You are here

Procreation is not Parenting

Send him mail. “Insight for the Young and Unrestrained” is an original column appearing every Thursday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Gregory V. Diehl. Gregory is a writer, musician, educator, and coach for young people at EnabledYouth.com. Archived columns can be found here. IYU-only RSS feed available here. It’s been part of my long-term mission in life to spread awareness of the distinction between understanding and implementation, or “education vs. training” as I’ve previously referred to it. People active in the process of “doing” something take pride in the fact that they manage to work hard, regardless of how well their task is actually accomplished. This seems to be a direct correlation to the common practice of equating “hard work” with “a job well done,” the fallacy of which should be obvious to anyone with a mindset oriented toward efficiency.People who invest their time acquiring a more thorough understanding of something before embarking on a plan of action receive far less social credit for their “theoretical” knowledge of how reality works. This applies, perhaps more than anywhere else, to the practice of raising children. People who have embarked on the path of genetic reproduction will immediately assume an air of accomplishment or expertise. After all, they have kids. How could someone who doesn’t even have kids possibly have acquired more knowledge than they on healthy principles of raising children? This is, to me, as crude and ignorant as a man who accidently loses himself in the jungle bragging about his clumsiness – and taking personal pride in the dangerous circumstances chance brought into his life. What if he, in scoffing pride and disbelief, asked how someone who isn’t even lost wandering aimlessly through the wilderness could possibly know anything about how to survive in the wild? It is the difference between the ability to buy a boat and the ability to sail one. How could someone who doesn’t even have enough money to buy a boat know anything about how to sail one? These very people would just as soon claim that they, having purchased a large number of airline tickets in the past, are most qualified to pilot an aircraft. It is easy to see that this type of thinking, when applied to almost any area outside of human child development, quickly dissolves into absurdity. A wise man will prepare himself for all the foreseeable difficulties and new responsibilities his choices will bring into his life – so that he will accomplish his new tasks as well as humanly possible. He will study the forest and all its dangers before intentionally trekking forth into it. He will study the winds and ocean currents before setting sail. The fool, who lacks meaning in his life, will attempt to inflate his sense of importance by taking on larger and larger amounts of responsibility well before he is ready for them. So long as people equate action or effort with achievement and result, this fallacy will continue to haunt the lives of shortsighted individuals,... Read the full thing

Why Every Man Should Work with Children

Send him mail. “Insight for the Young and Unrestrained” is an original column appearing every Thursday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Gregory V. Diehl. Gregory is a writer, musician, educator, and coach for young people at EnabledYouth.com. Archived columns can be found here. IYU-only RSS feed available here. By now, most thinking people know how important the influence of a caring male figure (preferably the biological father) is over the healthy physical and emotional development of children. It’s an inescapable part of the way we been shaped to develop, by mimicking the influences of the older authorities in our lives. What’s more rarely discussed is how, when done right, this relationship is reciprocal, and the grown men can be benefited even more than the children involved.Unlocking the Mentoring and Fatherly Potential Present in All Men While avoiding absolute generalizations, men are undoubtedly the more stoic sex. Many of us grow far removed from other people unless we have something to tether us to the rest of the world. These ties usually exist as any experience which catalyzes a peak emotional response within us. It can be the thrill and excitement of an action-packed movie or a sports game- or it can be the soothing influence of a women’s touch. These kinds of activities unlock parts of our natural emotional capacity that we tend to have difficulty reaching on our own. There is a unique part of the emotional range of every man that I believe can only become accessible in the presence of children. Inside every one of us is an instinct for parental support, though many people unconsciously avoid it when they have not yet learned to take care of even their own problems yet. When adult males accept the presence of young growing humans into their emotional awareness, it alters how they speak, act, and even carry themselves. In time, we grow to become more protective, watchful, and driven by a desire to teach and lead those who haven’t yet learned the lessons experience has granted us. Kids Empower Men by Making Them Vulnerable I’ve interacted with a great number of men who seem almost terrified of being around children – and not just because they can be loud, messy, and generally unpredictable. These men (and some women) will automatically rigidify emotionally around kids. If they simply aren’t ready to feel the new states of mind that protective influence over the young requires, they are prone to distancing themselves entirely. In some ways, young children, especially young girls, are the polar opposites on the emotional spectrum of adult males. That can be a terrifying experience for us to encounter. There’s a reason that even many of the fathers who don’t physically abandon their burgeoning families still fail to interact with any degree of emotional openness. When we are around that much emotional overflow, we can’t help but be affected by it. If we aren’t ready to let their unstoppable energy pervade us – breaking that defensive shell we’ve worked so... Read the full thing

