Chapter Two (11 Pages)
As for the fable, that we are born a blank slate, increasing scientific research today is showing that our “slates” are only partially blank at birth. For through our genes, we are already somewhat biologically programmed. Henceforth, we are constantly at war with our unconscious and conscious selves, while we become products of our environments. Over the past 70 years at least, such programming of our unconscious level has been hacked by the media, politics, and advertising. Especially since we are storytelling animals, and whoever controls the stories being told, controls us. Whether today or tens of thousands of years ago, when we sat enthralled around the evening campfire.
Just because someone tells us something, or we see something online or on TV, until otherwise proven by facts, actions, and/or behaviour, we should take it with a grain of salt. Much like when we were young children walking around asking, why, how come, why not, and what do you mean? To do otherwise would seem something was wrong with us. But then we also continue to give people the benefit of the doubt, which is also pretty crazy. Considering this is where the predators, exploiters, and abusers hide behind. Hence, over 95 per cent of child and spousal mental, physical and sexual abuse is done by a known family member.
The one continuous mental narrative that dominates our consciousness about who we are and about the world we live in, is nothing but an endless stream of stories. These stories can be manipulated and distorted in many ways either by people we know or on a mass scale by people pulling levers behind the curtain. It’s not shameful to be deceived, because our cognitive wiring is prone to believing stories. The people that do the manipulating are the shameful ones. But we must not let shame or cognitive dissonance take away healthy skepticism of the stories told to us. And one must pay attention with as much objectivity as possible to the behaviour that goes with the story. This allows us to be aware of the false story-tellers and side-show barkers, because of the huge gap between what their words say and what their actions mean.
It has been said that by the time we are about five years old, we reach what some call a golden age of development, with the premise that what we become later has already been molded and ready to be shaped into form. While memory supposedly begins when we are about three years old. And though I don’t, some people remember snippets of this time in their lives, and remember very well, and I’m sure it is true to a certain point and all a matter of recall. But the events that shape our lives after we are five often create the biggest changes, only because, before we are five years old we have no choice. While after five years we begin to learn that life becomes about making decisions, where we have a choice. Unfortunately however, we may be apt to later forget we have such choices or are programmed to think that we do. We follow our unconscious choice, which has been altered by outside sources as already discussed, and we think it’s free will. Carl Jung (1875-1961) Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, who founded analytical psychology, put it best, “Until you make the unconscious conscious it will direct your life and you will call it fate”.
Among the different developmental psychologists who have, and do study developmental change from conception to death, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) believed that personality is formed mainly in the first six years, through unconscious processes under the influence of one’s parents, and that such personality formation is irreversible. According to Freud, the unconscious continues to influence our behaviour and experiences, even though we are unaware of these underlying influences. The unconscious can include repressed feelings, hidden memories, habits, thoughts, desires, and reactions.
Industrialist Walt Disney (1901-1966), once admitted, “I think of a child’s mind as a blank book. During the first few years of his life, much will be written on the pages. The quality of that writing will affect his life profoundly.” And he would know. Through his talent he was a master of virtue signalling, the “conspicuous expression of moral values by an individual done primarily with the intent of enhancing that person’s standing within a social group”. The term was first used in signalling theory, to describe any behaviour that could be used to signal virtue. Disney would also become very adept at subliminal messaging and the use of sexual imagery. To that end he and his brother started up Disney Brothers Studio in the early 1920’s, created Mickey Mouse in 1928, and released the movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the middle of the Great Depression. In the lead up to the US entering WW II they released Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940), Dumbo (1941), and Bambi (1942) then switched and became a government contractor, pumping out an onslaught of propaganda supporting the war machine, including military training films, and short Donald Duck cartoons to promote war bonds. And though Mickey Mouse and Snow White were to calm children, the same images were painted on many bombs, tanks and aircraft.
As well as keeping an eye on Hollywood for Herbert Hoover’s Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the seventy cigarettes a day smoking Disney continued to build a magical happy kingdom, which from birth has shaped our interests, values, relationships, and even our hopes and dreams. Molding children’s reality, and making us lifelong followers, with some of us believing that we can stay children forever. Disney’s animated films alone have shaped many generation’s morals and attitudes toward life, much of it absorbed by our subconscious. Especially when such stories are viewed many times far more than just once. And why, I must ask, is it that many, if not most, of the main characters in such animated stories are motherless.
