08 October 2008

Parenting, Politics, and Manipulation

One of our first parenting books was a great little volumne called How to Con your Kid. It offers many toddler-survival tactics, my favourite being the offer-a-choice trick.

Yesterday, I was encouraging my daughter (age 2) to get into her stroller so we might go collect her brother at school.

ConanInto your stroller, sweetie-pie
DaughterI don't want to go into the stroller, I want to walk!
ConanShould I fasten the straps, or do you want to do it?
DaughterI want to do it.
ConanHmm. Well, just this once, ok? Sit down and you can strap yourself in.

And in she hops. This technique is so effective it feels like manipulation bordering on unethical. But if the only alternative is physical coercion, it's not so bad. Fortunately (or otherwise), the child eventually learns countermeasures, and it's much less effective by age 4. But by that age dialogue and mutual understanding largely replace the need for coercion.

Then I noticed an eerily parallel conversation going on the other side of the Atlantic:

Uncle SamMore war, more global warming, more bailouts for rich people, more oppression for the poor.
The PeopleNo, we want transparent, open and fair government!
Uncle SamReplublican or Democrat?
The PeopleUm .. Democrat, this time, please
Uncle SameHmm. Well, just this once, ok?

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