Parenting Done Right: Make Them Earn Knowledge
Just Give Them The World
When you have kids there is no instruction manual, although everyone is an expert if you ask them. Even me. I'm an expert, you need proof? Ask me. I'll tell you what's up. Or better yet, look at my daughter. She is STILL alive. She has not had her life terminated by circumstance or purposeful action on mine, or anyone else's part. What I can tell you is this. I have a child generally commented on by strangers who see her and caretakers who deal wit her as "well behaved" or "so sweet and good."
Some of it is obviously luck, I definitely did not deserve a well behaved child. I was always taught that a child makes you pay for what you did to your parents as a child. It's what Bill Cosby referred to as "the curse." Anyway more of that later. If you have an infant, make sure you read Parenting Done Right: Self Soothing.
The subject at hand is letting your kid learn something the hard way. Go ahead and scroll down to the bottom of the article, make a comment about how I am a horrible human being, get all that out of your system, then make sure no one is watching you read this, and enjoy it.
Dads vs. Moms
So basically at its core this is going to be an explanation on why Dad does it differently than Mom, written by a guy, so guess who wins? I'll try not to be sexist but it is in mom's nature to protect children, give them everything. Dad's are all together different. My dad didn't give me crap. Well, on second thought, he gave me lots of crap, but not much else.
It has been a long tradition, practiced by his father and his father before him. My dad made me earn knowledge. Every hard earned bit of knowledge I managed to get my hands on was valuable indeed. Because they were so valuable I never forgot them. Important things, like stay out of dad's private drawer, and what happens when you harass the neighbor's dog.
So here is something deep to think about. Aristotle said "For the things we have to learn to do them, we learn by doing them." Some things you just cannot be taught through explanation, or looking at a chart. It is the age old question "If your kid is going to touch a hot stove do you let them or stop them?"
Well the answer is you let them touch it, you try not to laugh. That's probably easy, it wasn't for me, but well, read the above comments about me being a horrible person. Before you get upset, lets at least look at why. Well, why you let them touch it, not why you laugh. You laugh cause it's funny.
Describe Red Please
So if you have a blind person. How do you describe what the color red is? There is no way to do this. They are completely ignorant to color, at least in theory. Well, children are ignorant. It's our jobs as parents to make sure that they don't grow up to still be ignorant. Some things if you're still ignorant about at 20, is not cause you are ignorance....It's cause you are stupid.
Just like you can't teach a blind person what red is, you can't teach an ignorant person what hot is. Some things just have to be learned the hard way. You tell a child hot, that means nothing if they have no frame of reference. You tell a kid who just touched the hot stove, "that's hot" they get it. Hopefully.
When your outside and working with Dad on the truck engine, and he says "Don't touch that, it's hot." You get it, or you get giant burns on your palms that require a trip to the ER.
Sometimes We Have To Learn the Hard Way
I'm not going to dance around this subject. Most of us are stupid. Now don't go getting all offended, I'm in this mess as well. Now think about how many times you can think about this situation:
"You have been told not to do this multiple times, you have been told when you do it, bad thing X will happen. You are in the situation, you do what you were warned against, and Bad thing X happens."
Probably more than you want to admit. It's Ok, you don't have to comment on the number. The point is we make mistakes, then we learn from them, every time you stop your kid from making the same mistake, you are impeding their growth. When the kid tries to touch the stove and you say "Stop, that is hot, it will burn and hurt." Every time after the first time is wasted time, the kid could have moved on and learned something else.
The Stakes Only Get Higher
There is a trick to all this. You want to make sure that you expose your kid to things they will survive. For obvious reasons, I mean there are laws against not doing it. Moral and emotional implications as well I guess.
You want your kid learning the stove is hot before falling into a fire.
It's good practice. Eventually they are going to deal with serious things. Things that they can only learn the hard way. People with relationship issues, consequences for paying bills late. Breaking the law. A lot of learning to deal with this is just as much for your benefit as theirs. You will have to learn to watch them fail. They do it enough early on then they don't do it nearly as much later. Well at least in theory.
Be Hard On Them Cause You Care
They are your kids, give them some credit. If you think highly of them, as I know you do. They will survive the fire. The strongest swords are forged in the hottest of flames. It will be hard, knowing what is going to happen, and watching them go off, and do it. It's a good thing to warn them once first.
Maybe one day, eventually, they will stop and listen before they go and do it anyway. Eventually it happens. Eventually we all grow up a little and learn we don't know everything, and figure out how to learn from other people's mistakes, when your kid does this congratulations, you succeeded. That kind of wisdom has a price. A very painful, and probably funny, price. It helps if you learn to laugh at it now, cause you know you tell stupid stories you did as a kid as jokes. Your kids will one day too. It's okay if you start now.
Just don't tell their friends. Be cool about it.