A definite populariser of culture, some found Disney’s work to also be a “smooth facade of sentimentality and stubborn optimism, its feel-good re-write of American history”. Others have said that his vision was “of a modern corporate utopia as an extension of traditional values”. There is no doubt he was also an ingenious merchandiser, and more importantly, the central figure in the history of animation. He was so successful that even after his death; his company is still an unchecked global cultural force, because of their distracting, some say manipulative, and entertaining, “wholesome image”.
Besides their flagship of family-oriented brands, since the 1980’s, Disney has acquired other entertainment companies in order to market more mature content than they typically produced. Today, Walt Disney Studios, which includes Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Fox, Fox 2000 Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures, and Blue Sky Studios, also now owns the ABC broadcast network, the cable TV Disney Channel, ESPN, Freeform, FX, National Geographic TV, and A&E Networks. Other Disney divisions include publishing, merchandising, music, and theatre. They also have their own cruise ship line, and 14 theme parks spread around the world. Recently they debuted their own online streaming source. Many titles of their earlier, animated or otherwise, films now available, are labelled with an “outdated” (trigger) warning, due to content at the time the film was made. Such “watch with caution films”, now branded include Mickey Mouse shorts from the 1920s through the 1940s, Fantasia (1940), Swiss Family Robinson (1940, 1960), Dumbo (1941), Song of the South (1946), Peter Pan (1953), Lady and the Tramp (1955) and The Sign of Zorro (1958), The Jungle Book (1967), and The Aristocats (1970).
A student of Freud’s, Erik Erickson (1902-1994), considered personality formation to be more malleable and continues throughout life, to be influenced by friends, family and society, and gave more emphasis to social and cultural forces of development. Much like Robert Havighurst (1900-1991), who prepared a developmental model in which he presented a list of developmental tasks from birth to old age, finding every cultural group expects its members to master certain essential skills and acquire certain approved patterns of behaviour at various ages during their life span. According to him, a developmental task is “a task which arises at or about a certain period in the life of the individual, successful achievement of which leads to happiness and to success with later tasks, while failure leads to unhappiness and difficulty with later tasks”. Although most people would like to master these tasks at the appropriate time, some are unable to do so, while others are ahead of schedule.
While educator and author Stephen Covey (1932-2012) called the natural laws of growth, the maturity continuum. He argues it starts with dependence; you make me happy, you take care of me, and I blame you for any bad results. Then independence; I can do it, i am responsible, i can choose, and I am not selfish. Where one’s sense of self worth should not be determined by how one is treated or liked. And finally interdependence, when we can combine our talents and abilities and create positive, something greater than me. This the most advanced and most mature concept, when we become, “Self reliant and capable but at the same time knowing working together with others can accomplish more than one can accomplish alone. Having a great sense of self worth within oneself, but at the same time knowing the need for love, and the giving and receiving of such a thing. Intellectually knowing the rewards of sharing thinking knowledge with others. And knowing the best is when we share ourselves deeply, meaningful with others brings access to the vast resources and potential of others”.
Jean Piaget’s (1896-1980) theory of cognitive development explained how a child constructs a mental model of the world. He disagreed with the idea that intelligence was a fixed trait, and regarded cognitive development as a process which occurred due to biological maturation and interaction with the environment. Piaget believed that people of all ages developed intellectually. Piaget’s stages of development are from birth to 18-24 months old, which he called the sensorimoter stage, and all about object permanence. The preoperational stage of symbolic thought, from 2 to 7 years old, concrete operational thought from 7 to 11 years old, and the formal operational stage of abstract concepts from adolescence to adulthood. He believed that once a person reaches the formal operational stage, it’s more about building upon knowledge, not changing how it’s acquired or understood. Going with the definition of development as being “a progressive series of changes that occur in an orderly predictable pattern as a result of maturation and experience”, then the development of a human being must be a continuous process from conception to death. And although most developmental theories have been specifically concerned with children, their ultimate aim is to provide an account of development throughout the life span.
Trying to understand age-related behavioural changes, specifically in children, and although kids may develop at varying rates and in their unique way, there are standards of childhood development. In order to fully understand a child or anyone for that matter, you need to take into account their temperament, situational factors, age-related developmental stages, and whether they are in a period of balance or instability in their lives. In view of these factors, the social and emotional experiences during the first few years of life will influence health and well-being, and psychological and physical development throughout their lives.
Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, estimates that a million connections are made in the brain in the first three years of life, and that the relationship between infant and caregiver is crucial. Whether the security of balanced relationships and attachments, or the trauma of a variety of types of emotional abuse, caregiver mental illness, household violence, or poverty. Unfortunately, the vast majority of children who suffer such trauma in their earlier years do not get beyond these problems later in life. Thus, we have the present and now generational, societal problems of high incarceration rates, homelessness, drug abuse, and failure to graduate high school, owing to too many children being born to parents unprepared to provide the necessities of life, including love and attention.
