Basic Orientation
Book1: R-E Living & "Homo Rationalis"
Book2: Humanianity
Book3: Mind-Body Problem
Book4: (Future Possible Development)
Child Rearing Issues
Philosophico-Religious Issues
Psycho-Socio-Cultural Issues
The Twelve Articles
01 Our Future
02 Difference of Opinion
03 Our Anger
04 Punishing Children
05 Child Rearing
06 Our Biggest Problem
07 Evils of Justice
08 Cultural Victimization
09 Rational-Ethical Religion
10 Rational-Ethical Government
11 Global Human Zoo
12 "Homo Rationalis" Wants YOU
Relevant Autobiography
 
"HOMO RATIONALIS" AND HUMANIANITY
 
HELPING TO PROMOTE OUR THIRD EXPONENTIAL CHANGE
 

4. PUNISHING CHILDREN



In this fourth of 12 monthly articles, I continue my vision of our species as only a toddler, compared to its ultimate maturation, which I label metaphorically "Homo rationalis." In past articles (available with the free "textbook" at HomoRationalis.com), I spoke of our third exponential change, from authoritarian ethics (we should obey the most powerful) to rational ethics, that we should do whatever will promote not only our survival, but also the good life for everyone, now and in the future. The "good life" means maximizing joy, contentment, and appreciation, while minimizing pain, suffering, disability, and early death (PSDED).


The first two exponential changes have made us wonderful talking, high-tech "chimpanzees," but also very angry ones, therefore causing enormous PSDED. Why are we so angry?


Chimpanzee offspring naturally tend to do what fits in with their environment. We, however, must through our "child rearing" change greatly our children’s natural behavior. "Child rearing" is whatever parenting figures do to foster the child’s development of skills, wisdom, and ethical values, so as to optimize the child’s current and future quality of life and the child’s ultimate value to his or her society.


Which is the most complicated task, driving, practicing medicine, or child rearing? Which is the most important? The more complicated and important the task, the more important is proper education, training, and licensing, right? "No!" we say, "Child rearing comes naturally." So to do it, we need not study, be trained, and be found competent. It is anyone’s right to create a human adult, who may do wonderful things for others, or leave a trail of anguish, blood, scars, and death.


"Homo rationalis" will say otherwise. They will require mastery of a model of child-rearing quite different from our naturally occurring one.


All child-rearing involves punishment, reward, teaching, and modeling for identification. Punishment is anything done to make the child feel bad because of "disobedience." Formal punishment includes spanking, standing in the corner, grounding, and even "time out." Informal punishment is scolding, shaming, threatening, shaking the finger at, etc., and is always much more frequent.


We believe all children need to be punished, to prevent them from running wild.


But "Homo rationalis" will use the rational-ethical model, according to which "disobedience" is redefined as the making of mistakes (acts with bad outcomes), and is considered a technical problem in child rearing, requiring highly skilled reward, teaching, and modeling for identification, but avoidance of punishment absolutely as much as possible. Why?


If you were asked to raise identical twin puppies, one to become affectionate and the other to become vicious, you would know exactly how to do so.


Punishment causes low self-esteem, demoralization, fear, and anger. As chronic anger (buildup of anger-containing memories) increases, some children become more likely to be cruel (toward self or others), destructive, and rebellious (overtly defiant, passive-aggressive, and/or sneaky), and prone to continue that way into adulthood. And escalating cycles of punishment and rebellion sometimes make the newspapers. Other children become submissive, unassertive, prone to self-hatred, and terrified even as adults of making a mistake (or admitting one). Angry, cruel children bully others, producing even more anger, fear, low self-esteem, and even paranoia. Punishing into submission sets the model ("I knew the day I became a man—the day I beat up my father").


But we do believe in punishment! The child, already feeling bad, must be made to feel even worse. Otherwise the child will not learn. The child may even be asked to choose the punishment, thus promoting self-punitive tendencies. Guiltily we avoid the word, speaking of "disciplining" or "consequencing" or "teaching respect." But punishment there must be.


If only punishment worked. By now, our species certainly would be free of most bad behavior. Unless of course most bad behavior is actually due to punishment. We are a very punished and angry species, vengefully producing ever more PSDED. Some have suggested that we be more understanding, forgiving, and benevolent, but their words have generally been disregarded as idealistic and irrelevant. Outrage, punishment, revenge, perhaps frank paranoia are preferred. Best to identify our enemies and band together against them, so much easier if we avoid empathizing with them. Therefore, do not talk with and listen to them. Avoid, shun, cast out, subjugate, and if necessary kill. Good for individuals and nations.


But do we think life without outrage, punishment, revenge, and large amounts of PSDED would be too boring? Maybe so. "Homo rationalis" will be almost like a different species.


To be continued….