Handing Down the Map to Utopia.The young can’t see to the depth we can. They start by mastering step one, their perceptive tools, and move on to identification, grasping the rudimentary cause and effect relationship of existence. They have very modest epistemological chains, while ours are long and brimming with experience. We emit a confidence that often, we aren’t aware of having, though they are. They look up to us, even when we have no conscious reason to expect them to. They figure there is a reason for our every action and trait, and they emulate them as a platform. The nature of our use of perceptive tools, our paceof thought, our depth of reasoning, our interactions with others, are all an example for what is appropriate in life. The majority of what they learn from us is wordless. It is the very pattern of comprehension we pass on to them—our brave, open, controlled response to every step, which in the inertia of its challenges, passes on our psychology as well.
POSITIVE, NEGATIVE, AND RATIONAL REINFORCEMENT
In the first years before a child understands the implications of danger that are found in the word “No,” pleasure and pain are the only means of communication. There is no reasoning with a two-year old. Once bad behavior can be stemmed with cognitive penalties such as no dessert, belting them is no longer appropriate. Unless they initiate rude, violent behavior, no physical reprimand is sensible. The second sociallesson we have the responsibility to convey to our children, is not to try solving problems by force. The first social lesson of course, is never to drop their mind.
You can’t sell a kid on life-furthering issues with threats of death as the alternative, no more than you can sell him caution with the joy of safety. All living things grow towards values and are repelled by evils, whose clear division is seen only with the correct standard of value. Look both ways before crossing the street because you could get hit—not because of the life you would then miss. The first loss or the first gain is the primary focal point, where the balance of the argument are just the details. Harmful action gets a penalty, positive action gets a reward. Spanking and being grounded is the child’s parallel to a few weeks in jail for an adult, to be used as sparingly as he is bad. He is to learn that any injustice on his part will be met with swift recompense—given that the standard of justice is rational. Life isfair when sound action gets rewarded, while no action or failed action does not.
We hear the promise of their futures in the line, “I can do it myself.” True pride is the joy of witnessing one’s own ability to satisfy a requirement of life. We can learn from others, sometimes intense, fabulous things, but as we were perceptive enough to pick up what was important, the glory is ours as well. The Self-made say “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear,” and the teacher can be a person, a documentary, a book, or just the act of observing the natural flow of life. Schooling can come from anywhere, but it must be integrated within an individual’s own mind, an action outside a parent’s power. Under balanced circumstances, a child gone right or wrong is not the parent’s full responsibility; the road to choose is theirs.
As the child’s capacity becomes abstract, we have to sell them on ideas. Enticement is management of an entity by what it loves. It is welcoming what the teacher intends, submitting to a trusted power—a safe acceptance of domination by an apt, charismatic guide. Coercion is management of an entity by what it fears; shields go up, and the entity stays on the defensive, acting only at times of maximum safety, volunteering nothing, offering the least risk possible. Coercion intends not to engage the rational faculty of another for consent, and therefore can make only temporary gains. Outside of emergencies, it is not a tool of the Self-made. Rational enticement is his ultimate form of civil influence, and is the foundation of most American advertising in concept. Explaining and giving reasons shows respect for the process of cognition. It tells them that they are people too, worthy of consideration, and provides the depth necessary to make responsible decisions. The sooner we begin treating them like adults, the sooner they will act like them. Still, we can only do so much; the one in true control is the life being trained. Kids have to buy in at every step.
Our contribution is to bring them our most valuable traits, and to see them fully armed for the world to come. There is natural resistance to life, which we struggle against to stay even and surpass, to gain the results we seek—that of life and fulfillment. Perseverancedescribes the steady actions we take toward the goals of our lives. We must prepare them to endure whatever is necessary to bring about the fulfillment they desire. We synthesize the elements of each attribute for training: our capacity to judge endeavors and overcome great odds, to outlast powerful storms and great spans of time to reach our deepest goals, to exercise the height of independent awareness, to defend sound living principles, to move physically and intellectually with healthy, fluid grace, to stand on the shoulders of our achievements and shoot even higher.