Other psychologists, anthropologists and scientists from across the spectrum, from Carl Jung to Joseph Campbell to Stephen Pinker, have all shown extensive evidence of inborn psychological traits and inherent constructs within the human psyche. For example, a baby will often cry and be afraid when an animal shows its teeth, perhaps because such a reaction is inherited over the eons from a time when humans were prey. Much like a person’s IQ (intelligence quotient), which shows one’s intelligence, is most often inherited, or that while sociopaths are made through training, psychopaths, who lack empathy and any fight or flight reflex, are born that way.
Others including Dr. Bruce Lipton, believe that about 95 per cent of life is coming from the programming of our existence and experimental knowledge gained in our first seven years. And that such programming consists of downloading “normal” through the greatest forms of mind control ever created, repetition, repetition, repetition. And that under seven years of age we operate in the low-vibration frequency of consciousness, the “Theta” or imagination.
Dr. Lipton, an American developmental biologist, is best known for promoting the idea that gene expression can be influenced by environmental factors, i.e. people have a greater impact on their health than genetic research has previously determined. He argues that the Jesuits have known this for over four hundred years, as in their credo “give me your child until they are seven and I will give you a man”. Lipton also surmises that today, about five per cent of our daily lives are lived by using our conscious, which is creative, and as already noted, the other 95 per cent of our day coming from programs previously installed in our subconscious.
English theorist and often called a “human singularity of insanity” David Icke, gets it right sometimes, and believes that perception is everything, and is passed down to us from our parents. He goes on to say “Out of womb and in only five years are sat down at a desk with an authority figure standing before us, representing the state’s version of all you are taught and how to behave. Telling you when you have to be there, when you can leave, when to speak, go to the toilet, when and what to eat, what is and what isn’t. What’s possible what’s not possible and the nature of everything”. There is also religion to teach us what to believe and how to act, and of course Disney to teach us how we are supposed to feel.
While growing up is determined by variable factors and connotations, one of the most important is family. Throughout our evolutionary history the mother and father have assumed different parental roles. Mothers have always interacted with their children more than fathers. They maintain more physical contact and are more nurturing, comforting, and empathetic to the physical and emotional pains and needs of the child. This extremely intimate and close relationship with the mother-figure creates in the child a lasting emotional bond psychologist’s call, a “mother complex”. Fathers do not create this same bond of dependency with the child. Instead, their role has traditionally been to provide the developing child with resources and protection, but just as importantly with guidance. More specifically, the role of the father has been to help the child break free from their bond of dependency upon their parents and help them emerge into the world as an independent and functional adult. But unfortunately, not all fathers can supply their children with this guidance, for to do so, the father must be strong and independent himself and emotionally present in the child’s life. He must be able to show that there is something worth seeking and struggling for in this world; for to successfully encourage his daughter or son to break from the comforts of childhood, they need to be convinced there is somewhere worth going.
Family is also the bedrock of civil life. For tens of thousands of years, it has been the smallest form of government. It is where children are taught how to become adults, and knowing both a mother’s love and a father’s, are taught about responsibility, respect, honesty, empathy for others, having a work ethic, love and forgiveness, and pride of one’s country or tribe.
Unfortunately, this critical balance of human nature is currently being disrupted. We are living in an age which is hung up on the breakdown of traditional family values, and of the absent father. Yet we are all still expected to leave the comforts of home and venture out, to overcome any mother complex, welcome the opportunity to stand up for ourselves, to fail and fix our own mistakes, make decisions for ourselves, and to make a life worth living, all without the psychological support of a father. Both boys and girls are affected by not having a father, with the girls most often getting out into the world earlier than boys, and just as often then seeking a father-figure, provider and protector in a mate.
In 1959 Marie-Louis von Franz, a Swiss psychologist, gave a series of lectures on the psychology of the Puer Aeternus, Latin for “eternal child”. Her teacher, psychologist Carl Jung, had come up with the term for psychological purposes to describe an individual who suffers “Peter Pan” syndrome; he who fails to grow up. Someone who “…remains too long in adolescent psychology; that is, all those characteristics that are normal in a youth of seventeen or eighteen are continued into later life, coupled in most cases with too great a dependence on the mother.”
