You can now find it at http://aonemandam.quora.com.
This is a really important question because I believe “modern parents” continually ask themselves the wrong question, and it is leading to generations of children who are growing up to be incompetent narcissists.
This wrong question is “how will this [event, action, outcome, etc.] make my child feel?”. Given that the ideal feeling is happiness, modern parents’ actions and inactions are all directed towards making their children happy. The problem with this mindset is that there are many things in life that evoke negative emotions that are beneficial to the development of a child and many things that result in positive emotions but adversely affect childhood development. But when parents’ worldviews see happiness as the end-all-be-all, their actions will almost never permit them to allow their child to experience these “negative-emotion-positive-outcome” events, and they will often tolerate or encourage “positive-emotion-negative-outcome” events.
The correct question for all parents to ask is “will this [event, action, outcome, etc.] make my child into a better adult?”. (I define a good adult as one who is a humble, caring, productive, happy member of society.) Children’s feelings are of secondary importance relative to how an experience will affect their development as an adult. So if something will make a child a better adult, it’s okay that they experience negative emotions. If something will make them a worse adult, then it does not matter if it makes them feel good, that experience should be avoided.
Here are some scenarios that show how these distinct worldviews can lead to dramatically different parenting styles and consequences. (Note: the consequences highlighted below presume a continual behavior pattern consistent with the one illustrated in the scenario, not simply a single instance of the scenario.)
SCENARIO 1: Child gets cut from their sports team
How a Feelings-Based Parents React
Child is devastated so the parents either argue with the coach to get their child reinstated, create another league for the cut children, or create a school policy that children cannot be cut from teams.
CONSEQUENCE: The child never improves the necessary skillsets to make the team because he no longer needs to. Additionally, you create an adult without the drive to improve themselves because he expects the world to adjust to him and not penalize him for his weaknesses.
How an Outcome-Based Parents React
Parent explains to the child that he either needs to get better and try again next year or move on to another endeavor for which be is better suited.
CONSEQUENCE: The child is forced to improve his skillset or find something that fits his strengths. Either way, he develops a sense of tenacity, becomes better at something, and understands he needs to improve in order to succeed rather than having the world adjust to his weaknesses.
SCENARIO 2: Child gets verbally disciplined by an adult who is not their parent
How a Feelings-Based Parents React
Child is sad, embarrassed, and possibly frightened, so his parents confront the disciplining adult and tell them not to speak to their child.
CONSEQUENCE: Child’s respect for authority is weakened and turns into an adult who does not believe they do anything wrong and is unable to accept criticism.
How an Outcome-Based Parents React
Child was in the wrong, so the parent either takes no action or reinforces the message of the disciplining adult.
CONSEQUENCE: An adult who has a respect for authority, understands that they are fallible, and has the ability to receive criticism and make themselves better as a result of it.
SCENARIO 3: Child wants an expensive care for their 16th b-day
How a Feelings-Based Parents React
Child gets the car because it will make him happy.
CONSEQUENCE: A spoiled child who expects that the best life has to offer be handed to him. He feels a tremendous sense of entitlement and, as an adult, becomes unhappy with a world that does not hand him everything on a silver platter.
How an Outcome-Based Parents React
Child gets a reasonably priced car because receiving extravagant gifts as a teenager can lead him to become spoiled.
CONSEQUENCE: Turns into an adult who understands that he has a supportive family unit behind him, but he will need to earn the finer things in life.
SCENARIO 4: Child gets a bad grade
How a Feelings-Based Parents React
Child feels bad, so parents take the path that will make the child happy without making him/her feel worse in the interim. They approach the teacher, defend their child’s work, and demand that the grade be improved.
CONSEQUENCE: The child believes he can do no wrong, his respect for authority is weakened (as parents attack teacher), and his skill set is not improved because he did not need to do anything to improve his grade.
How an Outcome-Based Parents React
Parents know that a competent adult needs to understand this particular academic subject, so they explain to the child he needs to shape up and improve the grade.
CONSEQUENCE: the child learns that he has underperformed, develops a respect for authority (parent and teacher), and he is forced to do what it takes to improve himself in order to achieve the better grade.
I recently ran across this article in USAToday … and I threw up all over my dinner plate.
Feel free to read the article, but the gist of it is that a number of college students are now getting their dorm rooms decorated by interior designers.
Now look, I don’t mind parents giving their kids some nice bedding and decorations for their dorm rooms. It’s okay to provide for your children and send them off to college with a nice proverbial pat on the butt, but hiring interior designers for your Freshman and then buying thousands and thousands of dollars worth of furnishings is ridiculous. Two reasons.
