Posts Tagged ‘Parenting’
A nation of wimps

Stress a source of strength:

A Nation of Wimps: Parents are going to ludicrous lengths to take the bumps out of life for their children. However, parental hyperconcern has the net effect of making kids more fragile; that may be why they’re breaking down in record numbers.

Nassim Taleb’s antifragility strikes again:

Fragile things break under stress. But, according to Nassim Nicholas Taleb, there’s an entire class of other things that don’t simply resist stress but actually grow, strengthen, or otherwise gain from unforeseen and otherwise unwelcome stimuli. Taleb sees degrees of antifragility everywhere, from fasting, mythology, and urban planning to economic, technological, cultural, and biological systems.

A 20 min Nassim Nicholas Taleb youtube discussion is worth listening to here

Antifragility highlights yet again how we tend to create that which we most fear. In trying to protect our children from harm now, we cause them harm later. Preventing short term harm can cause long term problems. Unfortunately short run gains are often readily apparent, while the long term harm is hidden. Keynesian economics is the classic example, as is the welfare state.

The purported goal of the welfare state, to help people, is noble. But once a society creates a welfare state its people have different expectations about their possible futures. They therefore make different choices and their behavior changes. This changes people, and the society which they in aggregate form. Over time it changes the values their children grow up with. People and society fundamentally diverge from what would have eventuated absent the welfare state. At the individual level this is epitomized by the saying:

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habit.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny

Thus a strong sovereign people and vigorous society can be transformed into something far weaker and more fragile. Truly the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Parenting police

The cancerous growth of the state continues apace. Soon you will not even be able to go to the bathroom without the approval of an officious bureaucrat. Oops, looks like the State got there before me. At least in terms of approving the toilet.

Of course, regulatory bodies will rely on input from industry. Industry leaders will use regulations and their ability to influence them for competitive advantage. Once the industry leader has developed a lower water use flushing toilet they will work for a tightening of the standards. Thus forcing competitors out of the market until they can develop a matching product. Developing such a product probably involves redesigning the whole system, not an instant exercise. From such moves are mountains of money made.

Environmental concerns are so often simply the mechanism by which  a vested interest lines their pockets at the expense of the public good. Facilitated of course by the regulatory state. Super normal profits provide plenty of scope to fund client politicians. The drive for a legislative of regulatory advantage explains this:

Profit seeking firms are relatively indifferent to the mechanism by which they derive their profits. Patents, copyrights, regulations and increasingly fraud. What counts is its ability to secure super normal profits. This is as it should be. The profit motive is a powerful force for progress when constrained within a healthy market. The profit motive needs to be embedded in a cultural, legislative and regulatory framework that makes it work for good, not ill.

The profit motive is a constant of human affairs. The drive for money, power and prestige is fairly fundamental. The urge to secure our children’s future is also fundamental. It can be lost and may not be held equally by all individuals. Deviant sub-cultures can arise. But it is the culture of capitalism that makes it generate rising living standards. It is the cultural framework that separates capitalism from all other societies in all of history prior to the last couple of hundred years.

There is more at stake than most realize in our culture wars. The assault on traditional attitudes to parenting can have dire consequences. The focus has moved on from how we give birth and wean our children to how we shape their character.

Free-Range Parenting: You’re Going to Go to Jail. Maybe: The days when 11- and 12-year-old neighborhood kids were considered competent babysitters appear to be long gone.

Of course 12 year old’s can’t be expected to be babysitters. It would imply they were capable of sound decision making. Next thing you know they would be expanding that to all adults, and depriving the state of much of its raison d’être.

Your peers might not be allowed to look after your kids either:

England’s Children’s Minister wants a review of the case of two police officers told they were breaking the law, caring for each other’s children.

Ofsted said the arrangement contravened the Childcare Act because it lasted for longer than two hours a day, and constituted receiving “a reward”.

It said the women would have to be registered as childminders.

Heaven forbid mum should pack the kids lunches:

Preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because the school told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious.

The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the person who was inspecting all lunch boxes in the More at Four classroom that day.

The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs — including in-home day care centers — to meet USDA guidelines. That means lunches must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables, even if the lunches are brought from home.

Naturally nutritious food is important at home as well. The government must act to ensure children at home are not deprived of an equal opportunity to eat well. Best prepare for the knock on the door, the inspection of dinner, the contents of the fridge and the refuse bin. Far fetched. Try telling to someone who knows what free societies were like forty years ago.

Legally the situation is getting difficult for those with a traditional attitude to parenting. An attitude in part designed to raise adults capable of looking after themselves and able to stand on their own two feet. Adults who do not want to rely on the State when ill, old or in tough times.

Such adults are liable to possess a few other traits. Like knowing actions have consequences. You don’t have to believe in karma to know that spending more than you have eventually results in dire consequences. That if you try and ignore the future, to maximize pleasure now then your future will be bleak. It’s a fact Obama and much of the left do not appreciate.

The left are being hoist with their own petard. Their opposition to discrimination has resulted in an inability to discriminate between good and bad, right and wrong. Their dislike of being judgmental has resulted in a total lack of judgement. Their central nostrums are too divergent from reality. Basically they engage in magical thinking.

Sadly the lefts rejection of reality does not make reality any less real, as Winston Churchill said:

Truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it, ignorance may deride it, malice may distort it, but there it is.

You cannot forever shield people from the consequences of their actions. Perhaps you can for some aspects, for some time, for some individuals. But collectively a society lives and dies by the sum if its component individuals actions. By the choices they make, by their collective wisdom and good judgement. By their ability to discriminate. Undermine too many peoples understanding of reality, distort too many peoples decision making and you set society on a path to destruction. It matters little what the path is paved with, the destination remains the same.

When considering the implications of  state intrusion into child raising remember the Jesuit motto “Give me the child for seven years, and I will give you the man”

Criminal Child Neglect and the “Free Range Kid”: Is Overprotective Parenting the New Standard of Care?: Intensive parenting is becoming the norm in the dominant American subcultures, which are embracing safety-conscious parenting approaches that might once have been viewed disapprovingly as “overprotective” parenting….

De facto legal standards appear to be evolving right along with these attitudes about proper parenting…


It was widely accepted 150 years ago that “children, even very young children, were capable of caring not only for themselves, but also for cows, sheep, chickens, and even younger siblings”. News flash. They still are. They need to be given responsibility, so they learn how to act responsibly. Over time they will become responsible adults. Truly responsible adults. Not ones that lean on the state. A nation of leaners can not stand.

There is hope on this battle front:

A growing movement of parents is resisting the societal pressure to engage in overprotective parenting. These parents happily embrace the risks of a child falling from a tree, for example, even breaking a bone in the process, in the belief that the freedom, creativity, physical exercise, and sense of empowerment that a child gets from learning to climb trees far outweighs the attendant risk of injury.

Even more important is the idea of giving children autonomy, allowing them to play outdoors unsupervised, to walk or ride a bicycle to school or a friend’s house. These parents believe that this is important in helping children develop a sense of responsibility and self-sufficiency

Don’t blame overprotective parents. It’s difficult to step outside your cultural paradigm.  Orwell was correct in his portrayal of the power of big brother. But this is how our freedom dies. Not lost in large chunks, as if torn apart in a frenzied shark attack, but nibbled to death by piranhas. Death by a thousand cuts comes to mind.