Bringing Back the Family Unit

Send him mail. “Insight for the Young and Unrestrained” is an original column appearing every Thursday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Gregory V. Diehl. Gregory is a writer, musician, educator, and coach for young people at EnabledYouth.com. Archived columns can be found here. IYU-only RSS feed available here. Throughout human history, the family has been the basic unit of society. It is my firm belief that altering the way families interact, and the way that children are raised and educated will create long-term ripple effects which may ultimately change the fabric of societies and nations as we have always known them.You don’t have to be a parent or an expert on the biological aspects of human development to know that there is a human nature inherent to us all. We all have certain needs that must be fulfilled during our childhood and teenage years – needs that if left neglected can cause irreparable harm for the remainder of our adult lives. The introduction of positive parenting techniques to places where they are unfamiliar is the surest path to improving the whole of society. Parenting styles popular in different parts of the world have very clear correlations to the personality traits the adults in the area eventually come to embody. Cultures which encourage parents not to physically interact with their children and to treat them as pieces of property are made up of adults who are emotionally disconnected from each other and have no real sense of self-worth. Countries which emphasize the swearing of allegiance to something large, external, and incomprehensible to the mind of a child are inhabited by adults with no real sense of direction – and no personal ambition to act upon. Children who are forced to learn what other people consider important develop into adults who abhor education and following their own values. Girls who are abandoned or mistreated by their fathers either seek meaningless sex and abuse from men to fill the void or may remain estranged from men altogether. All of these personal problems can be avoided and healthy balanced adulthood achieved if only we, the adults currently inhabiting the world, have the courage and perspective to recognize how our own flaws prevent us from being the best possible mentors and raising healthy children. If we lack this introspection, it is inevitable that we will go on to repeat the mistakes that were done to us when we were younger. We are doomed to stay stuck in this endless loop until either enough adults take it upon themselves to change the way they rear their children or our species forever destroys itself. Better parenting is the seed which eventually stems into every aspect of a better world. Everywhere I go, I find individuals who stick out above and beyond what their cultures demand of them. Many of the most important thinkers throughout history have been the weirdos and outcasts. It is my long-term mission in life to ensure that there are always avenues available to the gifted... Read the full thing

Minds Against Progress

Send him mail. “Insight for the Young and Unrestrained” is an original column appearing every Thursday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Gregory V. Diehl. Gregory is a writer, musician, educator, and coach for young people at EnabledYouth.com. Archived columns can be found here. IYU-only RSS feed available here. It’s important to always defend ourselves and those we love from potentially dangerous foreign concepts and people. But it’s also crucial for our own growth and the betterment of those around us that we never lose hope in the goodness contained in people, ideas, and practices outside our current understanding. The loss of this hope is what eventually leads to the withering of anything which can be referred to as a human spirit. We must guard ourselves carefully against listening to that little voice which is, by default, frightful of circumstances it does not understand, or new experiences contrary to previous experience. It is implicitly believed that if our previous experience is always a reliable indicator for future events that we see ourselves as having already experienced everything reality has to offer. This is arrogance in the highest regard. There will always be infinitely greater things that could happen in the future than have happened in the past. Perhaps, for this reason, it is people with the greatest amount of future remaining ahead of them and eagerness to explore this future that should be given credence and authority in a world of constantly shifting conditions. The Immeasurable Value of Social Entrepreneurs This is why we all owe an immeasurable debt of gratitude to the innovators and entrepreneurs of the past and present. An entrepreneur is anyone who innovates a new way of doing things, or who builds bridges and structures for new cultural habits to emerge. This can mean improving upon an old system, constructing a new one entirely, or something in between. Though the term is usually applied to the world of business, it’s just as appropriate elsewhere. A lifestyle entrepreneur, for example, is someone who succeeds in creating a lifestyle totally different than the people around him, or what he had been exposed to previously. A parenting entrepreneur is someone who figures out a progressive new way to interact with their children, in spite of local conventional behavior. An educational entrepreneur changes the way he teaches to fit the results he receives, ignoring standard methodology and curriculum. These literal and figurative bridge builders are almost always met with the greatest of resistance when initially attempting to redirect the flow of humanity’s river. We have to learn to recognize the value of their different takes on life, even when they show up in unconventional and seemingly weird ways. Everything that is common practice now was once weird in its inception. Everything that is safe and established was once dangerous and new. There are no exceptions to progress. Overcoming Fear of the Unusual So the next time a stranger, a friend, a child, or a famous person tries a totally new approach to an... Read the full thing