Your child should not be the center of your universe. By enabling your child to avail themselves of such expensive and indulgent services as an interior designer, you are putting your child on a pedestal, which is incredibly unhealthy for their development. Don’t believe me? Let me quote from one of the brats in this article. “I would probably be jealous if somebody had a cuter room, but nobody does,” Griffin Knight says. “I am quite spoiled, and I am well aware.” … Holy s#*?balls!
Your child needs to learn independence. One of the most important things (if not the most important thing) that college can instill in a teenager is a sense of independence. You must let them do for themselves so that they can become well-adjusted, self-sufficient, competent adult. Hiring an interior designer to design what is likely your child’s first thing that is truly their own is a complete subversion of weaning your children from your teat. How selfish can you be?
Unfortunately, in the Age of Modern Parenting, this sort of s#*! is par for the course.
P.S. Given my subject line, I feel I should have made some sort of Extreme Makeover pun, but nothing seemed organic. So … Move that bus!!
I am not being flippant when I say this - statistically speaking (which, frankly, is what truly matters) it is more irresponsible for you to take your child places in your car than it is for your ex to put him on public transportation. The odds of you getting into a car accident (whether your fault or the other driver’s) is incredibly more likely to happen than a kidnapping or any other conceivable mishap via public transportation.
People’s perception of the unsafeness of public transportation is driven largely by (i) the fact that public transportation was less safe decades ago and (ii) the media’s unrelenting coverage of incredibly rare events like kidnappings by strangers (which is one of the key fears parents have when it comes to their children and public transportation).
Further, not only is your son’s use of public transportation safe, but it is also good for him and for you. It will instill a sense of independence, confidence, and competence in your child as well as put your fears into perspective and make you a less worrisome person.
(The one caveat here is if either end of your son’s commute is in a high crime area, then public transportation may not be a good idea. But there are several indicators here that lead me to believe that this is not the case.)
A few nights ago, my wife and I were watching Aly Raisman’s amazing uneven bar routine. Then the cameras replayed her parents’ reactions as she was executing said routine. It was organic, genuine, and hysterical. It was a perfect visual and auditory encapsulation of what it is to be a parent.
My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and when I woke up the next morning, I saw that the rest of the country was equally captivated by the moment.
And so I ask one favor of this child-obsessed, hyper-competitive, me-first generation that are modern parents — let’s appreciate that moment for what it was and move on. In a world where parents now think they are as much a part of their child’s sport as their child is and where parents are obsessively measuring themselves against one another, I can see the Raismans’ wonderful, spontaneous moment being bastardized and turned into a litmus test for who loves their child more.
Not gyrating your body wildly as your son swings at that pitch? Well you clearly don’t love him as much as you should. My daughter’s returning a serve at her high school’s tennis semi-finals, so I better mutter nervously under my breath or else people will think I don’t care enough. Time to manufacture a scream of pure joy so fellow parents will clearly see my love for my little ballerina.
Let’s understand that love is displayed and measured in many different ways, and most of them don’t need to be (in fact, shouldn’t be) at the in-your-face level. So just because the Raisman’s act the way they do (perfectly fine for them), does not mean that it is now the standard by which all parents’ love should be judged. Silent observation or (god forbid) not even going to your child’s sporting events are 100% acceptable behaviors.
One last request. Although this one is for the media. Please don’t ruin this. I don’t want to see all of sport littered with “parent cams.” I don’t want to see how Maria Sharapova’s parents react to her serve, and I don’t care if Alex Rodriguez’s mom bounces her knee or screams expletives when he’s up at bat. I watch sports for the world-class athletes, not their parents. Moreover, if you do institute ubiquitous parent cams, you will accelerate and beget the exact type of deplorable competitive-loving scenarios that I am praying don’t happen. So although I know you have no idea what the words “special”, “self-restraint”, and “moment” mean, I beg you not to ruin what is truly a memorable Olympic snapshot by turning it into a played-out cliché that has negative societal consequences.
The answer is yes, polygamy is an attack on (traditional) marriage. However, this then begs the question - is that a bad thing? My answer would be “not necessarily.”
There are four potential “marriage structures” that are worthy of discussion - monogamy, polyamory, bigamy, and polygamy. I think a society that permits and accepts the first three will see much greater success in permanent, happy bondings. And I believe permanent, happy bondings are the key to a moral, productive, and happy society.
