Community Internet Culture

Day 901 and Self Regulation

I don’t know why I chose violence today, but apparently I dropped a chaos grenade onto my Twitter timeline. I hesitated, in extremely soft language, to ask if anyone has noticed that kids from conservative households seem have more pro-social behavior. I phrased it with a lot of ambiguity as I don’t know how I feel either.

Going to float a very controversial observation but anecdotally in my limited experience:
The children of my conservative friends are better behaved & more individuated & well socialized than the children of my liberal friends.
Anyone have takes on why this is the case?

Naturally when something pulls on a thread of social insecurity it will unravel quickly. I am a very gifted shitposter. I step on these third rails on purpose. I am not an activist for any cause so much as comfortable being uncomfortable. Alas I have already hit Godwin’s Law on the Tweet so for my own nervous system I’m done.

But I have noticed that as cultural pendulums swing, there is a distinct lack of appreciation for tolerance of other people’s constant dysfunction. Where we draw the line as to appropriate social behavior is a hugely contested space online. Much as it has ever been in literature and history. I hear Socrates got the death penalty for perverting the youth.

My point in all this is that we all benefit from having youth understand the world and their place in it. Our toddlers cannot be expected to have the fully formed rationality of a legal scholar.

Sometimes the answer is no because Mom or Dad said so. Not every social boundary is bad for us. A child throwing a tantrum is asking for you the adult to help them find the self regulation that their environment isn’t giving them. And it’s absolutely ok to be authoritative. It’s not the same thing as authoritarian.

The general consensus on the thread seems to be that multi-generational and multicultural spaces for consistent socialization combine well with firm boundaries. Knowing when certain behaviors are appropriate can often be a winning combination for learning to individuate into your own person. Feeling safe to be yourself looks different for everyone.

Now I’d read all of this mouthing off from me with a big heaping spoonful of that fucking libertarian-pirate-hippie-Silicon Valley-born-Rocky-Mountain raised salt. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just a very American kind of mutt.

I personally have found it helpful to be as accountable as I can be to myself while holding as much empathy for the experiences of other people as I can. I will disagree with you a lot. I’m ok with that because I have firm boundaries too. So don’t be an NPC ok? Let’s make civilization work together.

5 replies on “Day 901 and Self Regulation”

I think there are many and varied reasons for this. One major most conservatives parents I know will put their kids outside and tell them to go find other kids ( often called free ranging by non conservatives). Though this may be a factor of income and suburban safety. Another major factor that strikes me is outlook. I find conservative parents tend to view the US as a good country with a good future that if you work hard you can improve your life. Most (very) Liberal parents I know believe the US is in decline and that you can only get ahead by luck. Which is strange as they tend to be more prone to pushing their children to college. When that is what you instill it seems to backfire.

I’ve definitely noticed this as well. Obviously difficult to analyse, but I’m happy to speculate. A few points:

1) I’m curious as to how *conservative* your conservative friends are. In my small sample of friends, I’ve got a few friends who have slightly conservative, but generally open, tolerant and lovely, parents – they all turned out very well-adjusted: polite, sensible, friendly, generous etc. One of the boys is mildly autistic, but you’d never notice because of how well-brought-up he is. But a couple of my friends have strongly conservative parents, and they ended up a bit less well adjusted. I get the impression that people who are *seriously* conservative (above the 75th percentile, strongly religious, very conservative social views etc.) are in a different category here, and I presume these would have slightly less well-adjusted kids (beyond a certain level). I’d guess that your friends are in the 3rd quartile (50-75 percentile) of conservative-ness?

2. In China, where I’ve spent a lot of my life, the children of more liberal parents seem to turn out a lot better. My theory has always been that there is a happy medium between conservative (authoritarian) and liberal parenting and education styles – having clear rules and moral norms, but allowing self-expression in most aspects of life. I think the norms in China (parenting and education) lean so strongly authoritarian that even children of liberal parents have to live very structured and rule-based lives, and parenting allows a healthy amount of freedom outside of the authoritarian education system. The opposite seems true for Chinese-Americans/ British Chinese who have more authoritarian, ‘tiger-parenting’ styles, but their school gives them healthy amounts of freedom, whereas they’d be stifled in China.

I’m not sure the initial hypothesis is true. Been visiting the US and have met a lot of liberal parents with excellent children, clearly raised to be curious, ask questions and be kind, yet adhere to common sense boundaries. It’s probably more a parenting skill question than a liberal-conservative question.

Comments are closed.