Many young men today are struggling academically, socially, spiritually, financially, and sexually. They are living at home into their late twenties and thirties, choosing the comforting confines of their parents’ care, video games, online porn, and fearing the unknown world of independence, and missing out on the confident high of standing on one’s own. In the past, and in many cases, the father would not have accepted such a situation. It was called being kicked out and, more than often, worked out just fine. Because the son found that the world did not end if he continued to put one step in front of the other, and that family remained, and would be there when really needed no matter how much he screwed up, as long as there was effort after admitting the error of one’s way. Above all else, many young men today are starving for responsibility, for its being taken away from them, as it is with the women, becoming brainwashed in how we should live, behave and look.
Pertaining to boys because I am one, in Under Saturn’s Shadow, James Hollis writes, “Sons also need to watch their father in the world. They need him to show them how to be in the world, how to work, how to bounce back from adversity…They need the activation of their inherent masculinity both by outer modelling and by direct affirmation.” When this doesn’t happen, Sam Osheron in his book Finding Our Fathers, discusses fatherless homes and like everything else involving cause and effect, he cites an expansive study in which only 17 per cent of American men reported having a positive relationship with their father during their youth. In the remaining cases the father was physically or emotionally absent. Today, every fourth man in Canada, the US and much of Western Europe, grew up without a father. It may be said that 25 per cent of men is no big number, and that a father’s love isn’t really needed to predict the social, emotional, and cognitive development and functioning of children and young adults. To that, studies by the US Department of Health/Census, the Center for Disease Control, the National Principles Association Reports, and others, show that in the US 63 per cent of youth who commit suicide are from fatherless homes, as well as 90 per cent of runaways and homeless youth, 85 per cent of children with behavioural issues, 80 per cent of rapists who have anger issues, 70 per cent of those who drop out of high school, 70 per cent of those in government operated institutions, and 85 per cent of all juveniles in prison. All these people, more than likely came from a fatherless home.
Children are twice as likely to be victims of abuse or neglect living without their father, while daughters of single parents without a father involved are 53 per cent more likely to marry as teenagers, 71 per cent more likely to have children as teenagers, 64 per cent more likely to have a pre-marital birth, and 92 per cent more likely to get divorced themselves. And that, adolescent girls raised in a two parent home with involved fathers, are significantly less likely to be sexually active at an earlier age than girls raised without involved fathers.
The effects of an absent father on a single mother have also been extremely disruptive to such a critical balance. The mothers often become more authoritarian to compensate for the lack of a masculine figure in the child’s life. And without the love and support of the father, the emptiness of sole parenthood often forces her to satisfy such emotional needs through her relationship with her child, perhaps even unconsciously manipulating her child into remaining dependent on her well into adulthood. They cede the title of mother to, instead, being the best of friends. Just like fathers who retreat from being a father and instead becoming buddies. The problem is compounded by the welfare states of the Western World, which are set up in such a way that it’s to a single mother’s advantage to stay single. Unable to find a man who could support her and her child, the fallback position stays with the government within a system, which brings further financial benefits with each new child.
As an adult many children (mostly men) who are still living with their mom, aren’t necessarily seeking independence or developing their consciousness but instead are possessed by what Jung called “the spirit of regression”. And if they don’t remain dependent on their biological mother, they will often seek other women who will be nurturing replacements, or else just as often succumb to the embrace of some sort of addiction.
With all that being said, the first four years of my life I had a mother and a father. After that my mother became Mom, and my father was replaced with a succession of Dad’s. And if it wasn’t for a collection of black and white, and early color photographs, I don’t remember much. But generally, during the first eighteen months of our lives we learn to take solid foods, to walk and at least babble. We also tend to put any object given or within reach, immediately into our mouth in a sort of oral fixation, and we just simply need to explore. Recently, at a Christmas dinner, my ten month old granddaughter, dressed in black leggings and an oriental style red and black dress, with a ribbon in her black spiky hair, played at my feet upon a smooth and shiny fake wood floor as I sat on the corner of a couch. She espied the lit Christmas tree, dropped to all fours and began the crawl, no doubt hoping to put one of those bright shiny things or any tinsel lying around directly into her mouth. I casually leaned over and held the back of her dress while she crawled in place for a bit. She then stopped and sat up with a quizzical look on her face, while I had already pulled back my hand and hid it. Looking around quickly, she dropped to all fours again and headed off to the shiny thing, and once again I reached over and held the back of her dress where she once again crawled in place for a little while, then stopped and sat up looking around with a face that was calm but wondering “what the ?” We did the whole routine again, but when she sat up the last time I let her see my hand holding onto the back of her dress. She looked around, having noticed my hand, took a quick glance at me with no expression on her face, nonchalantly dropped to all fours and headed off in another direction, and I got up and slowly followed. The whole time we did not acknowledge each other or say anything, other than exchanging quick glances. It was beautiful.
