On Parenting: The Necessity of Reason

If you have the misfortune to be raised by an unreasonable parent who refuses to compromise, to concede and to change their mind, regardless of the strength of one’s arguments or the pleasure doing so would bring you – and who forces compliance through threats of physical punishment or general aggression – then arguing and speaking one’s mind becomes futile. This renders arguing from reason worthless and expressing one’s self a waste of time. But this is a great tragedy because reason is of immense worth and being your self is the way time must be spent in order to flourish as a human being. A refusal to use reason, to use the mind, is a commitment to the use of force because there is no other alternative. And force obliterates the individual. Without reason there is no self.

If there is no point in expressing one’s self, then the urge to continue to develop a self to express lessens significantly. The pull of all the things that once naturally drew your fascination weakens and you begin to float in the space in between having slipped free of their gravity. This void seems a sensible place to be, but there’s a part of your mind that continues to crave direction and pursuit, exploration and experimentation, knowledge and competence. It wants paths to travel. It refuses stagnation and its protestations at your inertia interrupt your thoughts on a daily basis. This internal struggle affects concentration, causes discontent and anxiety, and will eventually lead to depression that may last a life time.

Parents: I implore you! Be reasonable. Don’t just “spare the rod”, burn the damn thing and send it to hell where it belongs. Always be prepared to compromise, to concede, to negotiate. If the thought of compromise or admitting you are wrong feels like branding the word ‘failure’ on your forehead with a hot iron, then for goodness sake at the very least explain this to your loved ones (and then seek therapy). This is absolutely essential because without understanding there can be no intimacy and without intimacy there can be no genuine love – only hollow hugs and uncomfortable silences.

The mind is a closed book. It must read itself aloud for its story to be understood.

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