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Parenting is very demanding yet endlessly rewarding. Roslyn Ross says in one of her blogs, “parenting today is the hardest job we’ll ever love”. But although it is challenging it is perhaps one of the greatest opportunities for personal growth alongside the growth of the children. This is because if we are fully engaged in the task we are often compelled to revise our own acquired knowledge and previous assumptions.
In this Episode of “Living outside the matrix” Roslyn Ross shares her theory of Objectivist parenting and gets right to the fundamentals of our relationship with our children. With a similar approach to Dayna Martin and radical unschooling, it is a whole new paradigm shift away from the conventional method. Most parenting is behaviourist and authoritarian to a varying degree. Roslyn advocates mutual respect and relinquishing the need or desirability of control. She eloquently presents a compelling case.
Behaviourism aims to control behaviour by rewarding the desired action and punishing the undesired, essentially harnessing the pain-pleasure spectrum to influence choices. It assumes that all behaviors are either reflexes produced by a response to certain stimuli in the environment or are a consequence of that individual’s history. Most of all behaviourism seeks to control behaviour and is a form of training similar to that used on animals.
Education is an on-going and self-generated process of acquiring first cognitive means to gain knowledge, and then ever more knowledge, so as to thrive. It is the process of acquiring knowledge for the purpose of a life Earth.
According to Wikipedia “parenting (or child rearing) is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. Parenting refers to the aspects of raising a child aside from the biological relationship.”
I would add that parenting has to be about adequately preparing young people for life by enabling their functional literacy. This means, becoming fully able to live a life and take responsibility for one’s self, to be competent to maintain health, run a home and run a corporation if desired, to manage relationships effectively and to learn and develop ones dreams and achieve happiness.
Conventional styles of parenting
According to Roslyn Ross, most conventional styles of parenting are behaviourist in nature. The object is to get the child to conform to some desired behaviour through the main technique of reward and punishment. These styles focus on getting children to do what we want them to do. Ross questions this fundamental assumption.
The Objectivist theory suggests mutual respect. Similar to Dayna Martin and her partnership parenting model that we discussed in episode 20 of “Living outside the Matrix”, Roslyn Ross emphasizes the rational approach and questioned the need for control from a philosophical perspective. She identifies the controlling aspect as behaviourism (defined above).
Topics covered by Roslyn in the interview
Roslyn explains the problems with behaviourism and gives many examples of how the parent operating with mutual respect would handle various typical situations.
The website ‘simplypsychology.org’ has a page on behaviourism saying “There is little difference between the learning that takes place in humans and that in other animals.” This is at best misleading and incomplete. Yes humans can learn by stimulus and response, but we also learn conceptually as well. Indeed it is the conceptual faculty that separates and distinguishes man from the animals.
Behaviourism tends to shift the focus of the childs learning from being reality focused to being people focused as the goal becomes pleasing the controller/parent/teacher as opposed to figuring out what is true and what is real.
Roslyn also offers us insights about intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation and the reasons why being motivated intrinsically and pursuing our own self-initiated goals is an essential component of happiness.
My additional thoughts on parenting
The most important and all-encompassing principle for parenting (as with any aspect of living a life on earth) is rationality. Under this broad umbrella, The method involves 4 principles.
- Reason: Reason with your children. Bother to explain is as much detail is appropriate. Tell them your motives, share the principles you are living byIf necessary demonstrate finding out about something when you don’t know the answer to a question.
- Demonstration: This is the bulk of what parenting is – showing young ones how to live by example.
- Trusting: We must trust children to make their own choices and to practice what they learn as they learn. having an early vote of confidence does wonders for an individuals sense of self-efficacy.
- Acknowledgement: This is really the second half of paying attention. After we have given appropriate attention to something in our children’s experience if we then acknowledge it, their achievement or their pain, this helps build a firm relationship of trust, connection and shared experience.
What should we demonstrate?
Broadly speaking we must demonstrate rational behaviour. Everything else listed below comes unde rthis broad heading. Since being rational is mans primary virtue and his means of survival because it is our means of identifying reality, it is therefore the most important habit or way of being that children must adopt. Every time we interact with another human being infront of our children we must be rational. This is why parenting is potentially such a powerful tool for personal growth. Under the banner of reason the points below are the main concepts to demonstrate.
- Benevolent Universe Premise: That the world is not fundamentally set against us, that things are what they are and we can make the best of it. Great things happen as well as accidents!
- That reality is knowable: You can understand and know the cause and effect nature of the world. There is a point to thinking, it is very much worth it. Yes, you can acquire knowledge.
- Respect for rights: We demonstrate this (or not) through our behaviour to our children and towards others in front of our children. It requires us to know what individual rights are and how to express recognition of them.
- Respect for property: Allowing ownership of possessions is essential. Some are overly concerned about materialism, and this is unfortunate. Things are important and being able to say “Its mine” is very important. There can be no giving or trade before ownership.
- The non-aggression principle: For a parent to have any chance of demonstrating this one they need to first recognise that coercion has no place in human interactions. We need to fully adopt this principle intellectually and then consciously implement it into the way we deal with ALL other humans including the little ones we temporarily call children.
Resources for parents
“A theory of objectivist parenting” by Roslyn Ross is the book that explains in detail much of the information that she shared in the interview.
Here are some other books But also check out the grandfather of new thinking with regards to education, John Holt. And also John Taylor Gatto’s groundbreaking work in ‘dumbing us down’ and weapons of mass instruction. These are indispensable resources for the thinking parent.
- How children learn – John Holt
- Teach your own – The John Holt Book of Homeschooling
- Learning all the time – John Holt
- Dumbing us down – John Taylor Gatto
- Weapons of mass instruction – John Taylor Gatto
- “Pelle’s new suit” by Elsa Beskow is recommended by Roslyn Ross
- “Remotely controlled: how television is damaging our lives” by Aric Sigman
Also, you can listen to the previous discussion of ‘Home Education’ with Kim Mcfadden at the beginning of this podcast season by following the links below.
I sincerely hope you have gained some insight here or enjoyed this post. Please join in the conversation and feel free to leave a comment.
Treehouse Farm, March 2018
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