2010-05-24

children

I’ll never have children, and that’s a good thing, I have no doubt. I cannot imagine speaking child-talk to a child, cannot envision a mentality that is not impatient to be adult and that does not already conceive of itself as adult. But I can observe. I guess I’m deeply offended by the Western modality of child-rearing. It is based on giving unlimited and unstinting attention to the child, the way you would to a spoiled puppy. The effects on the puppy are clear: it grows spoiled, it grows infinitely demanding, it grows into a major pain. And this is neither desirable nor particularly useful behaviour for a dog, let alone for human. But for children, here in the West, it is seen as precisely that: normal and desirable. It is seen, or at least it must be, for so many parents seem to want this, that young children are demanding of attention, self-seeking and selfish, and placated only by treats.

But go elsewhere, to traditional environments, where families are extended, where villages raise the child, where he and she has companions and multiple parents. You seldom see there bad, spoiled behaviour, you seldom will see crying, whining, demanding annoyances. You will likely see well-behaved and polite children who make happy and nondestructive sounds. And when you do see spoiled behaviour, it’s likely due to nuclear parents raising their children amid violence and ill-temper as they themselves accommodate to Western modalities of familial atomization.

Mind, this is not an attack on small children or a commentary on the families possessed of small children that seemingly surround us here in Toronto and which interrupt the simplest thoughts. It is rather an observation: That I consider now, as I always have, that the Western child is spoiled and that the parents’ institutional insistence on producing a child with demands that must be satisfied is wrong.

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