Raising kids [was Re: Freedom or death? ]

Dan Clemmensen (Dan@Clemmensen.ShireNet.com)
Wed, 13 Aug 1997 22:28:21 -0400

Darren Reynolds wrote:
[SNIP about raising kids]
> As someone who will have to begin making these decisions in the very near
> future, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

The biggest lesson I have learned while raising kids is that adults
consistently underestimate kid's intelligence and overestimate
their knowledge. I think the reason we do this is that we believe
we are using logic and intelligence in many situations in which
we are actually using memory of past events. Thus when a kid does
something with an unexpected consequence, we think "stupid kid!
Why didn't you infer the consequence!" instead of thinking
"ignorant kid! Why didn't you have experience of this consequence!"
(Aside: please examine our responses to Danny in this light.)

I apply this bit of hard-earned experience as follows: when a
kid does something "stupid", explain why the action is not
optimal. Don't just say NO!, and don't just lay down a set of
rules without reasons. Where possible, teach a lesson as you
would like to be taught yourself, with examples and visual
aids, not just words. My 14-year-old reminded me of an incident
that happened when she was four. She threw a sharp object at
her younger sister. Apparently, I saw this and first spoke
sharply to her (safety first: I DO yell at kids when there is
imminent danger.) I then explained that the knife could
seriously damage the sister, and asked her to predict what the
knife might do. she wasn't sure, so I used the knife to stab
through a piece of cardboard, and asked her to make a prediction
about the possible effect on her sister. Apparently, she really
got it that time.

What is the effect of this on the future of humanity? well, if
we often use experience instead of inference, we may want to
do two things: First, we may want to figure out how to apply
inference to more of our actions, or we may want to make
our experience more effective, as we extend our mentation
using computers. To do this effectively, we need to be more
aware of what we are actually doing when we react to a
situation in every-day life.