9.01.2006

Open Authority

I've been thinking about parenting and authority of late.

Ben has started pitching fits when he doesn't get his own way. The worst is when he wants to be carried around as I kick a ball around the house. He is obsessed with it for whatever reason. I used to do it when he couldn't walk so I guess he's just used to that being the way things are done. But his appetite for it is insatiable, so much so that when I stop, as I inevitably must at some point, he goes ballistic. He will shriek, cry, kneel on the floor and touch his forehead to the floor, stamp his feet (which is actually kinda cute because it's almost a cliché; but I guess it's a cliché for a reason), throw objects and so on.

My thoughts turn to the age when I have to explain reasons for my decisions. Whether or not too much explaination undermines my authority, especially at a young age. The "because I said so" card is tricky to play. Abuse of it can become habitual but you also don't want to sound like your negotiating with your child. But as they age, you have to slowly delegate responsibility to them, let them learn to handle it and make their own mistakes or they end up too coddled and stunted, too unprepared for their own lives. Also, they are able to understand your reasons as they get older. Not necessarily agree with them but insight into rationale is at least useful and verbalizing it might serve as a check against sloppy, lazy and mindless parenting. Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. Perhaps this age never appears. Perhaps parenting will end up being nothing more than drawing lines in the sand over and over again. That's a sad thought.

In any case, my train of thought took me to the openness of a government, about how an open government is the only true check against tyranny. I frankly despair about the situation in the US where the executive branch is overextending its power, the legislative branch fell asleep at the wheel and the judicial branch is painted as "activist" when exercising its function as a check. It feels as though one of the most open governments in the world is slowly pulling down its blinds.

A parent saying "because I said so" is one thing but when your government is saying it, it's an entirely different matter.