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Different ways to raise children Different ways to raise children
by Joseph Gatt
2021-06-14 09:07:44
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Being an anthropologist of sorts, I spent a lot of time with a lot of families. I do have my preferences when it comes to raising children, but there are the patterns I observed here and there.

Raising children is usually a mixture of four things: playing, networking, learning, and getting good grades. So here are the different forms of education that I observed over the years.

chil00_400Form 1: all play, no networking, no learning, no attention to grades

So you have parents who let the kids play all day. Kids don't really network (they stick to one or two friends at best). Kids don't learn much of anything (no educational activities). And kids' education is neglected, and the only time kids hear about education is when the grade reports come out and the parents are angry. Then the kids go back to playing video games or some other games, or to watching entertainment programs.

Form 2: lots of play, lots of networking, no learning, no attention to grades

So these kids play a lot, but, the advantage is they are members of lots of organizations. They have tennis lessons on the weekends where they hang out with a crowd. Or soccer games on the weekend where they hang out with a crowd. They go to Church, or they attend lots of birthday parties. Or they are members of a sports team, or a theater troupe, or a music band or choir. And they spend summers at camps or social resorts.

But, they leave learning and grades out of the equation. The advantage is these kids are going to be comfortable meeting people and working with people. The disadvantage is they might take a few impulsive decisions later in life, and won't have patience to think things through and look at the evidence before taking important decisions.

Form 3: lots of play, lots of networking, lots of learning, no attention to grades

For these kids grades kind of pick up. That is they get passing grades. They don't like to put too much focus on studying for tests, but they do watch that documentary, do a little bit of research, read encyclopedia entries or read the occasional novel or book.

The advantage is they will be comfortable doing research before taking important decisions. The disadvantage perhaps is they will treat life's tests a little bit casually.

Form 4: lots of play, lots of networking, lots of learning, studying hard for good grades

Now these are alpha-kids. Super-men and Wonder-women. This combination is extremely rare. But optimal.

Usually kids focus too much on grades to network. Or network so much they forget to study for tests. But ideally, over the years, I'd recommend that parents work hard to achieve this optimal balance.

Form 5: No play, lots of networking, lots of learning, studying hard for grades.

There's nothing wrong with refusing to play. Some kids like to be serious, refuse to play games. But they are comfortable talking to people and learning. A little bit serious and austere, but nothing wrong with that.

Form 6: No play, no networking, lots of learning, studying hard to get good grades

Now I'd be a little worried. If the kids refuse to talk to people and interact with people and all they do is learn and study for grades, they are called “nerds” in popular culture, and that's a pejorative term.

So I'd work on getting the kids to play a little bit and to be a little more comfortable talking to people.

Form 7: No play, no networking, no learning, studying hard to get good grades

This gets even worse. All the kid does is homework and focusing on grades. Parents face a dilemma, as they don't want grades to drop, but they want to kid to have fun. Plus, if the kid focuses on grades exclusively, the kid might not have a realistic outlook on professional life.

Other combinations

Some kids like to network and learn, but don't play all that much, and don't study hard for tests. Others like to network and study hard for tests, but don't like playing and learning.

OK. Here's the deal. A lot of parents ask their children to make “daily plans” or “weekly plans” and to flesh out what they are going to do every hour of the week. I'm very much opposed to that.

Other parents want their children to have full autonomy, and to decide what's best for them. I'm also kind of opposed to that.

What I'd do as a parent is have a repertoire of games that could be played by the children, alone or in groups. I'd try to encourage the children to belong to several social groups. I'd try to encourage the children to learn.

How do you encourage children to learn? It's simple things like inculcating the habit of looking up words in the dictionary, looking up concepts in encyclopedias, perhaps watching a few documentaries about science, history, politics or whatever.

As for acing those tests I'd make sure the children are keeping up with their class notes. That they are not sleeping in class. If they are sleeping in class I'd try to figure out what's going on. And keep up with test dates and try to get some work done to ace those tests.

Then of course I'd encourage teenagers to get a part-time job on the weekends or during breaks. Any kind of legal paid work, in my view, has a ton of benefits, namely three benefits: kids develop a realistic outlook on the job market. Benefit number two is they have experience they can put on the resume. Benefit number three is they can start daydreaming and planning their career more realistically.

So if you plan life around a little bit of play, a little bit of networking, a little bit of learning and a little bit of studying for tests, you shouldn't get too many tantrums. But you need to make it clear that childhood and teenage life is a combination of those four things. That should technically make for a happy childhood.

So, happy children's day!

What? Today is not children's day!

Every day is children's day!

But I'm not a child!

We are all children!

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