How much attention is too much?

We recently had our second child. Watching her and our first tells us that we made a couple of mistakes with our first child. Not major mistakes mind you. Just little ones. When our first was a little bubs we were incredibly attentive to her. We never let her cry out for particularly long. Always entertained her. Reflecting on it I’m starting to wonder how much attention is too much? When do you reach the point where you are just spoiling your child?

This winter holiday I spent a lot of time with my two daughters and noticed a few things. For one thing I noticed that when I am around my daughter wants my entire attention all the time. I don’t mind as my girl is a lot of fun to play with but it does make me think. Our early obsessive attentiveness to her needs have led to a few positives and negatives. We have a little girl who loves us dearly and loves a good laugh. Another bonus that I’m sure is derived from the way we treated her is that she is an excellent big sister. She gives our second one a lot of hugs and often wants to feed her or help us change her nappy. Since she is copying our behaviour this must reflect on how we treat her. The downside though is our little girl is very dependent on us. She isn’t good at playing by herself. When we are around she expects that same amount of attention we gave her when she was a baby. Due to this I am unable to give our second one much attention. Fortunately this seems to have had a very positive effect on our second little one. She plays on her own for an hour or two without grumbling and she doesn’t need many hugs. She definitely gets more mum time than dad time. The first is my little girl and the second is mummy’s little girl. In a strange way I feel like it’s a bit of a social experiment.

A baby is a blank slate

The thing that I have noticed most since having a child is that humans really are blank slates.  We have no instinct whatsoever.  This is so that we can adapt to any society that humanity makes.  We could be living in the worst imaginable society and we would adapt to it and even justify its existence to others.  That also means we could be living in the best possible society.  Society is what we make it.  It’s ridiculous that so much of our society is based on what has come before us.    That we do things because that is the way it’s always been done.  This is the worst excuse to do anything because it means we are doing it without thought or reason.  People even talk about human instinct as if it exists.  If we have an instinct it is to adapt to whatever society we are in.  That’s all.  Humans aren’t greedy we are born in a society that prizes greed so we become greedy.  Whatever we teach our children, whatever our society teaches the next generation is what society becomes.  With that in mind we can build a better society.

Expectations and Assumptions

What we expect to happen and what does happen can often conflict especially when dealing with other people.  We will often expect people to do or say certain things and then be annoyed or frustrated when those expectations aren’t met.  The problem lies not in our expectations but whether or not we have communicated those expectations.  If an expectation isn’t know then communication will break down.  We should never assume that what we expect of someone is known.  To draw on a classroom analogy it would be just like me yelling at a student for using a pencil without every specifying that I only wanted students to use pens.  That students reaction would just be confusion and disgruntlement.  Instead of acknowledging that they did the wrong thing they would challenge you for never saying that you expected that of them.  There are some things that we can assume people know without us saying.  If instead the student had not been doing the work and I yelled at them for that without ever specifying that I wanted them to do work in my class the student wouldn’t be confused about why they were in trouble and accept it.  Thus we need to understand what we expect and which expectations are commonly known and which ones aren’t.  Assumptions will just lead to miscommunication especially if we are assuming what other people know.

In the moment but out of the moment

Some people say you should live life in the moment.  It’s bad advice really because sometimes the moment sucks and if you are only in the moment then you can’t see any time when it isn’t sucking.  Of course when those people say live life in the moment they usually mean to find whatever happiness there is in each moment and not worry about the future or the past.  I am often living in the moment but sometimes the moment isn’t working out.  Sometimes the moment drags on for a week and I wonder when the next moment is coming.

All this made me realise something though.  Sometimes you get so caught up in the moment that it causes you more harm then any good.  It’s good to get that bigger picture every now and then if not all the time.  Being in the bigger picture is just as important as being in the moment.  Look at the big picture and see where your life is heading, plan out the path you want to get that will lead you to your goals and then jump into the moment of living and enjoying your life.  It’s important to be in the moment but out of the moment at the same time.

Parental Support in an Ideal World

One of the hardest parts of my day is going to work.  This isn’t because of work though.  It’s the hardest part because I have to leave my daughter behind.  Both my wife and I work meaning that at one point during the day we have to leave our daughter at day care.  While this is a reasonable solution its not the best case scenario for my daughter.  The best case scenario would be for both her parents to be with her full time.  She loves us both and her happiest times are when she is with the two of us.  This blog is about what society and the government should do for parents to create an optimum world.

My proposal is simple.  When you are having a child you should be given two years paid parental care to look after your child full time without worrying about money or work.  This may sound impossible but it’s not at all.  The whole thing would need paper work of course to ensure that the child is getting the care the service is providing and not just paying a drunk or gambling addict a living in wage.  There would need to be checks and measures the whole way through the process.  Most importantly though there would need to be advance parental education and counseling throughout the process.  During pregnancy or while awaiting the adoption papers future parent/s would sign up for the parental leave support network.  They’d begin parental education and for the next two years be full time parent/s.  After all we are already full time parents we should be recognised as such.  This programme would need far more than the baby bonus or parental pay that is in use at the moment.  Parent/s would need enough money so that feel comfortable but not enough to bring the government to its knees financially.  This money would have to come from taxes but given what the tax is for I’m sure there wouldn’t be much to complaint about it.

Possible arguments against this policy; it would create professional parents; the sheer amount of money it would cost.  it would destroy the day care industry; it would result in a population boom.  Starting with the first argument I would say that this isn’t such a problem if they are good parents.  After all, the reason for such a policy change would be to better educate and care for our children thus creating a better future.  However, if this is really such an issue in getting this kind of policy through then it can be limited to the first two babies and everyone after that is on your own time and money.  The second issue I have partly covered.  Money can always be found.  There are numerous ways enough money could be generated for this; have companies fund part of it; higher taxes; implement a mining tax, a fast food tax, commercial support, fundraising, funding cuts to the military, etc.  The third issue with the policy isn’t really an issue.  After all it is a small price to pay for a better world.  People in those professions can still be utilised though.  Parents would still need breaks.  Day care would just turn into a few hours care.  The need would still be there just the format would change.  There would also need to be people to teach the parenting education modules so a new industry would arise.  The final problem, that of the population boom. While it may create a temporary population boom the increase in focus on educating parents would eventually result in the population plateauing as educated people tend not to have so many children.  People would want to do other things with their lives.

So that’s my proposal.  A two year full time parental leave from work supported by the government and the people.  It would improve our society in more ways than I can imagine.

Death and the future

Some Philosophy

Recently I was talking with my sister about the future of humanity.  I have always felt that we must do what we can for the future of humanity.  It is a major driving force for me though most of what I can do for the future of humanity is think, talk and write.  My sister’s response was that while she agreed with me after she dies she won’t care.  This logic is flawless.  Whether you are religious or not there is still a sense that once you die nothing matters.  Those who believe in a heaven usually believe it as a separate place.  Atheists believe you cease to be.  While there are other beliefs that suggest after death you just come back to Earth and go again.  Those beliefs also say that you as a conscious being won’t continue on.  Regardless I will die and it won’t matter is a prevalent belief throughout humanity.  It is also a detrimental thought to the future of humanity.

Humans tend to think of themselves outside of the collective humanity.  We do what we want for ourselves.  However every human is part of humanity.  What we think and feel and do reflects the greater whole of humanity.  If we are all going around saying I will die and it won’t matter then the future of humanity will ultimately die and it won’t matter.  We need to get over our own death and start thinking about the immortality of humanity rather than the mortality of humans.  Our fixation with death will be the death of us.