At an early age we also begin to establish the important understanding of object permanence; knowing that an object still exists even when you can’t see it. We must turn, push, pull and taste anything we come across. Some call these first eighteen months the age of trust and mistrust, where if the parent fulfills what the infant needs, the infant learns to trust others and develops confidence, even though at times the infant will experience moments of anxiety and rejection. If the infant fails to get needed support and care, it develops mistrust which affects the personality in later stages of life.
Dr. Louise Bates Ames, and The Gesell Institute of Human Development, describes that at roughly eighteen months of age we begin our “I’ll do it myself” stage. Where we tend to do the opposite of most instructions given by the parent, seldom obey any verbal command, use “No!” as our main word, and constantly seem to find ways to frustrate ourselves. We learn to turn light switches on and off, figure out a key turns on a car and opens the front door, but get frustrated because we can never get the key in the lock, and we like to go around turning on every faucet encountered. We must turn, push or pull anything we come across. Unfortunately, some tots will treat others like objects (as to step on, push, and hit without remorse). And while some will gladly share, others will not. Though not often followed, one word commands work best because we are still very limited in what we understand, and even though we now can use words to some extent, we are extremely immature emotionally, may affect a tantrum easily and often, but can be distracted or lured away from a forbidden object or activity. The scariest thing I find today is when a thirteen month old baby is allowed to play with someone’s “smart” phone and the intense reaction when it is taken away. Basically nuking a child’s developing brain every time one lets them play with one. And of course introducing the child to a dopamine rush. This also goes for big screen TV’s where, though I’ve never had one, whenever I am in the presence of one today, I can’t keep my eyes off of it. Parental guidance is imperative at these ages.
By our second year of life, the muscular and nervous systems have developed markedly, and we quickly acquire new skills because we are no longer content to just sit and watch. We’ve got to get our nose and hands in everything unfortunately, judgment develops more slowly. We begin to move around more and check out everything in our environment, and are able to empty drawers and cabinets of all their contents. We become more coordinated, less likely to fall, and less pre-occupied with keeping one’s balance we run and climb more easily. Better language skills, allows us to be less frustrated because we can make ourselves more easily understood. Incredibly, considering earlier in life we were not capable of waiting for anything, we can now wait a few minutes for something we want, and can even tolerate slight or temporary frustration. We may actually consider the idea of pleasing others by being loving and affectionate, though we often still cannot share, we simply give another child a substitute toy instead. And we become very adept at attaching meaning to objects with language, thinking about things symbolically where we use a word or object to represent something other than itself. But the time also represents what some have called the “terrible twos”. At this age many of us are the most violent we’ll probably ever be. And have no problems with kicking, biting, hitting, and pushing when we become angry for usually, inane and uncalled for reasons. But by four years old most of us will have been socialized, with our behaviour determined by our peer group and parents, while others stay perpetually angry for the rest of their lives.
By three years of age, we use the word yes more easily and feel more secure in our relationships with others and with ourselves. We enjoy cooperating and like the whole concept of having a friend. Our motor abilities continue to grow, and there is a marked increase and interest in vocabulary and language. We are easily influenced by exciting new words, such as “secret,” “surprise,” “different,” “guess”, and always ready to willingly engage in new adventures, still having no clue of the consequences.
Over these initial years we learn to use a toilet, the differences between sex, and sexual modesty. We also learn to distinguish right and wrong and begin to develop a conscience, memory and imagination. But the most critical issue in these first few years is a child’s feeling of independence. This stage extends from three to five years. The crisis faced during this period is one of a battle between independence and doubt, which can bring either initiative or guilt. In an extremely permissive environment, a child encounters difficulties that he or she cannot handle, and develops doubt about their abilities, especially if they are not encouraged and supported, and can develop feelings of guilt. Proper guidance is imperative, for guilt is one of the only things that prevent us from letting go of the past and moving on with life. Similarly if the control is severe, the child feels worthless and shameful of being capable of so little. The appropriate middle position, respecting the child’s needs and environmental factors, and recognizing their creative efforts in attempting to do certain activities should influence them in the future to take the initiative, which brings about a sense of independence, and the child’s willingness to try new things is either facilitated or suppressed.
