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Posts Tagged ‘Democracy’

Canucks Vote Early and Vote Often

April 6, 2011 3 comments

An election is coming.  Universal peace is declared, and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.  ~George Eliot, Felix Holt

My cup is overflowing. It is the time of year when I normally jump on our Vancouver Canuck bandwagon, as they head into the playoffs with flying colours; I paint my face blue and acquaint myself with the names of the players on their first line. But this year there is something else to brush up on: our federal election.

How I will slot in time to part my hair I’m not sure.

I normally avoid politics like the plague. It is as interesting to me as Jerry Springer, which is to say, it’s not at all interesting. I just can’t get excited about grown ups arguing over policy. It’s not like they are speaking openly and honestly about anything, they are speaking in order to win supporters. They are saying whatever will get them in power.

The last time I heard a politician compliment an opponent, or say something along the lines of “that is a great idea, I think Canadians will really benefit from your suggestion,” was, let me see, never.

They argue for the sake of arguing. It all seems futile. Like a game I used to play with my friend when we would each scream, and then vote about who screamed the loudest. Everytime, we voted for ourselves, no matter how lung curdling and impressive the result.

On our trip home last week from California, I spied a red election sign, soon accompanied by blue and orange ones. An election had been called in our absence, which not surprisingly the USA Today – delivered each morning – had not picked up, choosing instead to report about how beautiful people were happier than those less beautiful, and how a movement was afoot to ban children to their own separate section on airplanes, among other gems. It was like reading People magazine everyday, fine for a vacation, but far from reality.

I sat up straighter in my seat. The vacation was over, it was time to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

Growing up, my father was a big proponent of exercising your democratic right to vote. It went something like, if you live in this house, you had better vote in every election you are privileged to live through. He was outspoken on this topic. Although his roots are Irish, his vehemency makes me wonder if also had some ties to Socrates.

And so as I spied those red, blue, and orange signs, I realized it was time to force myself to pay attention to what differentiated the parties at war. Sift through the rhetoric to determine what would match my best Canada. I know it won’t be pretty or fun and will certainly be frustrating, but it’s my small contribution to society.

And so, as I actually read instead of skip over the growing political section of the newspaper, I ask you this:  How about those Canucks?

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Parenting: Democracy or Dictatorship?

February 16, 2011 6 comments

I know some really good parents, and I know some really bad parents. I’m not naming names; you know who you are.

Or maybe you don’t. Maybe, like Amy Chua, you think forcing your child to practice the piano for hours each day is your idea of a loving relationship. You’re thinking, they’ll thank me in the long run.  Forcing them to bring home A’s, even bribing them into doing so, is your idea of caring.  Chua’s book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother reads more like an exercise in child abuse rather than a useful parenting tool.

There has been a huge backlash since Chua’s parenting memoir was released in January. For a truly chilling account of her parenting style, click on this article by Chua which appeared in the Wall Street Journal, which details why she would never let her child go on a play date, receive a grade less than an A, or let them play any instrument other than the piano or the violin. It is all shocking, but she attributes these methods to the reason Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful children.

It would be easy to attack someone who mandates their children practice their instrument for three hours a day (the first hour is the easy part, Chua says, it’s hours two and three that get difficult). Rather than climb aboard the growing anti-Chua train that is snaking its way across North America, I thought I’d write about an entirely opposite parenting movement that is gaining popularity in my neighborhood that embraces a much gentler and respectful style.

A growing group of parents I know actually go to a parenting group. They meet on a monthly basis and discuss their issues with the help of a counselor.

Many of these people start their sentences with, “Jim Skinner says…”, Jim Skinner being their therapist/guru/demi-god. Skinner uses the Adler approach to parenting, which emphasizes the freedom to be creative while making decisions within a respectful and responsible family structure. My interest piqued by all this Skinner-disciple talk, I decided to check him out when he lectured at our school.

Almost everything he touched on made intuitive sense to me, and seemed to take into account both the wishes of the parent and the child. Here are some of the highlights from the one lecture I attended:

  • Parenting with a hands joined in a democratic arrangement is by far the most successful of parenting styles, judging from his twenty years of helping families. Military style parents: throw your whips out with the garbage. To summarize, in a democratic house, when misbehavior occurs, you and your child come up with consequences together. This gives the child a voice and some control over the situation, rather than being rendered a helpless deer caught in the headlights, awaiting the blow of whatever punishment the parent deems worthy.
  • Pampering and spoiling children does them a disservice; this includes overindulging, being over permissive, over dominating, and being over protective.
  • The best parenting style is one that fosters and develops a child’s self-esteem through encouragement.
  • Think of successful sports teams: they are co-operative, and work together as a team to produce great results, as opposed to a team with a few individual stars on its roster. A family should also be set up in a co-operative way; minimize competition, maximize working together to achieve goals.
  • People don’t change, they simply become more or less of who they are from the beginning. It is the role of the parent to help invent a child’s future by determining their unique strengths.
  • Help children learn from their mistakes, rather than simply chastising them.

If this parenting style catches your fancy more than Chua’s, ignore her controversial book and instead pick up Honey I Wrecked the Kids, by Alyson Schafer. Your children will thank you, and Child Services won’t come knocking.