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TCS Basics 4

If I parent has "the final say" on all issues, that means all the parent's mistakes are final. They aren't going to be corrected.

Parents often speak of "taking into account" the child's ideas, and then making the final decision in a fair way. What this means is that the parent alters his decision exactly as much as he considers right, and if the child considers that wrong, that's too bad, and if the parent is mistaken that's too bad as well.

I do not advocate replacing the rule of the parent by the rule of the child. I advocate that all disagreements be resolved in such a way that everyone genuinely agrees at the end. Until that happens, they must be considered open questions.

One benefit of this is that it does a child a lot more good to learn why something is best instead of having a misconception about it but following some orders. If the child just follows orders without understanding that isn't educating the child.

Another benefit is that it raises the bar for the quality of ideas the parent needs. Everyone makes mistakes, and this will help the parent make fewer. The bar in a conventional household is: whenever the parents feels upset, feels certain, or finds further questions hard to answer (and therefore frustrating), then he ends the discussion and tells the child he needs to stop the sass and listen.

In fact, some of those situations seem to hint that maybe the parent is wrong. (That doesn't mean the child is right. Often they are both wrong, and some other idea is right.)

Having to persuade the child means having to think about how to explain the issue in an understandable and compelling way. It's OK if the parent wants to take a break as long as he comes back to it later. A real discussion also means answering the child's questions. That helps the child learn; any parent should be happy to answer questions. And for the parent, there are two possibilities. Either answering is easy, so it won't be any trouble. Or answering is hard, which means the parent didn't know the answer well enough, and it's good that he thinks about the issue a bit more.

Elliot Temple on January 30, 2009

Messages (6)

The moon for dinner?

>>> "I do not advocate replacing the rule of the parent by the rule of the child. I advocate that all disagreements be resolved in such a way that everyone genuinely agrees at the end. Until that happens, they must be considered open questions."

My son asks "can we eat the moon for dinner tonight?".

As he is young and uncomprehending about such notions as not being able to acquire the moon due to its size and displacement from us; and as he will not relinquish the idea that we can consume a vast volume of rock, which he claims anyway to be cheese (despite knowing it not to be so) - that not withstanding the widespread destruction of moving such a massive gravitating object - you propose that we starve to death whilst I await his sudden understanding (knowing full well his brain lacks the pathways required to process the knowledge I'm attempting to imbue him with).

Nice idea.


Anonymous at 6:40 PM on May 19, 2009 | #1765 | reply | quote

It seems as if Anonymous’ main points are:

- Children's brains lack the pathways to process some knowledge that adults have.

- Because a child can't understand why it's not possible to eat the moon for dinner, he might refuse to give up the idea and thereby hold the whole family hostage and prevent them from eating.

Since it’s been over ten years, I doubt Anonymous will read this and clarify if I’m correct about these being their main points. And I’m not sure I have super good answers to them. But I wanted to say this much anyway.


Anne B at 3:01 PM on November 7, 2020 | #18576 | reply | quote

Some potential solutions for Anonymous’ situation:

- Different people in the family eat different things for dinner. This might include some of them not eating anything for dinner.

- The child pretends to eat the moon for dinner. Maybe he eats other things too.

- The whole family pretends to eat the moon for dinner. Those who want to do so eat other things too.

- The child eats some cheese cut in the shape of the moon for dinner. He might also eat other things for dinner.

- The family does some internet research on "is the moon made of cheese?" or "can you eat the moon?" or "what is the moon like?" No one goes hungry while this research is done.

- The family discusses a little and realizes they still disagree on whether it’s possible to and whether they want to eat the moon for dinner. They all decide that in light of that unresolved disagreement, they will eat something else that evening and try at some future time to resolve the moon-eating question.


Anne B at 3:03 PM on November 7, 2020 | #18577 | reply | quote

#18576 I think this is close enough. Anon's msg has lots of errors so mb better to say 'intended' points or something. The grammar is problematic at least; I tried making an outline but the errors are large enough to make figuring out precedence hard.