In our fourth year we are able to learn about time, and can understand the past, present and future. We are also able to figure out the concept of days; today, everyday, yesterday, tomorrow, a week, a month, every morning, afternoon, evening, and can learn seasons and holidays. We are also able to understand spatial concepts: up, down, in, out, over, around, and under, and can be extremely interested in what is behind things. We should be able to count three objects, recite numbers from one to ten, and draw a person with two parts: head and legs. We love anything new, whether adventure or the need to experiment, though often, we can be less interested in completing an actual activity or talk as when beginning it, and move on quickly to the next new thing. Some frustration may occur when we are unable to understand an explanation given after someone answers one of our most well used words at that time, “why”. We don’t need to know the exact mechanics involved or how it works, we just need to know the purpose of something, the why of it. Needing to ask why so much at this age is often because the desire to understand remains, but the intellectual maturity to fully understand explanations is not yet developed.
A typical four year old can have approximately fifteen hundred vocabulary words available to them, and can become quite the conversationalist, fulfilling the need to share new found words and slowly realizing the power behind them. Many at this age learn to start a conversation, by once again, simply using their favourite word, why. And when we do talk to others everything is hugely exaggerated, a flock of Canadian geese flying overhead becomes, there were a million billion of them. Or someone was as tall as their house, or their parent was driving about seven hundred kilometres an hour on the way to the grocery store. Or as my son used to say on a hot day, at that age, “Dad, I’m sweating more than a dead dog”. Four year old’s also love to boast, about being most of anything, whether the biggest, baddest, strongest, best, happiest, smartest, prettiest, or meanest. They also love “potty” language, in my day it was words like “pooh-head”, “poop”, “kaka”, most will not dare to say piss, shit or fuck yet, but if their environment dictates it, of course, they will. Repeating words they hear on a regular basis, but having no idea what they mean. But they see the fun in the shock value of such words that upset or surprise people, especially parents. A four year old screaming “Shit!” aloud in a crowded room, you could hear a pin drop. It’s probably why I still remember all the words to Brian Hyland’s song Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie, released when I was two, and which I have sung, for effect, many times over my life, “She wore an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini, that, she wore for the first time today ….”, because at one time, I thought it was swearing and somehow getting away with it.
Many children discover at this time that sometimes the adult is not all powerful as once believed. The child learns that they can do bad things and the world will not stop. Thus adults must intervene if there is any untoward behaviour that gets out of control, because children at this age want limits, they want to know the rules and boundaries, and can understand simple directions, while responding well to praise for staying within the limits of behaviour. For my siblings and me, this was sometimes dictated by the sharp slap of a wooden spoon on our behinds or palms of our hands. Very rarely did I get two for the same offence, but then the offences varied, depending on mood.
In my day us kids were definitely not in charge, like many seem today. But it kept us in shape emotionally and physically. We knew the boundaries, which gave us greater freedom. Very rare was the one who showed disrespect for their parents. Because it was called on immediately, parents didn’t let such disrespect just slide by, but confronted the behaviour. This is not to say we weren’t allowed to be just kids, because we very much were allowed to be kids, but when it came to our behaviour with others we were expected to be respectful about it.
Family mattered, especially sitting down at dinner. Without any distractions, breaking bread together, engaging with each other, learning to listen because then you will be listened to, discussions and interactions that became fundamental to our well being and learning. The kitchen table was where many of us learned to be human. While humility and empathy began to disappear when children were told that they are more than great and absolutely amazing, will one day have a great job, and that life is all about achievement, how big a car and house one has, and how cool they look. But when that child grows up within such a culture of bloated self-esteem and finally finds out what life is all about, which in most cases only leads to a deep resentment.
Physically a four year old is full of piss and vinegar, with energy to burn and in perpetual motion. Boy’s chests puffed out and girl’s hands on their hips. We are much more coordinated than just a year ago, we love to run, skip, and climb almost anything. At the same time we are usually still not ready to be trusted around younger siblings, because we may promise to be gentle, but may not be able to follow through. Socially, most of us at this age love to play with other children, which teaches us how to play cooperatively. We become much more willing to share and take turns, and enjoy doing big projects with a group. And we like to have friends, to meet new ones, and to be seen as a friend.
Emotionally, we can go from love to hate in a heartbeat, and will “love” or “hate” certain foods, things and people. Some individuals may be possessively in love with their mother, and may hate it when she changes anything about herself, whether a new hairstyle, clothes or even friends. Another extreme is that although we love to laugh, and could get down-right hysterical about it and perhaps even pee our pants, when angry, we often will still hit, kick, scream and spit. At the same time, others nearing five can become less stressed and have less need for outlets that release tension.