The Many Ways You Program Your Children

Send him mail. “Insight for the Young and Unrestrained” is an original column appearing every Thursday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Gregory V. Diehl. Gregory is a writer, musician, educator, and coach for young people at EnabledYouth.com. Archived columns can be found here. IYU-only RSS feed available here. Nobody needs to be told that raising a child from birth is going to be a helluva job. For starters, you’ve got to keep them alive, which is not always as easy as it sounds. Then, you’ve got to teach them the information relevant to keeping themselves alive (or risk perpetual dependence on you or someone else). But there’s another factor of parenting. By raising a child, you are literally programming how it emotionally interprets the world. You are determining to a very large degree if he will become the type of person who reacts with fear and anxiety to situations he should be totally comfortable with. You are a major influencing factor on whether they will be nice to a fault, or an overall anti-social jerk. It is because of you that they will either be able to experience the entirety of the spectrum of human emotion, or experience none of it at all.The Two Types of Parenting It seems like most parents believe in taking either one extreme or another when it comes to parenting: either totally laid-back, hands-off, and even negligent, or an almost obsessive level of interest and control over what their kids do. We live in an age of hyper-parenting, and if the parents don’t do it themselves they hire a school to do it for them. Parents who take this approach have their hearts in the right place. They just don’t trust that children will grow up right without constant intervention in their development. They don’t really seem to trust the natural process of human growth. Their fears are not without warrant. We live in a very unnatural world, and that really takes a toll on children. But there’s a limit that is quickly reached if too much pressure is put on children to correct the destructive impact of the world. It should be a major priority for every loving parent to find where this balance is in their relationships, and then develop the patience and emotional skills needed to act on it daily. When to Yell Being around children or teenagers can require patience, but this doesn’t mean embracing total pacifism or emotional neutrality. It just means knowing when it is warranted to use anger to influence a child’s behavior. Anger, like any other emotion, is merely a tool in your box as a human being. Most parents will unconsciously choose to use anger in every occasion that a child does something they don’t approve of. This is like using a hammer to dust the fine china. In most cases where a child’s behavior rightfully requires correcting, there really isn’t any pressing sense of urgency. Think about it. When is the situation ever really urgent? Basically only... Read the full thing

The Importance of Constant Struggle

Send him mail. “Insight for the Young and Unrestrained” is an original column appearing every Thursday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Gregory V. Diehl. Gregory is a writer, musician, educator, and coach for young people at EnabledYouth.com. Archived columns can be found here. IYU-only RSS feed available here. Youth is the time in our lives we are allotted to figure out how the world around us works. During those important first decades of life, we move from a purely instinctual response-based existence to memorizing the rules of the culture around us and ingraining the physical tasks necessary for survival into our bodies. Upon reaching adulthood, we spend the rest of our lives acting on this information and making a life for ourselves. The downside to having a firm position on how things work and the practices we grew up with is that it automatically makes the other views and practices we encounter difficult to integrate. This is part of why children are so good at learning things. They have little else to get in the way of adopting new ideas. Instead of comparing the new with the old and letting them compete for mental real estate, they simply take it all in with novelty and excitement. The sooner this process ceases in us, the sooner we start to see the symptoms of being “old.” It’s like the mind has an automatic shut-off sequence that activates whenever we convince ourselves that we already know enough to get by. When we find new ways to challenge ourselves, we circumvent this process of debilitation. Constantly introducing new technologies (which force us to think in new ways) or living in foreign cultures (which force us to interact with others in new ways) remind the mind of how little it really knows. Aside from keeping us humble, it retains that childlike state of growth and wonder that are natural in early life. It makes a state of wonder a daily living reality. It’s widely recommended that as people get older they take up new hobbies that challenge the mind. Crossword puzzles, golfing, or even just taking a different route home from work are said to invigorate the mind and keep it fresh. These tactics may offer little boosts of vitality to a solidifying personality, but they hardly scratch the surface of the malleability of the human mind. What if you lived your life in such a way that every birthday you celebrated brought an almost entirely new identity for you from the year prior? Not only would your mind never solidify, but you would really start to see the cumulative capacity of learning as these new identities stacked upon each other over time. The mark of a leader is in how well he understands this and applies it to himself. Average people spend their time and resources maintaining their possessions and finding new distractions. Exceptional people invest their lives in growing and pushing every boundary they encounter. When an obstacle arises along the path to their goal,... Read the full thing