My attempt: As [my son doesn't understand X]; and as [he thinks Y and refuses to admit problems with it even tho he knows it's wrong] - that not withstanding [problems w/ X] - you propose [<false attribution> we starve to death] while I await [my son gaining an understanding [even tho his brain can't handle that]]. I'd summarise & paraphrase #1765 as:

(Note: Anon in #1765 misattributes ideas to curi -- I've kept that attribution in the summary. It's important to mention (for complete context) that this is an error Anon made and doesn't follow from OP.)

> My son asks ___. He doesn't comprehend that you can't acquire something as big as the moon or as far away. He thinks we can eat "vast amounts" of rock. He doesn't want to give up that idea. He claims the rock is cheese. He knows it isn't. Moving the moon would cause widespread destruction. That's a problem with your (curi) argument/post. You (curi) think that I and my family should starve to death before waiting for my son to understand that he can't eat the moon. His brain lacks the pathways for that.

- Aside: I'm reasonably confident that babies start with many more neurons & pathways than adults have. Neurologically the development of those pathways involves both 'tuning' the thresholds at synapses and pruning neurons & pathways. In part it's like sculpting: you start with excess matter and carefully remove stuff until you have something meaningful. It's not like painting where you add stuff. So Anon is factually wrong here.

- Aside analysis: I think Anon has a very poor understanding of TCS and is not even treating curi's post in a favourable light. They're also using fancy writing techniques to attack curi.

#18576

> - The child pretends to eat the moon for dinner. Maybe he eats other things too.

> - The whole family pretends to eat the moon for dinner. Those who want to do so eat other things too.

I don't know if there's a problem with the child pretending some other food is actually the moon, but I am not sure the family pretending would be good -- that sounds like *rule of the child*.

> - The child eats some cheese cut in the shape of the moon for dinner. He might also eat other things for dinner.

This seems better. If Billy (the child) is holding on to the idea of eating the moon, the parent could offer cheese between now and when Billy gets to the moon. Or say that it's very big, and if he wants to eat the whole thing he might want to practise on less cheese first.

> - The family does some internet research on "is the moon made of cheese?" or "can you eat the moon?" or "what is the moon like?" No one goes hungry while this research is done.

Another idea for starting the what-to-research topic: the parent could ask what Billy wants as a side, or how he wants the moon cooked, and then suggest that they handle the cooking side while Billy handles the getting-the-moon side. Billy will obviously run into some problem doing that, which gives a natural point to start researching.

Reflective thoughts:

Both of my answers involve 'playing along' with Billy. Maybe that would be mean/cruel in some situations. I don't think it needs to be, though. As adults we need to do this sometimes to understand what someone is thinking/desiring, or why they're interested in something. I think it would be mean for a parent to be overly scientific with their kids by pointing out lots of problems before the child has a chance to like explore and be curious. The idea of both parent and child being okay with doing something (common preference) doesn't mean that they both have to do it for the same reason.


Max at 12:04 AM on November 8, 2020 | #18578 | reply | quote

> > - The whole family pretends to eat the moon for dinner. Those who want to do so eat other things too.

>

> I don't know if there's a problem with the child pretending some other food is actually the moon, but I am not sure the family pretending would be good -- that sounds like *rule of the child*.

I was picturing everyone being willing to do this pretending. If they are not willing, they shouldn't choose that as a solution.

I was also picturing that everyone would know it was pretend to be eating the moon. It would be like the family deciding together to all pretend to be characters in a tv show. It would be wrong for the family to pretend but try to convince the child that he really was eating the moon, like what people do with Santa Claus.

Another potential pitfall is that a parent could go along with this pretending but do it in a way that's making fun of the child. I can picture parents winking at each other and laughing at the silly things their child believes. That is not good.

Maybe one of these bad ways of doing it is what you mean here?:

> Both of my answers involve 'playing along' with Billy. Maybe that would be mean/cruel in some situations. I don't think it needs to be, though.


Anne B at 2:34 PM on November 10, 2020 | #18609 | reply | quote

> - Aside analysis: I think Anon has a very poor understanding of TCS and is not even treating curi's post in a favourable light. They're also using fancy writing techniques to attack curi.

I agree. My approach was to ignore all that and try to figure out what Anonymous thought would not work about TCS and address that. I don’t know whether and how to address this kind of hostility.


Anne B at 2:14 PM on November 15, 2020 | #18675 | reply | quote

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