Friday, November 5, 2010

Accepting that good parents may plant bad seeds.

Okay, this article kind of worried me:

"We marvel at the resilient child who survives the most toxic parents and home environment and goes on to a life of success. Yet the converse — the notion that some children might be the bad seeds of more or less decent parents — is hard to take.
It goes against the grain not just because it seems like such a grim and pessimistic judgment, but because it violates a prevailing social belief that people have a nearly limitless potential for change and self-improvement. After all, we are the culture of Baby Einstein, the video product that promised — and spectacularly failed — to make geniuses of all our infants.
Not everyone is going to turn out to be brilliant — any more than everyone will turn out nice and loving. And that is not necessarily because of parental failure or an impoverished environment. It is because everyday character traits, like all human behavior, have hard-wired and genetic components that cannot be molded entirely by the best environment, let alone the best psychotherapists. "

(full article found here: )

If you take the conclusions drawn from this persons argument to the furtherest possible conclusion, why do we discipline at all? Why try to mould our kids when nature will ultimately determine whether they are polite or rude, selfish or giving?

I think I sit somewhere in the middle in this continuum.

In regards to discipline, I believe I am Ava's teacher. I facilitate her experiences in this world and provide them with a little context as well as my interpretation. Every action and experience with me elicits a response from me. Boogies = Not good. Please and Thankyou = Good. Dropping your dacks at the shops = Not good (but funny.) Yes, they may be social constructs, but social graces serve one very important function; they serve as a measuring stick in relationships. Burping and farting in front of your husband? Acceptable. Burping and farting on the first date? Not so.

Social graces are important for relationships, and that brings me to my other important task as a parent. Relationships are at the core of parenting. Teaching you child how to love , how to be a friend, how to hold polite conversation, how to deal with hurt and rejection, and how to pick up and keep going when all your want to do is curl up in a ball.

Now, to smacks. Every single time I have smacked Ava, it has been because I have been overwhelmed and angry. It has also NEVER improved the situation. Not once has Ava done the right thing after a smack, it usually makes everything worse. Smacking, for Ava, does nothing but make everything worse and make me feel like the worst parent in the world. Time out, yes. Time in, yes, smacking, no. Everyone will have their own opinion on this one, but in my opinion, it does nothing.

But, back to the article; I guess, despite my best intentions, that Ava will grow up into the person she is, shaped and supported by my love and friendship, and guided by what I know of this world. If she knows who she is and what she stands for, and can love someone wih her whole heart, I will be a proud Mummy.


  1. The article you quote is paraphrased and being from Gen X I cant focus long enough to read the whole thing (or maybe its just coz Im at work and need to prioritize my time) but the implication that some behaviour is hardwired or genetic and therefore beyond reproach from environmental factors I find simplistic bordering on false. A lot of "personality" or "behaviour" that becomes set or hardwired is made that way through interaction with environment in periods of growth or imprintability or from massive shock/upheaval new info overload to the system. So while some traits may develop that are contrary to the ones being "coached" for a child surrounded by happiness and love is much more likely to grow to be happy and loving. I Dont need to read through any tedious studies to know that is true.

    As to farting on the 1st date, that depends on your definition of success. If you think u may want a 2nd date, then No. If its been discovered he/she/it is a cro magnon, bombs away!!!!

    Overily Productions

  2. I think that is why I reposted it with my own opinions on discpline, and where the line is drawn between learning self-governance and learning through fear of retribution (which promotes the attitude that it is only wrong if someone catches you.)

    It didn't sit perfectly with me either, because I know that relationships are the core of a successful adult life, and relationship skills are something that are learnt, not hardwired....ask anyone who has a child with austism spectrum disorder.

    As I said, I think I sit somewhere in the middle. That may change as my daughter ages, I may turn into hilter-mummy at the first mention of boyfriends!