answer yet when I made my last post. You wrote:
It seems that the problem concerns rational parents versus irrational parents...
That about sums up most of it, but I would add to it. I know some really nasty people who are rational and some wonderfully loving people who are irrational. That is a dimension that has to be taken into account with children. "Rational" alone does not lead to good will or a benevolent loving nature. Some factors of temperament are inherent, but these attitudes are for the most chosen. Manipulative people, for example, can be highly rational. Good will is a social virtue - one that especially has to be chosen. Frankly, I think this virtue is crucial in to child raising. By good will, I specifically mean respecting the volition of another with benevolence when it does not infringe on another's rights or show signs of morbid pathology.

If a child is lucky enough to have loving rational parents of good will, I can't think of anything better than that for upbringing - except maybe adding a Montessori-type education.

I have another observation. Many great people I have known personally (Maestro Eleazar de Carvalho immediately comes to mind) come from very disadvantageous homes - too many siblings for proper parental attention, extreme poverty, beatings and so forth. So it is obvious to me that education has a limited impact, not a total one, on how adults turn out.

There just ain't any way to make people "moldable." Those little suckers just won't act right. I suppose some parts are more "moldable" that others, but ultimately, some people will choose the high road and some the gutter. That's what morality is for. Morality exists to provide information for the person to be able to choose for himself.

In saying this, I do not discount the effects of outside factors like education, disease or abuse on a person's volitional faculty. They are important, but not the whole story, just like free will is not the whole story. All these factors exist. As with many things, I find the attempt to oversimplify usually leads to very strange conclusions. And the first thing I most often see go out the window is degree, together with the need to scapegoat something (or someone) that is harmless in black-and-white terms.

This leads to a last observation: promoting things by scapegoating others. I do not like this approach at all. Finding an enemy and trouncing him is not a proper way to build anything. That is my resistance to scapegoating fantasy or Mickey Mouse (or Objectivist "heretics," but that is for another time). Rational thought and learning (even Montessori) are not enhanced by talking bad about these things - especially where there is no perceivable empirical evidence showing that they impede cognitive development. All that is pure speculation from theory.

Simply looking around shows you this is not true, too. This is pure induction. We are in a wonderful world full of inventions and goods invented and produced by rational minds. Evil old Mickey Mouse was not able to impede the creation of all that rationally produced wealth. Don't forget that rationally produced wealth comes from rational minds.

I think we are living in the best time the human race has ever had.

Michael




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Post 155

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - 3:51pmSanction this postReply
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What do his friends say about you?


Dear Chris,
          My name is Jacob and I am Erica's son. My mother just happened to show me the post where you asked her what my friends think of her. Well I will be more than happy to answer for her. You see I don't usually hang out with friends at home however, when I mention all of the things that she does for me they start telling me how lucky I am to have her as my mother. Do you know what I tell them? I tell them to stop talking because I already know how lucky I am to have her as a parent. Also as for a side note a lot of my male friends who happen to see my mother thinks she is hot.




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Post 156

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - 4:31pmSanction this postReply
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To All:
I promise---I did not make him say that. 

(I couldn't have; he is a lot bigger than I am. :-)

Erica




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Post 157

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - 6:16pmSanction this postReply
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Jacob,

Good for you, man.

You just warmed my heart.

(I see Ed ain't got no major troubles there...)

Michael





Post 158

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - 7:32pmSanction this postReply
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Creating Objectivists, one way or the other...

Of course we should be creating objectivists! This is done both by procreating, and by demonstrating the truth to our friends and kin, but not by inculcating it.

Deanna,

You are absolutely right that objectivist thought on parenting is sorely needed. If man is a rational animal, does that mean he is not a rational animal?

My nephew is lucky to have the parents he has - although luck had nothing to do with it. My sister's only regret is that she did not have children earlier. Any objectivist on this list who's thinking of having children, IT'S YOUR GOD ORDAINED DUTY!!!

Although they might not wish to claim me, I would give my parents huge credit for two things. They never lied to me. And they always explained everything I asked of them. I can vividly recall my disappointment the first time they told me that they couldn't explain something to me - I was five or six, and wanted to know what "Watergate" was. My parents said that it was something bad about what the president had done, but that I would have to be older before I would be able to understand. Looking back, I know they were absolutely correct. And I do quite vividly remember them having fought, because I only saw it happen once.

As for children not having autonomy? I remember having a crush on the Six-Million Dollar Man at the same age, as well as on Jamie Summers. And I can recall things I did at three-and-a-half that surprised my parents, earlier then that, I don't remember. Parents can enable or destroy a child, but give the child some credit.

For his birthday, I bought my nephew D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths, (and the D'Aulaire's Norse.) I must have borrowed D'Aulaire’s Greek out of my elementary school library two dozen times as a child. After five days searching fruitlessly for a gift, once I saw it, I immediately knew D'Aulaire's Greek, was the perfect present. When he unwrapped it, my sister cooed to her delight that she had loved it herself, and that she must have gotten it out of the library some twenty time as least. I also got him a 3-foot-long stuffed stegosaur, and two small hard plastic meat-eaters. He has just been allowed to start playing with the small dinosaurs. He is fascinated by their teeth and spines. While he doesn't talk too much, he roars quite enthusiastically. He also loves the zoo, and especially the wild cats. Should I fear he'll become some sort of twisted pagan or totemistic therophile?

Sharon,

I read the reviews of Kingfisher Days on Amazon, and have added it to my cart. What would you say is the minimum age for a reader?

Ted Keer, Sep 12, 2006, NYC

In Nomine Filii, et Filiae, et Spiriti Nostri, id est.






Post 159

Wednesday, September 13, 2006 - 6:50amSanction this postReply
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Also as for a side note a lot of my male friends who happen to see my mother thinks she is hot.
I knew it!




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