At four, some may like violent stories with lots of action and demand the gory details, especially related to death, blood, guts and gore. Even though we may not yet necessarily understand that death is permanent. Our imagination becomes ever more active, and we can have trouble differentiating real from pretend. Some will even have an imaginary friend. But it is important to one’s development that when we do make up a story at this age, we shouldn’t be labelled a liar, and shouldn’t be punished for telling untruths. Any story we tell, no matter if we swear on our heart and hope to die or spit into our palm and want to shake on the idea of truth, the story must pass muster first, by having wise parents who require real evidence before believing. Our fears at four years are usually fire, the sound of sirens and yelling, the dark, wild animals, something hiding behind the curtain, in the closet or under the bed, and our mother leaving, especially while we sleep. Basically the same fears four year old’s have had for thousands of years.
As one nears five years of age, one should be able to dress and undress by themselves, and to lace one’s own shoes. And able to wash and dry our face and hands, and brush our teeth regularly. We become fascinated with bodily functions, especially what our bodies produce. One result is a fascination with bathrooms, and we start wanting privacy when using one, and spend a great deal of time inside exploring. Drawbacks at this age are that we may forget to go to the bathroom when into serious play and may need to pee at inconvenient times, such as in the middle of dinner or a movie. We also begin to get frequent colds, and may have stomach aches in certain social situations as our social worlds expand.
Understanding very well the extremes there are in parenting, such as the egocentric, impulsive, ignorant and at times, cruel and abusive actions of adults, often based on how they themselves were raised, most children do seem to reach the previously mentioned golden age in their development at around five years old. Regretfully, this doesn’t happen everywhere, with some five year old children, all they’ve known is violence and hunger, and experienced things worse than death. But for the world’s fortunate, life seems pretty good for a five year old.
We tend to be more positive than negative and often use the words “great”, “sure”, “cool”, “fine”, “why not”, “awesome”, “oh alright” and “I just love that”. We are living in the here and now. Some of us may be less adventurous and quieter by nature, and less resistant, not having to prove that we are our own bosses all the time. We are proud of our abilities, and may love to read, learn new facts and practise writing. We often become determined to do things “just right” and may even have the ability to protect ourselves from over-stimulation. While the true artists will already have some experience in their passions, whether singing, dancing, building, creating, inventing, playing an instrument, sculpting, or painting pictures.
We may be more confident and secure, because we may be able to judge what we can and cannot do, and often may ask for permission to do even simple things. We start caring more about our own room, home, street, neighbourhood, and classroom, but will often impose human feelings to inanimate objects. And though we may learn a little bit more about the concept of death, we may still think it’s reversible and be very matter-of-fact, rational and unemotional, when discussing it.
Our parents are seen as the ultimate authorities, and we develop strong feelings for family, including pets. And though we may do better with siblings, once again, we may over-estimate our abilities to care for younger children. The mother is the center of our worlds, and we want to please her and be near her and hold her hand, while the father is the provider and protector who will hug us, tuck us in, teach us practical skills, and keep us safe. I remember, while walking hand in hand with my own son and feeling so proud and confident, then came the day he didn’t want to hold my hand anymore, especially if his friends were around. I miss that.
In a perfect world, which does not exist, parents should encourage their children to be brave, instill in them the courage to become competent and self-assured, even in the most difficult scenarios, with each parent bringing their own unique strengths to the table. Where a child is taught to be responsible for their actions and words, and that one should expect to be held accountable. On many levels, we had to pick up bits and pieces as we went along and eventually figure out things on our own. Which was fine because I seem to have passed along such traits to my son, who I hope passes them on to his child. But above all else, children need reassurance that they are loved.
At five years old most of us are trying to get along well with others, but we play better with two friends rather than with three. We enjoy playing “house”, by taking on the roles of our parents. And of course we still love to climb, swing, jump, and skip, yet oddly, violence and gore may be the main themes in the made up stories that we share. When I was five years old there was no kindergarten, so the timing of when to start grade one required a lot of thought and consideration, as not all children have the needed skills to take this important step, because of different degrees of maturity, including emotional, social, physical, as well as the often more emphasized intellectual abilities.
Jean Piaget called the ages two through seven, the pre-operational stage. Where at most levels, we are egocentric, and have difficulty thinking beyond our own viewpoints. Which makes sense considering the development of language, memory, imagination, and intelligence, are both egocentric and intuitive.
