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Are We Grown Up Yet? Study Says Not 'Till 26

 
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 May, 2003 03:34 am
sozobe wrote:
But I am utterly gobsmacked at the things my parents allowed me to do when I was a kid, by myself. Nothing too terrible happened, but I was in many seriously dangerous situtations. I struggle a lot with what I will allow, since I think some of that is necessary, but I'm NOT gonna let her walk across the Mississippi river on a six-inch plank when she's 12. Period.

I believe this is mostly a self-correcting problem. For all I know about the Sozlet from your posts here and on other forums, she's every bit as tough as you are. If it's important for her to walk across the Missisippi that way, she'll just do it no matter if you permit it or not. On the other hand, if she's as sensible as she comes across in your descriptions, and if you talk as much sense to her as you do to us, she'll probably take your advice anyway. I'd predict she'll even ask for it from time to time. No need to forbid a lot.

Nevertheless, if it's really, really important for you to give a child the absolutely perfect childhood, you might want to consider having a Sozlet II. Sozlet the elder will then rebel away your most authoritarian vibes, allowing Sozlet II to be raised by the perfect mom. This has been our experience with my own mom anyway (who still did a wonderful job on her first child).

-- Thomas
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sozobe
 
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Reply Tue 13 May, 2003 07:26 am
Thanks for the advice, CodeBorg and Thomas. Smile I firmly believe that there is a benefit to having a loving, protective, concerned mother throughout one's childhood, without being authoritarian. I think I can even say "I don't want you to walk across the plank for this, this and this reason," and if she DOES anyway... I'll be mad but ultimately forgiving. Assuming she gets across OK. Knock on wood.

I don't presume that my every wish will be adhered to, and I think there is value in clearly setting up what is and is not OK, while maintaining lines of communication to the point where she feels like she can talk to me about anything.

If we're talking about kids -- actual kids, not 17-18 quasi-kids -- numerous studies have shown that too much freedom really is a bad thing. They want structure and safety.

We'll see.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 May, 2003 10:08 am
sozobe wrote:
If we're talking about kids -- actual kids, not 17-18 quasi-kids -- numerous studies have shown that too much freedom really is a bad thing. They want structure and safety.

I'm skeptical about these studies. I haven't read the primary literature, but the popularized versions I've read in magazines usually blur the crucial distinction between being an authority and acting authoritarian. You can decide how authoritarian to behave. But whether you're an authority or not is something your children decide -- like it or not -- and you have little direct influence on it except being a good role model. What gives children structure and safety is that they can look up to their parents as authorities. Whether they are also authoritarians or not doesn't make a difference either way.

For example, I'm an anti-authoritarian authority to my nephews and nieces. I never order them around, but when I ask them not to do something, they almost never do it. (Knock on wood -- and this might fail to work with my yet-to-be-conceived children.) On the other hand, I'd predict that if you rewind your life to the age of 10 and rerun your childhood, this time with your parents spanking you more, the picture doesn't get any better. By contrast, I'd predict the picture does get better if you rerun your childhood with parents who are better role models. Am I making any sense here? Not sure.

The point I tried to make in my last post was that I have every reason to believe the Sozlet respects you as an authority. As a result of that, I expect you will find it very hard to screw things up by choosing the wrong level of authoritarianism -- even if you tried. You may be a bit more of an authoritarian than I am, but I believe most pedagogics books overhype the difference this would make in practice -- either way.

-- Thomas, childless armchair professor of theoretical pedagogics, who just loves to lecture experts Wink
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 May, 2003 10:33 am
Very Happy

I'm talking about authoritative more than authoritarian. The studies I am speaking of have to do with children (and again I mean CHILDREN -- birth on) who are given very few boundaries at all -- what to eat, when to go to bed, when to go to school. Or who have boundaries that are constantly changing -- you have to go to bed by 8. Oh, except for today, because I want to finish watching this movie first. But tomorrow -- you have to be in bed by 7!