Ending Adversarial Parent-Child Relationships

Send him mail. “Insight for the Young and Unrestrained” is an original column appearing every Thursday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Gregory V. Diehl. Gregory is a writer, musician, educator, and coach for young people at EnabledYouth.com. Archived columns can be found here. IYU-only RSS feed available here. Let’s face it: odds are pretty good that the world isn’t doing a very good job of preparing your kids to make their way through it. Young people today likely feel more lost and misdirected about their emotions, identity, and lifestyle choices than any other generation in history. The world is changing so fast that it can be exhausting to try to keep up with it. This is why it is so important to develop awareness and self-discipline early on in life. Healthy relationships with children ultimately depend upon being able to see the world from their points of view. Dysfunction at home stems from a lack of proper empathy and communication. Parents see the world in a very different way than their kids do. This is completely necessary for helping raise and guide them from your many years of experience, but it leaves a major separation between your mind and theirs. This separation is why so many children do not see their parents as someone they really trust and like. These children see their parents, at best, as necessary evils who feed them at the cost of imposing restrictions. It shouldn’t be a struggle for control or a contest for superiority. It’s about developing the openness to see the world through each other’s eyes and treat each other with the respect you both deserve. This is the foundation to lifelong happy family relationships. If you are open to it, you’ll find that your kids have just as much to teach you as you do them. Many adults lack the ability to think like children. Instead of guiding kids to find the right answers and make their own progress, they project their own “superior” mentality and experience. They don’t even recognize young people as independent volitional beings. They try to raise children as if they were dogs that needed training. There is no topic too dark or scary to cover in good parenting. Young men need an older influence they can look up to. They need someone who has traveled a similar journey to them and overcome similar hardships. They need a nurturing mother who demonstrates and teaches the power of feminine strength. Young women need an example of a caring masculine figure who can give them the perspective and guidance of a battle-hardened hero. They will need an experienced female to see how they can be soft and vulnerable but voracious and powerful at the same time. These are fundamental factors in healthy human development. The world is not ready to give children everything they need for healthy emotional development. Many of these children act out and create problems for themselves. Gifted and unusual children consistently find the social resources available to them... Read the full thing

The Next School

Send him mail. “Insight for the Young and Unrestrained” is an original column appearing every Thursday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Gregory V. Diehl. Gregory is a writer, musician, educator, and coach for young people at EnabledYouth.com. Archived columns can be found here. IYU-only RSS feed available here. Education is the process through which an individual mind gains understanding of principles of change, or cause and effect relationships in reality. This differs from training, which is usually just the presentation of conclusions derived from understanding these principles. Education is foremost about gaining an understanding of a system of correlated information. Training is foremost about how to apply information. To put it one way: Training is memorizing the fact that the earth revolves around the sun. Education is understanding the laws of planetary motion which allow you to arrive at that fact. Consider a mechanic who understands the principles of combustion and the construction of the engine which makes the car work compared to the driver who only needs to know how to turn the steering wheel and which pedal makes it stop. Or the difference between a music theorist and a musical performer. One intimately understands the mathematics and tonal relationships of harmony; the other can follow instructions on command and produce intended notes at the right time on a given instrument. In fact, at some point in history, the terms “musician” and “musical performer” carried these similar but distinct meanings respectively. Much of what is typically called “education” around the world is actually just training in a specific set of skills or cultural values. For example, if you look what is called “religious education,” it usually amounts to little more than training a child or recent convert in how to speak, dress, pray, and act in accordance with that religion’s list of rules and values. Rarely is there any real education on major cosmological principles of change. Or consider the concept of etiquette. It is training to condition a child to shake a stranger’s hand when they meet for the first time, or to tuck in their shirt at a formal occasional. While these practices certainly serve their purposes, most are totally arbitrary and esoteric. Training to perform a task is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. It’s a necessary part of navigating the modern world with its constantly shifting technologies and methodologies. The problem comes when training replaces education. The majority of educational institutions around the world specialize in teaching children how to act, not how to think. This creates adults who lack character, ambition, intellectual integrity, and an ever-expanding sense of identity. Another thing to consider is… It should come as no surprise that learning is not strictly an intellectual process. The ability to learn is dependent upon a student’s level of curiosity, patience, dedication, and sense of self-worth. These are all powerful emotional forces which cannot be neglected and ignored if true education is to be accomplished. Under natural settings, it would be the duty of... Read the full thing

