Toddler questions (about using unusual words and talking about obligations)

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Toddler questions (about using unusual words and talking about obligations)

Postby Yessica » 25 Jun 2015, 09:34

I have a few questions for the other parents.

1. I noticed that I often sound like a little teacher when talking about a book with my toddler, like "Can you tell my where the shepard is? And where is the poodle?" and I got some negative reactions because he knows too much about some special fields, mostly dogs, horses, pirates and knights.

So he says "Look at the Rottweiler" instead of "Look at the doggy" and I can see from some other people's reactions and comments that they think he is gifted or I am a pushy mum. It is not the case, he just has a lot of relatives who are dog persons and like I said I used his books to teach him a thing or two... but I know that many people out there don't know much about dogs.

As a child I felt embarrassed to know words the people I talk to did not know or to have experiences he did not have. I don't want this to happen to him.

What would you do if you noticed your toddler knew very much about a special field? Would you encourage it or try to stop him?

2. I use reading time to teach my son "moral lessons". He is into pirates and medival knights. I use this to talk with him about certain obligations he has and certain qualities I want to encourage, like protecting the weak, treating women with respect, being selfless and fearless. Needless to say I sanitize history a bit when I do this.

I use this in his everyday life. I tell him that the pirates never where afraid of the dark. I did when he tried to shove girls or take things from them. I told him that as a boy he had certain obligations like the medival knights did.

I ended up with a toddler of not yet three who knows the meaning of the word obligation.

When I think about this I noticed that the talk I give him is similar to the talk I received about white middle class privilege. In his case: add male privilege to that.

I see it in my brothers that this kind of talk does not lead to only good results. It adds to white male middle class guilt. I think it is unfortunate that one of the first things he learns about being male is that he has obligations.
My husband is quite okay with this. Well, he thinks being male is about obligations (of course only if you are a responsible male, not if you are a drunk chav but a chav is no real man for him).


How do you think? Do you think I should act less as a teacher and more as a "buddy"?
What can I do to give him more positive ideas about manliness? There is hardly anything a man can do but a woman cannot anymore.
Yessica
 
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Re: Toddler questions (about using unusual words and talking about obligations)

Postby Mike » 25 Jun 2015, 12:21

I can't speak for boys because I have a daughter, but for us reading with her at that age was primarily meant to be fun, to give her a sense of the joy of reading. We tried to save the moral lessons for her own interactions with other kids.

As she got to age four or so, we started to be a little more teacher-ish, getting her to point out individual letters and letter-sound connections, etc.

Anyway, I wouldn't worry about your son having specialised knowledge in a particular field unless he can't help airing it at every opportunity!

Re your Point 2, we've never given our daughter the idea that she's privileged by virtue of being a white person, and I'd be very angry at any teacher who tried to do that. What we have told her is that we're lucky to live where we do, to have the level of wealth we have, etc., and simply to remember that not everyone is so fortunate. But to my mind that's a long way from the horrible "Check your privilege" refrain, which basically seems to imply that one's opinions on various topics lose their validity due to a certain social status, which is nonsense.

I'm sure we all make all sorts of mistakes bringing up our kids. My wife and I are just rule-of-thumbing it, so to speak, doing the best we can.
Mike
 
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Re: Toddler questions (about using unusual words and talking about obligations)

Postby Jonathan » 25 Jun 2015, 20:02

It sounds very good to me, Yessica. I'm not sure what you're worried about.

He likes dogs and can tell the breeds apart, and knows the names for them? That's great. It will encourage precision of thought and of expression. It also teaches that it can be fun to take a topic you like and learn more about it.

I took my eldest son out stargazing with binoculars a week ago, and now he wants to do it every night. If he starts saying the names of the planets to other grown-ups I will only be proud of him.

I must confess it never occurred to me to be embarrassed about knowing too much, or worried that my children might seem that way to others. It might be a cultural difference.

I always thought reading time was the perfect time to teach moral lessons. The gingerbread man was too proud. The wolf was wicked. The troll was greedy. The big billy goat gruff helped his brothers. The best stories have good morals. The Cat in the Hat teaches about temptation (to play and make a mess) and duty (to clean up afterwards). Horton Hatches the Egg teaches about laziness and working hard and keeping promises. An interest in Knights and Pirates is a great opportunity to stress their virtues (Chivalry and Bravery) while, of course, hiding their sins (Pride, Thievery).

