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“One Voluntaryist’s Perspective” is an original column appearing most Mondays at Everything-Voluntary.com, by the founder and editor Skyler J. Collins. Archived columns can be found here. OVP-only RSS feed available here.
As parents, our primary instinct and first duty is the protection of our children. Because we love them, we feed them when they are hungry, shelter them, clothe them, and otherwise provide for their material needs all in an effort to protect them from what would befall them otherwise. Their needs go beyond the material, however, and so must our protection. Our children need to feel and trust that we as their parents will do everything in our power to protect them until the day that they are able, and just as importantly, desire, to protect themselves. Here’re a few things that I, in my limited experience, have found give my children ample protection from the monsters that would hurt them.
Monsters Under the Bed
While there may not be monsters under the bed today for those privileged enough to live in the developed world, there was a time when the monsters under the bed were quite real. If a parent did not keep his children close to him in the dark, they just might fall prey to any number of predators looking for a tasty meal. Throughout our evolution as a species, parents sleeping with their children was natural and normal. Young children quite rationally protest sleeping on their own. It’s their instinct for survival. The non-protesting baby or child would be forgotten, and then gobbled. Meeting our children’s need for protection in the dark is quite simple: sleep with your children. Put all of your beds together in one room and make sleep a family activity. I’m sure you’re wondering just how you and your spouse will be able to maintain your intimacy. I say, where there’s a will, there’s a way. You’ll no doubt discover all sorts of amazing times and places to be intimate with your lover, and you’ll probably get more exercise while you’re at it, too.
Don’t You be the Monster
Now that your children are assured that there are no monsters under the bed, and confident that if there are you are close enough to take care of them, don’t betray that assurance by becoming the monster they so fear. Children are small and weak, their parents big and strong. It’s too easy to stand over them, snarling and shouting, because you feel angry over something they’ve done. Some advice: don’t do that. No matter what’s happened, or happening, trying to settle it while angry will only have you coming across as a monster. Put yourself in time-out, away from your children, and come to your senses. Think about how you want to approach your children remembering that you are their protector, their guardian from monsters. If you become the monster, you will destroy their trust in you. You will sow the seeds of resentment and rebellion. You will lose any influence you have on their behavior as they grow up.
Teach Them to Recognize Monsters
Those who would try to dominate or subjugate your children should be rightly seen as monsters. You won’t always be around to fight them off, but the cost of their monstrosity doesn’t have to be low. If your children grow up in a culture of self-ownership and private property, they will learn self-respect and the value of their own lives. In other words, they will be confident in the knowledge that nobody else has a right to handle them or their stuff without their permission. If someone tries to, your children will instinctually offer them resistance, which can be quite costly for monsters. If parents teach their children that their bodies and what they’ve acquired throughout their lives are theirs and theirs alone, and that nobody else, not even mom and dad, have the right to handle them against their will, they will grow up able to recognize the monsters who try. Because their self-ownership and properties rights are respected by those closest to them, they will quickly develop a personal culture of protection for themselves and their things. They will thus be better prepared for life away from you.
My wife and I sleep with our children, try our hardest not to be monsters, and work to build up a culture of self-ownership and private property among our children. When I do slip into monster-mode, both of my children are quick and eager to fight back. They’ve made me so proud the times they’ve rightly resisted my attacks. I would not have it any other way, have them cower before me, to cower before anyone bent on dominating them. They have learned the value of their own lives and will continue developing that personal culture of protection for themselves. That gives me peace of mind.