I think I've picked up some new readers (hello!) and I know that not everyone has the time or inclination to go back and read all of my posts from the last (almost) six years. And let's face it--I'm wordy, which I do recognize as an obstacle to all but the most eager, interested, and intrepid blog readers.
And yet, I think that sometimes when I write parenting posts I am unconsciously assuming that everyone has either A.) read everything I've written and retained it or B.) lives inside my head and somehow knows all of my context and definitions. What I mean is, I think sometimes I am not defining terms or ideas very clearly. And if I am unclear, please ask!
So I thought, as a semi-regular fun bloggy thing, I might feature a previous parenting post. This is partly for myself--to jog my memory and to see if I still agree with some of my premises and assumptions from way back--and partly for any readers who might be new-ish to my blog and/or non-punitive/non-rewarding parenting and who don't want to wade through all of the years of posts.
This week, I picked my very first post where I wrote explicitly about one way I try to apply Objectivism to my parenting practices. It's called Parenting with Objectivist Principles and was originally posted in July 2007. Nearly four years ago, wow!
You can click the link to read the whole thing if you want, or you can just read some highlights and my current thoughts about this subject. It's all very Decide What You Will Do around here at my blog, see?
Here's how the post starts:
"What is your work going to be today?"
I ask this question of my 5 year old each morning over breakfast. A typical answer, which can be anywhere from 30 seconds to 30 minutes long (seriously), might be something like: "Well, first I'm going to be a Builder Peopleguy* and build a road, then I'll open up a store that sells electrical wires. After that, I'll be a Zookeeper Peopleguy and I'll specialize in snakes and lizards, and of course, I'll have to feed them...."
The 2 year old has begun to join in these conversations, too, and will usually indicate a desire to splash water in the sink or work on puzzles.
Then I talk about my own plans for the day: laundry, clean up the kitchen, the cabin business, pay bills, the garage project, any errands that need doing, etc.
It's funny to me that the kids featured in this post are now 9 and 6 instead of 5 and 2, but that's how Mr. Time works, huh?
I still ask this question most mornings, and the current 2 year old generally chimes in with an answer, too.
I liked this paragraph (broken up into more readable chunks here):
And as is the case with all small children, they do want to follow our example. In the safe haven of their home, they decide on goals of their own interest, plan how to achieve them, and perform the actions necessary to achieve them, and we grownups make sure to give them space and time.
The work of a child is to learn about reality, including how his own body and mind work. When kids follow the examples we set, they practice being adults, they learn and practice the habits that will help them achieve their goals as adults. Our job as their parents is to let them get on with that work.
And so along the way, we answer their questions, make problem-solving suggestions, provide materials and other resources (and by that I of course mean stickers and electrical wires), and are ready with encouraging words and sympathy if necessary. But above all, we stand back and try not to interfere too much. Their work is and should be theirs.
I think anyone who has a child they really care about in their lives can relate to the following experience (I added links to the online version of the Ayn Rand Lexicon):
When my oldest exclaims that he just loves to work hard on his own projects, when he jumps up and down after successfully hammering in a plastic dowel, when he excitedly calls me over to look at the road he designed and built, he is experiencing the result of productiveness for himself--pride.
Notably, this post was the first one in which the word peopleguy was ever used. :D
I enjoyed reading this one over. I liked the writing and I am pleased to be able to say that nothing has really changed along these lines in the four years since writing it.
As I already mentioned, we do have discussions about what our daily plans are. The kids are, for the most part, very self-directed in what work they choose to do (whether the given 'work' happens to be a project or something academic or play or entertainment). I try not to interrupt them unless necessary (that's directly inspired by Maria Montessori).
So yes, this was a good one. Thanks for walking down memory lane with me!