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The night after dag29580863 left, my dad and I had a long… - Accretions

Fata Morgana
2003-12-26 12:01
(no subject)
Public
thoughtfulthoughtful
The night after dag29580863 left, my dad and I had a long conversation about science, religion, globalization, and parenting. He says the most important thing in parenting - or in any interaction with kids - is to treat children as equals, and realize that in many ways they are intellectual superiors. I've seen various parents and teachers treat kids like they were empty vessels to be filled or lumps of clay that had to be molded (sometimes pounded) into shape, but they are treating children as subhuman and killing that amazing creativity and inquisitiveness that make kids so much smarter than us. I've also seen many kids who have complete control of their parents, because their parents underestimate their kids' ability to analyze a situation and get the upper hand. Or they'll be controlled for a while, but when they're teenagers they're not going to consider their parents as equals, and they're going to feel that it's necessary to go behind their backs. (My mom unilaterally set my curfew, but my dad and I discussed it and jointly set one. The trust was there.)

I sometimes worry that I won't be a good parent because I have such a distaste for closed-mindedness and consumerism and a host of other things, that I'd be really disappointed if my kid ended up with any of those qualities ... or worse, I'd try to force it out of them. My dad laughed and brushed this off: "No kid of yours could end up that way." Really? Why not? He shrugged, then said he just couldn't describe the excitement and joy of being a parent, and how it changes you. He didn't think such worries would even cross my mind when I became a parent. But when I lose control, when they're teenagers? "You never have 'control' of your kids," Dad admonishes. You just teach them, and learn from them too.

It'll be interesting to see how my dad and other family members are when they get old. Until my first landlady in Berkeley, I had not met one person over 65 who was happy. When I was a teenager I vowed that when I was old I'd be like Miss Violet (I think?) in Anne of Green Gables, who has flowing white hair and keeps a lovely house and reads and is wonderful company. There are a host of other older literary characters who have their expertise, from cooking to storytelling (there are several in Dandelion Wine alone), and keep a love and excitement for life - but I had no non-literary examples to back up my dream. Do all old folks get jaded and cynical? How and why? How can I avoid it, and keep my love for life and learning and excitement? (Hell, how can I make sure to keep nurturing all those past childhood?)
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zestyping
2003-12-26 22:22 (UTC)
(no subject)
I'm envious. :) It's wonderful that your dad is so thoughtful and interesting and full of useful advice.

It's my natural inclination to treat children as equals because i've tried not to forget what it was like to be a kid, and i really don't feel much smarter now — only more experienced. I guess i worry about having the opposite problem: in some cases parents have to make decisions for their children because parents have the experience to make them better, but children have no basis on which to trust those decisions. A big glaring example is that i know now how valuable my years of piano lessons were, but i hated being forced to take them when i was little. I don't know how i would convince or force a child to do the same. Beyond a certain point, the reasoned arguments would end and i'd have to fall back on "trust me, you'll thank me later" or something similar. I don't know if i'd feel right just commanding a kid to do something without believing that they fully understood my reasons.
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Fata Morgana
chimerically
2003-12-27 00:19 (UTC)
piano
You can meet him in May at graduation! Maybe I'll bring him to bab5. :~) Sometimes he's not very scientific, but he is thoughtful, and a very good social analyst.

Hmm, I wonder how I was convinced to do piano lessons, and later swim team and violin and ballet and all. I think my parents made me realize that lessons were an expensive privilege, and I had heard somewhere that music training helps discipline and concentration and other things, and my mom played piano ... and maybe I was just weird. Even when I was bad about practicing, I felt grateful for piano lessons. But that is a hard one. You can explain how piano lessons were good for you, how they are allegedly good in general, and how others regret not taking advantage of the opportunity, but you may not be able to convince them with that. It didn't work on my sis - she went from instrument to instrument (piano, flute, harp, ...) then gave up lessons altogether. I don't know if she regrets it or not at this point.
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nikita
hukuma
2003-12-27 19:26 (UTC)
Re: piano
My parents convinced me into piano lessons by saying that if I wanted to play with the piano (I used to toy with it since I was little), I should learn how to do it properly. But I guess I didn't mind my piano lessons as much; I hated the choir, but (at least from my perspective) it came as a package in music school.

I think that my parents would justify the things they thought I should do, but didn't always offer me a choice to disagree... In retrospect, I'm pretty happy with how that worked out.
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