North Texas Objectivist Society (NTOS) Message Board › Raising children under Objectivism

Raising children under Objectivism

Plano, TX
Post #: 58
Here is a question that I have wanted to ask for a while, but wasn't sure exactly how to ask it.
How do you raise kids with a healthy view of individualism so that they understand it?

For example, when my kids invite friends over, they are expected to share toys. I tell them ahead of time, if there is something you don't want to share, let's put it up so it won't be an issue. With kids in their age group (4 to 10) I think that is the easiest method. If its my 15 year old, he can just tell his friends if he doesn't want them to use something.

I was hoping in reading some of Ayn Rand's fiction I could have seen an example. But, although I think the lady was very smart, and had many great ideas, I haven't found anything that has been useful to me in answering this question. So far I have read We The Living, Anthem, The Fountainhead, and am slowly working my way through Atlas Shrugged (about 70% the way through I believe.)

I did read an essay on ARI's site called Children of the damned, talking about how society seems to want us to raise the kids to be "serfs" for the country as opposed to indviduals. I particularly liked this paragraph:

Parents should have the right to make the decisions on how to raise their own children and good parents realize that the purpose of child-rearing is to prepare young people to live independent lives, in pursuit of their own values.

I guess what I am asking parents out there is some of the methods they use to talk to youngsters not quite ready to read even Anthem or Rand's other works?

How do YOU explain Objectivism to children?
How do you raise a kid to keep an indvidual mind and spirit, without him/her coming across as a trouble maker at school?

edited to add:
I did find info about Children, Parents and Power Struggles (CD) by Susan Crawford on ARI's site. Has anyone listened to this cd, and could offer an opinion on it?
Plano, TX
Post #: 60
Hey, there...I know Travis already posted a thank you...but I wanted to thank everyone as well that was helping me on this question as well.
We both got more insight into it.
A former member
Post #: 1
Howdy I have raised 3 kids within the objectivist home and they did pretty well by my standards. without going into details,(pointing out of failures) I passed on to you what
I think are only the best ideas. one idea at a time. And this is absolutly the best sure-fire
idea I know. DO NOT DESTROY THERE MINDS!!!!!!!!!!!!! They are born ojectivist, the quickest way to make them a collectivist is to destroy self confidence. The easy way to destroy self esteem is to poison them. All softdrinks are poison. you may know this already, it is so simple it is sometimes over looked. See ya soon Pat Brady.
Allen, TX
Post #: 23
First, I want to quickly respond to Pat's post.

No one is born an Objectivist (or a Christian, Muslim or anything else). Objectivism is a systematic, philosophical system that must be learned and practiced consciously. Learning its principles, and how to apply them, can take an adult many years.

If a child is raised under the guidance of Objectivist parents, he might not take as long in coming to understand the principles or their application. The fact that his understanding can be accelerated does nothing to support the position that we give birth to Objectivists.

I agree that destroying a child's self-confidence can lead to his later embracing an ideology that ignores—or attacks—an individual's proper relationship to society. Generally speaking, if we want to help our children learn their own value (and thereby gain self confidence) we must teach them how to use their minds. Merely telling a parent not to destroy her child's mind does not offer much practical guidance.

Finally, I have never heard of any causal link (direct or otherwise) between a child’s self esteem and his intake of soda.

For young children, you do not explain Objectivism to them. We can provide them with an outlook that logically (not automatically) leads to Objectivism. We can provide this outlook by presenting them with a natural view of the world.

Teaching my seven-year old son that he lives in an orderly, natural universe has been fairly easy. My wife and I have read to our son for many years. A regular staple has been (and remains) books about nature (the planets and stars, volcanoes, dinosaurs and so on). Children generally have a natural curiosity about the world around them and my son is no different. The idea of the supernatural became alien to him.

Over time, my son became insistent that he understand (fully, completely and without qualification) most everything we talk about. I say "most everything" because when he is not interested in (or is annoyed by) a particular topic, he turns off. (You can probably guess what those topics are.) The payoff: He expects things to make sense.

There are two other very important things parents must do that, because of time, I must save for another post: basic tools for using their minds and the role of right and wrong.

Plano, TX
Post #: 61

For young children, you do not explain Objectivism to them. We can provide them with an outlook that logically (not automatically) leads to Objectivism. We can provide this outlook by presenting them with a natural view of the world.
There are two other very important things parents must do that, because of time, I must save for another post: basic tools for using their minds and the role of right and wrong.

Hmmm...okay, this seems to me a common sense way to raise kids. We are doing that ourselves, I think, with our kids. Or at least trying. smile We try to use books and other media to give our kids a good foundation to understand things about the world.

Maybe I have been over thinking this, or perhaps even comparing Objectivism to religion...without realizing it. Most people that claim to be in a religion raise their kids a certain way to think as that religion, and to identify it so that kids would say I am Catholic, I am Baptist or I am Muslim, etc. That's a mistake on my part.
From the discussions this past Saturday, and from your post, it seems to me that I have been over thinking this in terms of labeling. I think I was thinking of the kids as Objectivists, when really children are really kids that have Objectivist parents.

This past NTOS meeting was an eye opener on many different issues. I have been checking my premises ever since. Even my 15 year old paid attention.

I would love to discuss the two other points you mentioned in the future as well.
BTW Dan, it was nice to meet you wife. I am sorry my daughter was hanging off her all night. Olivia was apparently shopping for a mother, and I think she put your wife on the top of the candidate list hahah.

Allen, TX
Post #: 24
Olivia is a doll and I know Carlleen didn't mind giving her some attention.

I think you are right when you say that parents can be Objectivists while the kids are just that--kids with Objectivist parents.

I look forward to talking with you and Travis further.

Dallas, TX
Post #: 26
The question of sharing amongst the kids is an interesting one. For matters of practicality and pure finances, a lot of the toys in the house become “community” property. To end the incessant fighting over who’s toy something is, you get into a pattern of just saying this is everyone’s, you must learn to share. It’s very hard to reason with a 3 year old testing their boundaries. But again, this sets up a collective of sorts. You teach your children that sharing is the better end to stop the fighting. At the same time, when going over to someone else’s house or in public, your continuous trying to stress to them they can’t just go play with something, that it’s not theirs and that the owner doesn’t have to share. I’ve been thinking about this more and more lately, wondering just how damaging this contradiction has been to the kids just for short term goals of the parents’ peace mind and sanity.

I think my goal right now is trying to come up with a way to give the kids a better sense of individualism and personal space, but it’s a tough thing to figure out right now, it’s not how I was raised. Unfortunately I don’t see teaching them critical thinking and ethics alone as a means of fixing this, but it helps.

I’m also wondering how much of the altruistic nature of the religions come from the larger family units. Having to share a room with one or more siblings and sharing possessions simply by the virtue of limited room and almost no privacy definitely has an impact on the individual. I know some of the religious divisions encourage larger families and children, but not sure to the actual extent that is. I’ve been examining the welfare and tax system we have in place lately and it’s finally dawned on me the extent the government encourages people to have children, even more so it seems when parent’s can’t really support them.

- Travis
Allen, TX
Post #: 25
A practical suggestion regarding the toys: You might try letting the young ones pick a few toys that are their "special" toys, the ones they love the most. Those toys can be off limits to others. If company is coming over, let the kids know not to leave those toys lying around. The toys that are not as special are for all of us to play with.

I have had some success with this when Aaron's cousins or friends were coming over.

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