The 5th rule of Jordan Peterson’s book, 12 rules for life, is for parents.
As my friend Matt Hosier says “If you are a parent you must read it. And if you are not a parent but know someone who is, you need to persuade them to read it.”
Some of his wisdom is helpful not just parents.
But human beings are evil, as well as good, and the darkness that dwells forever in our souls is also there in no small part in our younger selves. In general, people improve with age, rather than worsening, becoming kinder, more conscientious, and more emotionally stable as they mature.
However, what he says to parents is important and necessary, especially as parents have so many other pressures on them that bringing up children can be neglected, especially younger children.
Children must be shaped and informed, or they cannot thrive. This fact is reflected starkly in their behavior: kids are utterly desperate for attention from both peers and adults because such attention, which renders them effective and sophisticated communal players, is vitally necessary.
it is disproportionately those who remain unsocialized effectively by age four who end up punished explicitly by society in their later youth and early adulthood.
He talks about the fears that stops parents being as effective as they could be.
But more often than not, modern parents are simply paralyzed by the fear that they will no longer be liked or even loved by their children if they chastise them for any reason. They want their children’s friendship above all, and are willing to sacrifice respect to get it. This is not good. A
Scared parents think that a crying child is always sad or hurt. This is simply not true. Anger is one of the most common reasons for crying.
He shares other insights as a clinical professional.
Infants are like blind people, searching for a wall. They have to push forward, and test, to see where the actual boundaries lie (and those are too-seldom where they are said to be).
We do our children a disservice by failing to use whatever is available to help them learn, including negative emotions, even though such use should occur in the most merciful possible manner.
He gives five principles regarding discipline.
1: limit the rules. 2: use minimum necessary force. 3: parents should come in pairs. 4l: parents should understand their own capacity to be harsh, vengeful, arrogant, resentful, angry and deceitful. 5. Parents have a duty to act as proxies for the real world—merciful proxies, caring proxies—but proxies, nonetheless.
He also gives a summary of what we should teach our children. It is a little tongue in cheek, but very profound and wise.
Do not bite, kick or hit, except in self-defence. Do not torture or bully other children, so you don’t end up in jail. Eat in a civilised and thankful manner, so that people are happy to have you at their house, and pleased to feed you. Learn to share, so other kids will play with you. Pay attention when spoken to by adults, so they don’t hate you and might therefore deign to teach you something. Go to sleep properly, and peaceably, so that your parents can have a private life and not resent your existence. Take care of your belongings, because you need to learn how and because you’re lucky to have them. Be good company when something fun is happening, so that you’re invited for the fun. Act so that other people are happy you’re around, so that people will want you around. A child who knows these rules will be welcome everywhere.
And that is why (because they haven’t been taught these things) so many children are unwelcome, pretty much everywhere. If you are a parent, don’t let this be your child.
Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.
Written by Tony Thompson