I have seen that with the sozlet -- she really prefers routine and order to when things are more free-flowing.

This is not about spanking, at all. Or "My way or the highway". Or "Because I'm the mom, that's why." (Well, maybe a bit of that. Wink) It is about setting boundaries and expecting that the child will adhere to those boundaries unless they have a very good reason, and that the child will explain that reason before crossing those boundaries.
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 May, 2003 11:11 am
sozobe wrote:
I have seen that with the sozlet -- she really prefers routine and order to when things are more free-flowing.


See? You gave her routine and order, and she decided -- probably not consciously -- that routine and order make sense. Contrast this with my father's parents who were 100% Nazis even after 1945 (my family is from Germany). They set a lot of boundaries, but all they got from their children was pointless rebellions because their boundaries didn't make any sense. They started as early as when their children were 5 years old. The reason you get only limited rebellion from your own daughter is because you give her something that makes sense to her, not because you give her something that constrains her.

Apart from that, do you believe that you really have a lot of choice in the boundaries you set? On a decision-by-decision basis, sure, but in the long run? I'd believe that in the long, it's very hard to be one kind of person and another kind of parent. So I'd expect that your choice of constraints isn't really a choice in the long run. It's just who you are. I could be wrong of course. Am I?
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 May, 2003 03:14 am
Sozobe --

This freedom vs. structure debate has caught my interest now, and I'm trying to find evidence one way or the other on the Web. I remember there used to be a large debate about those extremely libertarian schools like Summerhill in England and Sudbury in Massachusetts. I think the evaluation of their performance should bring us much closer to an answer because it averages out the differences in competence among the grown-ups. Trouble is, most of the literature I find on Google and Amazon is obviously prejudiced one way or the other, and I'm somewhat lost trying to sort out something objective. I assume you must have done rather extensive research on this, so could you perhaps give me a pointer? Thanks!

-- Thomas
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 May, 2003 12:47 pm
I have read Summerhill, and think there is a lot to recommend it. I recently mentioned on another thread that one problem that I have with various educational methods is that I feel there is a central intuitive kernel that is present in a great teacher and cannot be intellectualized/ codified. I think A.S. Neil exemplifies that -- I think HE was a great teacher, but I think his attempt to codify what made him a great teacher was flawed. There are numerous inconsistencies -- he is strict here, lenient there. (Don't ask me to give examples, please, as I'd have to go through the whole book again -- if my say-so is not enough, that's of course fine.)

At any rate, I think there is a vast middle between complete regimentation and complete freedom. I am NOT for setting the sozlet on a strict schedule, telling her exactly what she can and can't eat and when she can and can't eat it, etc. I am also not for the opposite. The middle we occupy is that I put a fair amount of effort into making sure that an early bedtime is attractive to her; I manipulate the circumstances, but do not force her. I manipulate the circumstances of what she eats, as well -- I do not turn her loose in the grocery store and let her stock up on sugary/ fatty foods, but I offer her her choice of the healthy foods we do have in the fridge/ pantry. Etc.

My husband just sent me an article that looks very interesting, and seems to coincidentally have a lot to do with this subject. (It is something he and I have talked about a lot.) I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but here it is for anyone who is interested:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A27365-2003May7.html

You have to fill in some stupid info to get to it -- I just lied. Very Happy
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 May, 2003 12:58 pm
Ooh, just read the article, it's great!! No time just now but may start another thread on the subject.
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 May, 2003 01:47 pm
Haven't read your article yet, but I just realized that my last-but-one post can be read as comparing you against a pair of hardcore Nazis. I can be rude sometimes, but I'm not that rude, and I certainly didn't mean it that way!

As for the middle ground, I think we're basically coming to similar conclusions from different premises. I see the structure you give the Sozlet as something she values and that also happens to constrain her. You see it as something that's valuable because it constrains her. But we both agree it's a good thing, and I suspect that in practice I'll turn out to raise my children pretty much like you raise yours.

Later Smile

-- Thomas
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