Sunday, November 11, 2012

post Father Declaiming - Child Rearing Theory

In American Gods by Neil Gaiman, one of the characters notices that another character is declaiming (insert quote here)

My Father was like that.  He spent a great deal of time calming himself down, closing himself off from the irritations of the world, and ruminating over big things.  He ruminated over how to live a proper life.  And he ruminated over how to raise children properly.

I'm sure he and Mom talked about how to deal with us, but we never heard a peep of it.  They believed, among other things, in showing a united front.  I guess a front isn't united if the kids ever hear you weighing possibilities.  Give a child the idea of possibilities and they will use it to argue for what they want to do or have.

So my parents had their theories on child rearing and Dad at least had put a lot of thought into the matter.  And being a Pontificator, being a person whose only comfortable form of conversation was lecturing, he explained to us why he was doing what he was doing often and at some length.

Some of the rules were well and good.  A united front meant that a child couldn't play one parent against another.  A standard procedure of saying no to all requests isn't necessarily bad.  We knew that they wouldn't ever buy anything for us unless they had discussed it and planned it ahead of time.  That gave us no practice at asking for things, but it cut down on whining, which even as kids we understood was a bad thing.

The stifling thing was knowing that if you said anything that implied that you did not agree with their rules and decisions, you were not just wrong, or being inconvenient, you were attacking the thing that he had put the most thought and effort into in his life. You were calling him a failure and undermining his sense of identity. You were destroying his one success and leaving him nothing but memories of abuse and denigration.

For he did love us and did put effort into looking after us.  Like most parents, though, he was mostly giving us the things that he thought he had needed growing up and we weren't him.  

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