From five to ten years, it’s all about developing a greater attention span, needing less sleep, and gaining strength. This may allow us to expend more effort in acquiring skills, and needing accomplishment in our lives, regardless of ability. The goal should be to develop a feeling of competence, rather than inability. The success in whatever appropriate endeavour, leads to further industrious behaviour, while failure results in development of feelings of inferiority. Over the same time span we develop the concepts necessary for everyday living, a conscience, a sense of morality, a scale of values, along with developing attitudes toward social groups and institutions and achieving personal independence. Life becomes all about peer socialization, indeed, for tens of thousands of years one of the most painful blows is to be alienated from one’s peer group. But then without peer pressure no one would become socialized. And finally, we develop appropriate masculine or feminine roles, besides those already ingrained in our DNA as a species.
Piaget also found that we may become much less egocentric during these years, with more logical and methodical manipulation of symbols, and more aware of the outside world and events. It is the time we start working things out inside our heads. This is called operational thought, and it allows kids to solve problems without physically encountering things in the real world. At the least, all the above should be developed and taught, but sadly is not. Indeed life has different roads for different folks. But it’s not rocket science, children who grow up with criticism learn to condemn, if they grow up with hostility they learn to fight, and if they grow up in fear they learn to be apprehensive.
Much later the society we are born into will dictate whether we are liberal or conservative minded. Some will grow up to be fundamentally collectivists and socialists. Believing that society as a whole is far more important than the individual, and that the actions of individuals must be strictly monitored and governed to prevent negative effects on the group. They seek centralization for all things, and follow the tenet that humans are born as blank slates. That their entire personality is a product of their environment, and that “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”. They embrace an all encompassing government, yet many deem themselves Atheists, which only leaves them “constantly feeling unfulfilled as their explanations of existence do not satisfy the innate human relationship to the metaphysical.” They also claim that gender is a social construct that must be dismantled, and that there is no such thing as evil people, only evil systems that spoil the minds of people.
On the other hand, some will grow up to be individualists, sovereignty activists and true conservatives. Believing that society should be restricted from dictating the life of the individual and that group participation should be voluntary. The group does not use a centralized model. Their credo, “Without the individual the group does not exist. The group is an abstraction created in the mind. When groups do form they should only exist to serve and protect the inherent rights of individuals, not be used as a mechanism of control by weak people who are afraid to function on their own…” Many of these people tend to have been raised religiously, often Protestant Christian, for their faith morally guides them, their families and their communities. The inherent belief is that everyone is unique and only accomplishment, hard work and merit will determine what is fair or not. They don’t believe that every aspect of life should be micro-managed, and that a person’s character is mostly inherent. And believe the vast majority of people’s gender is determined psychologically and biologically.
This separation of societal philosophies we mature into, only becomes confusing when the elite/globalist controlled pundits and media outlets get involved, and convolute and confuse. Such groups force us to decide which side we stand on or which herd we are a member of. When in fact we are both. Today the separation between liberal and conservative has ever widened with conservatives generally thinking things through and look at fact based evidence compared to the liberal side, which seems to rather “feel” issues far more than they critically examine them.
As we age, life becomes all about what happens to us, the choices we make, and the results or fallout of our decisions. But, we have freedom of choice in our response. Who we are today is the outcome of choices we made yesterday about things that happened to us, or that we have learned along the way. And though much of who we are is controlled by our genetic determinism, our psychic determinism forms by how one is raised, and where. We are conditioned to speak a certain language, eat a certain diet and follow traditions of the environment we are raised.
Did we either follow our own path by acknowledging our soul, and free will, or did we succumb to simple stimulus, with no self-determinism and simply allowed ourselves to be led by marketing practises and manufactured consent? Are we being purposely supplied a particular manufactured stimuli to achieve a desired response, like any other lab-rat? Consider, that when human populations, domesticated through regular feeding and socializing around a local watering hole grow, they are at first kept in large numbers and then divided into smaller groups according to breed and color for easy keeping. Our numbers controlled by regular culling of the unproductive or unruly, and allowing only castrated males to frolic with the females. The herd further domesticated with simple and repetitive training by use of whip, cattle prod, carrot on a stick, or a treat, then marked with a unique brand, number, tattoo, ear tag, nose ring or computer chip. While some in the herd are used to provide entertainment whether for show or sport, the rest provide food and work, and simply baa, moo or neigh, some louder than others. And of course, the herd would need to be kept heavily sedated on drugs, and kept clean with hormones and antibiotics.
My biggest fear is coming to terms with knowing in which one of these ways was I conceived or expected to participate in. Or have I simply been following inherited traits. But if I was produced through culture, what if the culture was a lie? Growing up with values, but whose values? And if they were based on lies, how did they somehow become true to me? Are we really just a product of our environment? I don’t know so lets find out.