Child rearing and international relations

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This morning, Emily, our three year old girl, yelled for Mommy from her room. She was in her high chair eating breakfast and watching cartoons. Since my wife was busy preparing the Thanksgiving turkey, I got up, knowing that Emily finished eating and wanted to get down from the chair. Emily looked at me and stated–with a slight scowl on her face: “I want down!” Now, since I believe in manners, I asked her what goes along with any request. She knows that she needs to say please, but at this moment, she decided that she was going to test my resolve. Emily’s face grew into a pout and she folded her arms. She was going to stand her ground. I told her that when she could come up with the right word, she could get down.

Nope. Emily was going to win. The problem is, I’ve found with children that it’s a very bad idea to let them win when you’re right. And it isn’t very often that an adult is not the one in the right when it comes to three year olds. So I left the room, reminding her that when she really wanted to get down, she’d just say the magic word. A few minutes passed and I poked my head in. Anything? Nope, still the pouty look that works with some people. Some people would have been guilted right into giving in. But the more you give in with children, the more wars you’ll have to fight in the future, even though capitulating can end the current battle. As George Orwell once said: “The quickest way to end a war is to lose it.” But then you’ve suddenly empowered a three year old beyond reason, and we all know why the world is not run by three year olds.

Finally I walked into the room again. I asked her if she was going to say please. About 5 minutes had passed since the little insurrection began. She stared at the television as if I hadn’t even spoken to her. Ok–I thought, time to increase the pressure. A little more firepower may be in order. I walked over to the television and shut it off, then started out the door of the room.

“Daddy!” I turned to see a distinctly changed visage. Contrite and polite. 

“I said I wanted to get down.”

I asked what word accompanied her request. “Please” she said. The war was over. If I’d given in, it may have been months of future battles before Emily forgot the lesson she’d learned; that if she can hold out and pout and refuse to cooperate, she can get what she wants.

Make playing nice the only option

 For several years now I’ve rolled the idea around in my mind that one could do exceptionally well in the world of international politics if, as a national leader, a person merely dealt with other nations as one would deal with a child. Now I know this sounds offensive on its surface, but in reality, I’m just using this as a mental guide that someone could refer to when the question arose on how America should react in particularly sticky situations abroad. Kind of like the recent North Korean attack on the South, in an apparent attempt to force the US to the negotiating table in regards to sanctions.

Now I know that not every nation is like a child, but I believe that humanity as a mass organism can be handled just like children. There are some that simply do not understand this, and so have empowered and enabled decades of violence. These people are the single moms of the world. Jimmy Carter is an exasperated single mom. Mr. Carter thinks that if he keeps giving the kicking, screaming three year old candy bars and cookies, keeps letting them stay up until midnight, and never ever makes the child uncomfortable for bad behavior, than the bad behavior will go away. Because that’s how rational adults act, right? But this isn’t a rational adult. The child doesn’t play by rules just because it’s the right thing to do. The child wants to push the envelope, find out what his limits are, get as much as it can.

Well Mr. Carter’s at it again. After decades of blaming the West and Israel for getting bombed by terrorists, he’s now telling us we should immediately go to the negotiating table with North Korea as a result of the recent attacks on the South. So lets train the child by letting him know that his unacceptable actions work. That hitting mommy and daddy gets you things. That throwing temper tantrums gets you cookies and candy. Mr. Carter ignores basically ignores the actions that got Korea into its current predicament. The fact that Kim Jong Il has repeatedly violated various rules in regards to its nuclear weapons program. He cites in his article that for 8 years, the West sent North Korea fuel oil under an agreement brokered by Carter under the Clinton administration, but then states that North Korea violated the agreement and so came under more sanctions. Does he not see the pattern here? Throw temper tantrum. Get stuff. Agree to new rules. Violate rules. Lose stuff. Throw temper tantrum. Get stuff. Rinse, wash, repeat.

Carter doesn’t want to be a parent. Not a real parent. He wants to fake it, and act like a good friend. In essense, it’s parenting “on the cheap”. It’s done by a parent who wants to pat themselves on the back for being tolerant, and who can’t stand the twinge of discomfort they themselves momentarily feel for doing the job they suspect that they should do. It comes with the easy-fix world we’ve come to live in.  Meanwhile, they’re enabling the child to become someone few can tolerate, not even the parent themselves. But no parent who’s doing their job is only friends with their child. Sometimes the hammer must fall. Sometimes a spanking is in order. And sometimes countries like North Korea should be told to go to their room and shut the door so their temper tantrum has no audience.

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One thought on “Child rearing and international relations

    Royce said:
    November 25, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    I did get a laugh out of your “war”. As a dad and granddad — not that you need any reassuring — but you handled that situation perfectly. In our house we went through the great Green Bean War and the Great Mashed Potato War — not surprisingly with the same tactics and results. I know have three highly successful children and grandchildren. Establishing authority is crucial for the future and benefit of the children.

    Relative to children and international relations — I think you have something. Perhaps you should move from soldier to diplomat. LOL

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