11:58 PM 8/20/2006 by Macro90
I have just watched an episode of Super Nanny with the Schwartz family in which Jo the Super Nanny makes naughty children sit on a bean bag if they misbehave. Now I thought at first that if you had to sit on a bean bag for a while then that is hardly a punishment. After all, a bean bag is rather comfortable. When the first kid, a little girl was told by her mother to put her folder away, she didn't do it and so was sent to the naughty bean bag. The kid didn't like being on the bean bag and so went off and then the parent came to the child, put the child back on the bean bag and then walked away again. If the child got off, the parent went back to the child, grabbed the child, and then put the child back on the bean bag again. I kept thinking, "This is false imprisonment!" This is effectively locking a child up becuase the child's movements are restricted. The child has no freedom to go anywhere. Here is evidence of child abuse and it's recorded and publically available for everyone to see. Surely there should be some outrage at this.
Super Nanny would probably argue that it's okay to discipline a child by punishing them so that they grow up to do good things. In this case the argument is that it's okay to hurt a child by restricting her freedom so that she learns to organize herself by putting her folder away. But why is organization good? Organization skills may be important in the future for the child because organization helps productivity. Skills in organization can increase productivity. Having things in certain positions allows you to find them faster. E.g. if you were collecting mail from the letterbox and then archived it alphabetically you would be able to retrieve any mail you had very quickly because they are organized in alphabetical order. So it's clear organization skills can increase productivity that can help a child in the future.
Now suppose there was a father who uses the following reasoning: adults have sex, children become adults, and therefore children need to learn sex. Sex skills are certainly important when the child grows up. It is extremely likely the child will need to know how to have sex when she grows up, moreso than organizational skills. Therefore, if a father teaches his daughter sex skills and if the child does not perform the sexual acts well enough, then she is classified as naughty and therefore the father is right ot punish her by whipping her or by locking her up? Maybe shackle her with handcuffs? Imagine a mother doing this to a little 4-year-old girl. What is the difference between the sex situation mentioned and Super Nanny's naughty bean bag technique?
I've spoken with some people and told then that I think this naughty bean bag technique is horrible. They then say, "How dare you tell me how to parent!" They are may children and I discipline them the way I want. Okay, then if that's the case then I mentioned the point I made above. What if a mother or father attempted to teach them about sex and then discplined them depending on how well they performed it? They said, "Oh, no, that's different. That's sex. What Super Nanny was talking about was organization. That's different." But how? I just said that both were good because they potentially helped a child with something that they were going to need when they grew up. The discpline develops a skill of the child that would be useful for the child when she grew up. Both therefore are equivalent in terms of why we are teaching the children these things. So how are they different? They then said, "Oh, man, that's disgusting! How can a parent have sex with his or her daughter!" But didn't they just say, "How dare you tell me how to parent!" How come nobody can criticize them for their parenting yet they can criticize other parents for using their own techniques of raising their kids? Man!
I do not believe therefore that parents should have the right to impose their values on children. Why? Simply, imagine if a child molestor told his child daughter or son that she or he should be having sex with millions of strangers and that this was going to improve the child's sex skills, which will be useful in the future. It is better if there are objective standards of parenting just as their are obnjective standards for handling adults. For example, adults who wrongfully imprison other adults will be dealt with under the law. But if a child is wrongfully imprisoned by the parents, then the parent gets away with it! Of course this raised another issue. The parents may not know what is right, and so therefore the government should set the standards, i.e. no sex, no this, no that. But what if the government doesn't know? What if the government is wrong? Then would it be better to put power back into the hands of the parents?