MONOGAMY: Traditional marriage falls into this bucket. Inherently, human beings are not monogamous animals. Therefore, forcing this structure universally across our species is not wise and, not surprisingly, this reality manifests itself in the form of incredibly high (>50%) divorce rates in the U.S. (and that doesn’t even account for the portion of the intact marriages that are unhappy). Having said that, invariably there is a portion of the population who desires complete monogamy, so this social construct works for that group of people, just not everyone. (For the record, I fall into this bucket.)
POLYAMORY: For the purposes of this answer, I will define polyamory as a marriage between two people where one or both partners openly have discrete “affairs” (meaning each partner knows that the other is having affairs (i.e., open), but neither flaunts it within the relationship or publicly (i.e., discrete)). I think polyamory is probably the most natural social construct for people. It provides both the stability and emotional satisfaction of a permanent relationship while providing the excitement and variety of new encounters. And these affairs will actually act to strengthen the permanent relationship since they act as an outlet. They provide the variety that humans’ natural non-monogamy requires so that people can sustain the long-term “monogamous” relationship without feeling the need to leave permanently (i.e., divorce).
BIGAMY: For the purposes of this answer, I will define bigamy as one person being married to two other people (e.g., a heterosexual man married to two heterosexual women) or three people all being married to each other (e.g., a heterosexual man married to two bi-sexual women who are married to each other as well). The benefit of this structure is that the variety provided to one or more partners can, as with a polyamorous relationship, help sustain the permanent bonding structure. It may not be as varied as polyamory, but it still may be enough variety for some people to help them sustain a long-lasting relationship. Additionally, each partner can fulfill roles and needs that one of the other partners cannot or does not want to.
Take a hypothetical situation in which a wife loves to shop and the husband hates to. In a traditional marriage, one of the partners is going to be put in an unsatisfactory situation (the husband will have to go shopping with the wife, or the wife will have to shop alone). However, in a bigamous marriage, the two wives can go shopping together (permitted they both like shopping) and the man can go do something he would rather do. Also, bigamy permits a family that has both a dual-income AND a stay-at-home parent structure.
POLYGAMY: For the purposes of this answer, I will define polygamy as one person married to three or more people (e.g., a heterosexual man married to five heterosexual women). Put simply, polygamy should continue to be permanently outlawed. Once a “marriage” has extended beyond three people in total, the motivations for bonding are no longer rooted in love and/or wanting to create a healthy family structure. Instead it becomes solely about the power. Why exactly that is the case is probably the topic of a different post, but history has born out the fact that once a man takes a large number of wives, the situation devolves into a cult-like territorial atmosphere in which the patriarch’s goal is to exercise extreme control over the clan, increase the size of the clan, and possibly confront other clans.
An important note. I’m not saying that there are not downsides to polyamory or bigamy. There absolutely are. Negative forces such as jealousy, complicated logistics, and initial societal taboos will most definitely exist. However, over time, as people acclimate to these new structures, they would learn how to deal with them just as monogamous people learn to deal with the issues that come along with a traditional marriage. On that note, it’s not as if monogamy doesn’t have it’s own issues (50%+ divorce rates, unhappiness, non-consenting affairs). So the point is not to find the perfect solution for everyone. The point is to make a number of viable social constructs available in our society so that each person can pick the one that best suits their disposition in order to maximize the odds of a successful (i.e., permanent) relationship.
If I had to guess what the best societal distribution of the three viable relationship structures is (and this is based on absolutely nothing but a gut feel), I would say: + 20% of relationships should be monogamous + 70% should be polyamorous + 10% should be bigamous
Conservatives are idiots. Liberals are idiots. Centrists are idiots. If your ideology doesn’t span the entire political spectrum, you’re not thinking.
Anyone who subscribes to a broad ideology is, by definition, not enlightened. The enlightened stance is the one that simply seeks the correct answers in order to arrive at the optimal solution. Given that the world is a complex place, it is highly unlikely that a homogenous position such as “social liberal” or “fiscal conservative” would enable a citizen to arrive at the correct conclusion the majority of the time.
So the most enlightened stance is the one that embraces radical, liberal, centrist, conservative, and reactionary positions. Only with the ability to employ and accept positions from across the entire political spectrum can someone arrive at the right answers and therefore claim enlightenment.
There are three things needed for a single mass shooting, and there is one additional item needed for “so many mass shootings.”
