Re: virus: Coercion (was: re: The Battle of/for Ideas)

James Veverka (
Thu, 13 May 1999 07:57:44 -0400 (EDT)

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Bravo Prof Tim!!!

I had the experience of co habing with a woman that set NO boundaries for her child. I said goodbye baby!!!! Lost my mind!

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Message-ID: <059a01be9d07$69f13560$6ea1bfce@proftim> From: "Tim Rhodes" <> To: "Church of Virus" <> Subject: virus: Coercion (was: re: The Battle of/for Ideas) Date: Wed, 12 May 1999 23:10:23 -0700
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(This response got long so I moved it onto a new thread)

Eric wrote:

>As to feeling bad being an "essential part of our internal feedback
>loop", I couldn't disagree more.

Well, I was actually referring more to the conditional "If I'm wrong..." But I take you're meaning.

>I think feeling bad is an
>unnecessary side effect of intellectual development -- a coercion
>induced irrationality which is entirely unnecessary to the process.
>Perhaps I'm being "hopelessly optimistic", but can you tell me *why*
>we need to feel this pain you seem so intent on advocating?

I have several close friends that seem possessed with the <Let's make babies!> meme right now (and it is a meme--spreads just like one at least) so I've been able to observe a lot of very early childhood development up close over the last couple years and frankly I think your thoughts on "coercion" are dead wrong and terribly misinformed.

I've watched two children, girls (nieces that share 25% of the same genes) born four months apart, one raised "without coercion" and often placated. The other, told straight-up where the boundaries where and when her shit was not going to be tolerated (never in those exact terms, of course, but still without compromise). Of the two, one is a turning into a well-adjusted independent individual that is actively exploring her environment and the other cannot function more than 20' from mommy (or at least would have you believe that) and shies from new contacts in favor of the people she already knows how to manipulate (mommy).

And which is which? Well it's not the way you would imply at all. The child that was treated with a firm hand (even if it made her cry the first few times she was simply told "No"), whose bedtime was set rather than negotiated, is the one that is growing into a healthy child. While it's apparent the other one is going to have some serious "issue" down the road.

Now I could chalk it up to the differences in their personalities if not for the fact that I get to watch their interaction with their parents and see the patterns of reward and re-enforcement being created before my very eyes. If you've ever spent a lot (or maybe even just a little) time around kids you'll know that they are the better manipulators than any con man--it's part of their exploration of their world and the adults make up a vast majority of that world. The parent that is raising their child without coercion is (in this case at least) inadvertently teaching their child how to be a master of coercion herself.

I know you won't agree with all this. But can I ask, did the meme you hold in this regard find favor with you through your observation of real world events involving the raising of actual children from childhood or through theoretical discussions about what was "right" when raising a child and the observations of grown adults about how they wish they'd been treated when they were children?

-Prof. Tim