To teach him to be dutiful and kind to others - as fellow human beings - is very different from teaching him to humble himself towards foreigners because he is white.

A few more thoughts.

I always think about being a father, never about being a buddy. Being a father is not quite like being a teacher. A father teaches first and foremost by example. Showing how, and explaining why, always come second. Right and Wrong, how to speak, , how to think, how to behave - these come first. How to read, count, kick a soccer ball - second.

I think that a boy's conception of manliness will be affected much more by the environment he lives in, than by the stories he reads or what his mother tells him.
The best thing a mother can do to teach him about manliness is to choose a good father :)
Given that that choice has already been made, I would say to live in a town/neighborhood where most other families have fathers who behave well and raise their children properly, so he will have other examples to follow.
Given that where you live is often decided by other considerations, I would say that how you treat your husband in front of your children will also have a big effect. This is also not so easy to control, especially if an argument has been brewing all day. But if he sees his father treated with contempt every day, he will learn the wrong lesson.

It's always nice to hear from you, Yessica. I hope your children are giving you as much pleasure as mine are giving me.
Jonathan
 
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Re: Toddler questions (about using unusual words and talking about obligations)

Postby Yessica » 26 Jun 2015, 07:38

Thank you!

@ Mike:
My wife and I are just rule-of-thumbing it, so to speak, doing the best we can.


Us too.

Re your Point 2, we've never given our daughter the idea that she's privileged by virtue of being a white person, and I'd be very angry at any teacher who tried to do that. What we have told her is that we're lucky to live where we do, to have the level of wealth we have, etc., and simply to remember that not everyone is so fortunate.


I do not like the word "privilege". It implies that the person has rights another person does not have. If a person lives in a society where only people of a certain class or skind complexion may do certain things (hunt big game, learn to read, wear certain clothes or work certain jobs) you can say that they are privileged.
I will never teach my sons that they are privileged. They are not. They have exactly the same rights everybody else in our country has.
Obligations and a lucky birth differ from privileges to my mind.

The person who has no obligations towards anybody is a chav and for sure I don't want our son to grow up to be a chav but then when I think of the opposite end of the continuum - the guiltridden liberal - it's not much better.

We went to church on Sunday. Not surprisingly the sermon was about the duties of a good Christian, who would have thought so. However I noticed that in the last years? months? (gradually starting) the sermon dealt with the topic of the duties to the refugees more and more often.
While I can understand this from a Christian perspective I cannot support it any longer. We just cannot help everybody (or we would end up poor like them). My son wil start a christian daycare soon and we planned to enroll him in a Christian childrens group this fall but I became reluctant to do this. For this very reason.

My sons have been born very lucky compared to this refugees but how far do their duties towards them go?

Does a lucky birth give you the obligation to care for those less fortunate? How far does this obligation go? What about those born white, male and middle-class? Is their main job to serve other regardless of their own needs. I know quite a few from this demographic who find their whole purpose in life in serving others as development workers, soldiers, environmentalists and so on.

My parents, who where not even born that lucky (because of socialism), but had luck later in life, thought we had that obligation. Now I am not unhappy with the way I was raised but it turned my brother into liberals and while I like my bothers I would be heartbroken if ours sons turned out to be liberals. *lol* Really.

@Jonathan:
I must confess it never occurred to me to be embarrassed about knowing too much, or worried that my children might seem that way to others. It might be a cultural difference.


I never thought about this being a cultural thing but thought of this as a liberal thing and present in all western nations... but now that you say it... You are jewish and they say that this is the culture of the book. I am not sure if it In my country you are rather not caught knowing too much or having experiences that differ from that of other people. It makes people supicious of you. Now I don't want to say that you should know too little. That would be equally bad. In order to be respected and popular you must just know what everybody else knows - no more, no less.
Now I thought that liberalism might be to blame for that and that's why I did not discuss this with other parents I know because I allready know they think my son should not have extra knowledge. I wanted to have a non-liberal point of view.

But if he sees his father treated with contempt every day, he will learn the wrong lesson.


I am just curious and you can tell me the truth. Did the things I write give you the impression I treat his father with contempt or was this just a general point you are making?