For a single mass shooting you need (i) a mentally unstable person (or people), (ii) a location where a sizable number of people congregate, and (iii) relatively easy access to automatic or semi-automatic guns. (i) and (ii) can never disappear from our society, and it is unlikely that (iii) will change as we would need a constitutional amendment or a supreme court ruling with a different interpretation of the Second Amendment. As a result, there will always be a risk of a single mass shooting.
However, there is a distinct fourth factor that has led to the proliferation of mass shootings over the last 20 years - the media. Although it may seem trite to blame the media once again for a societal ill, in this case the media and it’s insatiable 24/7 news cycle have caused the “many” mass shootings that have occurred in the U.S. and perhaps the world. It is inevitable that a mass shooting would occur at some point in our history given points (i), (ii), and (iii). However, these would have been the brainchild of a single madman who’s evil idea would have stayed isolated to the town in which the slayings were committed.
But thanks to the media’s non-stop nationwide coverage of a given mass shooting (Columbine, for example), they firmly implant and glorify the idea in the heads of many mentally disturbed people throughout the U.S. Historically, these mentally unbalanced people would have simply hated life and killed themselves. Limiting the tragedy to a single individual. However, the media has now shown them a “more satisfying” way to leave this world. Before you take your own life, take those of the ones who made you feel this way (invariably there is collateral damage in the form of people who never interacted with the killer but get shot anyway).
Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do since the media has already propagated this mass killing idea throughout our society. However, the media makes it worse every time they incessantly cover these incidents (Aurora, CO), since they give renewed life to this concept and reenergize a base of sickos. So it won’t be long (18 months) until the next mass shooting.
Every once in a while there are questions on Quora I feel compelled to answer. In some of those instances, I’ll post the question and my response here. Here’s one from the other day.
Quora Question: Why does my mom always worry about me?
Why I Answered: All of the answers were very touchy feely like “because she loves you”, but none of them really hit on the true root cause, in my opinion. Below is the answer I posted.
As poetic and touching as some of these answers are, none of them are correct. If “she loves you” was correct, then you would have the same experience with your dad since he loves you too. Or if “you’re always her little boy” was correct, then, again, you would have the same experience with your dad since you’re his little boy too. Yet there is clearly a distinct way in which mothers worry and express this worry (relative to fathers), which is why this question is even being asked.
As sterile as it may be, the truth lies in chemistry and evolution. Your mom worries about you because she has more estrogen and less testosterone than your father, and there is an evolutionary advantage for her to worry.
ESTROGEN V. TESTOSTERONE
Although there are many chemicals at play in the human body that drive behavioral differences between men and women, for the sake of brevity I will focus on two of the most impactful chemicals that separate men and women - testosterone and estrogen. Although, our moms and dads both have testosterone and estrogen in their systems, men have more testosterone and women have more estrogen. Among other characteristics, Testosterone drives risk taking, aggression and social isolationism in men. Whereas with women, Estrogen (as well as the lower levels of Testosterone) deemphasizes risk taking and isolationism in favor of community building, empathy, and nurturing, part of which is worrying.
Eons of evolution ensured that the children of the most protective (i.e., the most worried) mothers survived to pass on their genes. To illustrate this point in a simplistic manner:
Tens of thousands of years ago there were mothers and fathers. The fathers went out to hunt, and the women stayed back to tend to the homestead and care for the children. Thus it was largely up to the mother to ensure the safety of the children. In these times, which were actually dangerous (wild animals, exposure to the elements, minor injuries leading to fatal infections), the mothers that worried the most typically ended up with the most living children. Those children then went on to worry about their own children, who would then survive to continue to pass on their predisposition for worrying.
The children of those mothers who did not really worry about their safety went on to fall of cliffs, get eaten by tigers, and get lost in forests; thus they did not survive to pass in their mothers’ laid back approach. In short, worrying ensured survival to pass on your genes for worrying.
And this predilection was most important for women to have and to pass down to their daughters because, again, generations ago there was far more of a genetic advantage for women to worry since they were the ones who spent the majority of their time as guardians of the children.
The “worry gene” in men was far less valuable as (1) they were not with the children enough during the day for the worrying to have a protective effect on the children and (2) being worried about their children could distract men from effectively hunting and providing enough food for the family to survive and pass on their genes. So it actually benefited males to stay focused on their specialty and not be distracted by what was going on back in the cave.
So this is not to say that fathers don’t worry. They do. But this worry is either at much lower levels or manifests itself in different ways such that children are not exposed to it in the manner in which they are by their mothers.