About kids. Whether or not I want any is irrelevant. However, I’ve always found the topic of how one should raise children a fascinating subject, not only because it makes one ponder nature/nurture, but also because it reflects our view on society and cultural mindsets.
I often find myself irritated at the parents out there, like my own, who indoctrinate their children with their close-minded beliefs. Who teach their kids to feel hate and prejudice towards people who are different than them, or any number of terrible learned behaviors. I especially despise it when the parents cut off their children from outside influences that do not correlate with their beliefs— regulating what their children are allowed to read, watch, be exposed to. They tell their children “My way is the right way, and if anyone dares to disagree they are an unworthy human being.”
In short, I dislike their indoctrination of beliefs and the refusal to allow their children to make their own decisions and cultivate their own opinions on different subjects.
However, this gets me to thinking about how I personally would raise a child. I have a mental list of all the things I would teach my child, the way I would raise him or her. I would teach her to love reading, science, curiosity, and logic. Whenever she asks me a question I would explain to her logically the answer and push her to figure out the answer by herself. I would explain to her racism, sexism, classism, etc, and inform her on cultural prejudices, the gender, sexuality, and romance spectrum, and instill in her a firm belief in equality for all people.
But here’s where I run into a wall.
I believe in equality for all people, regardless of race/gender/finances, etc, yes? Yes. I intend to instill in my (for argument’s sake I will assume I will have a) daughter a similar belief. I intend to tell my daughter that people who do not believe in equality for all believe wrongly/badly. I intend to try and foster in her beliefs that are similar to my own with regards to things like feminism.
How does that make me any different from those who would indoctrinate their children with close-minded religion? In each case there is a trusted adult, a parent, strongly influencing the views of a child to be aligned with their own. It’s manipulation the child is too young to understand. Does it matter whether the manipulation is positive or negative? Both the overprotective religious parent and I have a strong belief we think is morally right, and we both think the other is morally wrong. Essentially, we both think we’re doing the right thing.
And if I were to not let my daughter read/watch things that objectify women or portray them in a dehumanizing way or stress that their looks are the only important part of them, am I not doing the same as the religious parent who does not let their child read/watch things that portray Christians badly?
In both cases it is a matter of opinion, and in both cases we think we are doing the right thing for our child.
Would that make me the type of parent I despise?
So I guess the question is this: is it always wrong to indoctrinate your children, or is it acceptable if you’re instilling them with “good” values? And if it is acceptable if you’re instilling them with “good” values, how does one measure what values are wrong and what values are right besides personal opinion?