I hope your children are giving you as much pleasure as mine are giving me.


Oh, yes. You have a new baby, don't you. Is it a boy or a girl?
Yessica
 
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Re: Toddler questions (about using unusual words and talking about obligations)

Postby Jonathan » 26 Jun 2015, 14:14

Yessica wrote:The person who has no obligations towards anybody is a chav and for sure I don't want our son to grow up to be a chav but then when I think of the opposite end of the continuum - the guiltridden liberal - it's not much better.


I see two continuums here, not two. The first is the personal duties continuum, with the chav on one end, and the monk or hermit on the other end. The second is the collective duties continuum, with the nationalist on one end and the guiltridden liberal on the other end.

@Jonathan:
I must confess it never occurred to me to be embarrassed about knowing too much, or worried that my children might seem that way to others. It might be a cultural difference.


I never thought about this being a cultural thing but thought of this as a liberal thing and present in all western nations... but now that you say it... You are jewish and they say that this is the culture of the book. I am not sure if it In my country you are rather not caught knowing too much or having experiences that differ from that of other people. It makes people supicious of you. Now I don't want to say that you should know too little. That would be equally bad. In order to be respected and popular you must just know what everybody else knows - no more, no less.


I think that's exactly the right explanation. Don't worry, I won't tell any other Germans you know this, so as not to embarrass you :)

But if he sees his father treated with contempt every day, he will learn the wrong lesson.


I am just curious and you can tell me the truth. Did the things I write give you the impression I treat his father with contempt or was this just a general point you are making?
[/quote]

I was not thinking of anything you had written. To be perfectly honest - I was thinking of the cultural differences between me and my in-laws. Isn't that funny? People think of Israel as monolithic (it's just a bunch of Jews, right?), but take a Jew from New York and a Jew from Yemen, and when their grandchildren marry you can still see the differences. This is not to say that mizrachi wives don't treat their husbands with respect - quite the opposite. It's just that the loud contrariness which passes for casual conversation in one household is interpreted differently in another household.

I suspect that the more I try to explain, the more confusing I sound.

I hope your children are giving you as much pleasure as mine are giving me.


Oh, yes. You have a new baby, don't you. Is it a boy or a girl?[/quote]

A girl, this time, almost a year old by now. She's just starting to walk by pushing a chair. And she'll probably wake up any minute now, so I should post this comment already :)
Jonathan
 
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Re: Toddler questions (about using unusual words and talking about obligations)

Postby Yessica » 21 Jul 2015, 07:36

Jonathan wrote:I see two continuums here, not two. The first is the personal duties continuum, with the chav on one end, and the monk or hermit on the other end. The second is the collective duties continuum, with the nationalist on one end and the guiltridden liberal on the other end.


That is an interesting perspective you are adding. Thank you. I think I agree with it to a certain extent... but then I think that there are people who have too much personal responsibility... like the vegan who thinks that he alone is responsible for stopping climate change.

I was not thinking of anything you had written. To be perfectly honest - I was thinking of the cultural differences between me and my in-laws. Isn't that funny? People think of Israel as monolithic (it's just a bunch of Jews, right?), but take a Jew from New York and a Jew from Yemen, and when their grandchildren marry you can still see the differences. This is not to say that mizrachi wives don't treat their husbands with respect - quite the opposite. It's just that the loud contrariness which passes for casual conversation in one household is interpreted differently in another household.

I suspect that the more I try to explain, the more confusing I sound.


No it does not sound confusing to me. We have the same kind of cultural differences in our country.
...but, yes, it is true, when I hear the word Israel the picture of some european jews (Ashkenazim?) with funny heads and beards pops to my mind though that probably couldn't be farer from the truth.
The question may be a bit global and hard to answer: How is the kind of multiculturalism dealt with in Israel? Do persons typically see themselves as "a jew" or "a person of polish ancestry"? How do you think of a person of jewish ancestry who is an atheist? Would you still see him as a jew? How would you think about me if I decided to convert to judaism? Would I be "a jew" in you eyes? (Not planning to do that, just a question)

A girl, this time, almost a year old by now. She's just starting to walk by pushing a chair. And she'll probably wake up any minute now, so I should post this comment already :)


Sweet! They are so sweet at this age :)
Yessica
 
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