The Universal Social Problem

Send him mail. “Insight for the Young and Unrestrained” is an original weekly column appearing every Thursday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Gregory V. Diehl. Gregory is a writer, musician, educator, and coach for young people at EnabledYouth.com. Archived columns can be found here. IYU-only RSS feed available here. There is a social problem which affects every person born on this planet. It is the mental phenomenon called culture. It shapes us from birth. It determines how we will interpret information and stimulation throughout our lives. The influences we grow up with stick with us for a long time, and they can be difficult to alter, erase, or add to later in life. Most people grow incapable of seeing the world in terms other than the ones under which they were raised. Part of what makes childhood so magical and amazing to hardened adults is the overwhelming amount of curiosity and enthusiasm for new adventure children typically hold. Most older people have long lost this inherent drive toward new things. People feel threatened by it, and will take great measures to diminish it in their children. This is the danger that lies in parenting, education, and culture itself. Every bit of influence an adult has upon a child is potentially very powerful, and it may stay with them for the rest of their lives, for better or for worse. Culture exists for a reason, of course. Generations spent living under roughly the same conditions will develop patterns of action based upon their experiences, which become tradition, and are passed on during the childhood of the latest progeny. Culture is the software installed into the minds of budding young processors so that they will be well-equipped with the acquired knowledge of ancestors to handle the challenges of living in one time and place. The world is changing faster than it ever did before. Because we can now travel to and access information from new environments faster than our ancestors ever could have imagined, the lessons of the past are no longer necessarily relevant. Yet, they persist. Pride, intellectual rigidity, and an insatiable urge to spread our ideas to others mean that the modern world is now a battlefield of warring practices and beliefs. Many of these practices are found to have an underlying objective nature to them, and the universally true principles which form them make up our scientific understanding of reality. Other ideas persist only because of the exceptional marketing abilities of the people who endorse them. As intelligent adults tasked with the upbringing of children (whom are blank slates to the cultures and practices of the world) we have to decide what ideas we will introduce into their minds. If we are going to be responsible about it, we have to always remain open to the possibility that the way we do things or interpret events is not the best way to show our kids. We do these things because we love them and want them to benefit from our knowledge,... Read the full thing

How to Construct a Cold, Dead Society

Send him mail. “Insight for the Young and Unrestrained” is an original weekly column appearing every Thursday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Gregory V. Diehl. Gregory is a writer, musician, educator, and coach for young people at EnabledYouth.com. Archived columns can be found here. IYU-only RSS feed available here. Don’t touch your kids. What I mean is, have as little physical contact with them as possible in their formative years. This will prevent them from developing any kind of meaningful connection to you, such as learning to recognize you as their guardians, protectors, and emotional supports when things go wrong. It will help create a nagging sense of loneliness and inability to rely on anyone else for anything beyond superficial daily task management. It’s the single most effective way to emotionally neuter a human being, short of neurosurgery. Never showing affection through touch has the additional benefit of making a developing man or woman totally insecure about forming romantic bonds with members of the opposite sex. If you don’t want your daughter to get knocked up by some young hooligan, simply make sure the concept of safe masculine care and attention is completely unknown to her. If she ever does engage in intercourse, it will probably be brief and unfulfilling because she has no idea how to be emotionally vulnerable under such extreme conditions with a man. She can then pass along this general malaise of ignorance over her own body to her daughter one day. She may, however, just turn down the opposite path and come to see sex as totally casual and meaningless. Since prostitution tends to be prevalent in emotionally depraved societies, she can even make a lucrative profession out of her inability to feel (at least until she passes her physical prime in a few years time). Maybe some fragile part of her will survive and seek whatever male attention she can get from casual sexual encounters and subservience to a man. Of course, even children raised by the coldest and deadest parents still have a sliver of a chance of accidently stumbling upon true humanity if left to their own devices for too long. The best way to prevent this is simply to never let them be left on their own. Make sure they attend a school with long hours and repetitive droning of erroneous information. Keep your society as much of a closed system as possible. Information should only recirculate within your culture’s boundaries, and rarely should you seek input from places where people think differently than you do. Your kids should be just like you. Encourage the upholding of cultural tradition as the highest good a person can achieve. To perpetuate the past is to halt progress, so tradition succeeds in stopping anything from progressing or changing too quickly. Keep your kids in technological darkness. Only make use of as much modern technology and innovation as is necessary to maintain the existence you’ve already been raised with. Remember, if it was good enough for generations... Read the full thing