8 December 2013

not being good

I don't want my children to be 'good'. I never tell them they're a good boy or girl. They certainly hear about it when they're kind, generous, imaginative, thoughtful etc, though.

What people often mean when they say a child is being good is that he or she is obeying an authority figure. Sometimes that is the right thing to do, and sometimes it's not.

I think what we really want our children to learn to do is the right thing. After all, did Nelson Mandela live his life being a good boy? To many people he was a terrorist!

The Nazis were being good boys doing what Hitler told them to. Throughout history there must have been millions of times when terrible things were done in obedience to authority. Those people needed to do the right thing, not be obedient.

We only have 15 years or so to teach each child what the right thing is in a multitude of different circumstances. So when I tell my children what to do, I always explain why, even though it takes extra energy to do so. I'm not always going to be there, so they need to know the reasons behind the choices available, rather than blindly obeying.

I don't trust whoever might be doing the telling when I'm not there. Which one day will be pretty much all of the time.

(What 'right' things are today's terrorists trying to do? Oh, people are complicated, aren't we?)

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