Vidur Pandit

HR & Marketing Student, AXA Business Services

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Do you think we our programming are children right from the day they are born?

Right from the day they are born children are being told. From their name to what their religion needs to be, our kids are constantly being directed by us. As the years pass on this continues with the kind of education they need, who they should marry, what clothes they should wear, which god they should worship etc.
So what does that do to fostering creativity and innovation when as a society we are programmed to follow what we are told?

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    May 23 2011: There is still this huge societal misconception that chldren are tabula rasa. Its not surprising because many people were taught that but neuroscience has shown that is not true. Children are born with many inate qualities that influence their behaviour.

    The story I love best (with apologies to anyone who read my previous entry about it) is this:Children are like rose bushes, They come in many shapes and sizes. Some are miniatures, some florabundas, some are climbers, some are tea roses and they come in all different colours. The trick is to never expect one type of rose to be another and to provide the very best conditions, support, pruning and fertilizer and protect it from pests so that the rose bush can express itself fully in the most beautiful roses. As to their thorns- some have more than others so we have to teach them not to hurt others.

    As a mother of 5 ( a wide variety of amazing types!) I can tell you that the only people who are certain about exactly how to raise children are people who never had any!
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      May 23 2011: Well said Debra! As a childless twenty-something, I know EXACTLY how to raise a kid up right... lol.

      It reminds me of a musician friend of mine that had very strict parents in academia. They fought tooth and nail over his decision to play music for a living. Either to please or spite his parents, he got an electrical engineering degree and vows never to use it apart from in his music career. He is a very talented pianist and vocalist and he's doing pretty good for himself. It took his father suffering from a life-threatening illness for him to finally gain some perspective and let his son follow his own path.

      I asked the musician once if he ever wanted kids. He said, "Yeah, I do, but I'm afraid that my son is going to be a meat-head jock and my daughter a popular bimbo... but hey, I gotta let them be that. If that what makes them happy."
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        May 23 2011: I like your muscian friend! It sounds like he has the makings of a great dad (wink, wink)!

        Just jokin' Laura- my kids woud be appalled with me matchmaking!
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          May 23 2011: LOL... I do have a weakness for musicians...
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      May 24 2011: Human psychology is so much more complex than any one branch...I've always been a bit annoyed with both the nature and nurture sides of the whole debate. BOTH are right in their own ways, they're just two different parts of a whole. One can think of an infant with no social imprinting as having a "foundation" of sorts, the genetics, neurology and biology that allows them to be socialized. What those children are taught and grow up to believe could be thought of as the building itself.

      Remove the foundation and the building will collapse in an instant...never build on the foundation and all you'll have is a hole in the ground.
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        May 24 2011: Hi Andrew, my MA is in Social Personality with Neuro chaser. Which branches of Psychology do you believe have the most to offer to people concerning parenting?
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          May 25 2011: Pretty much any branch would have it's benefits really...if one can think of science as a means of cataloging observations of the universe, internal and external, then any one system tends to be intrinsically tied to all the others. A behavioral psychologist may have a little more aptness towards observing behavioral problems. A neurologist would be more informed in regards to how those behavioral problems function within the actual physical brain...a psychiatrist would have a good understanding of how to treat problems.

          In all honestly there's no "one branch" that's going to completely prepare anyone for the task of parenting. Whenever strong emotions like love are involved it seems the ability to look at issues surrounding those emotions in a clinical or dissociated way. That's why so many psychologists have psychologists. :) I suppose the best answer would be cross training, having a solid, if not university level, understanding of the most associated subjects like developmental psychology and so forth.
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        May 25 2011: Cross training is a great answer! Thanks!
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    May 23 2011: It's not programming it's called parenting.

    All parents (conscientious ones) carry some guilt over the things they think they have done wrong or felt they might have failed their child in some small ways.

    Love, love, love them and they will find their own way.
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    Jun 6 2011: Apart from the genetic imprint, we are molded, more or less, by different influences at different times in our development. It's a complex recipe of things that shape us as unique human beings.

    As babies, we are sensory influenced; as young children, we are influenced by those that have the power over us (parents, etc.); as adolescents, we are influenced by our peers and by our hormones, etc.

    As parents, it is crucial that we somehow get across to our children to see the world with an open mind, to be brave enough to connect to it and relate to it in a way that gives meaning to our lives. Meaning = happiness in my book!

    But I agree that the "wild card" in all of it is chance occurrences.
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    May 24 2011: Absolutely...that's what we do...that's what our society has built itself to do. Generally I've heard the term "socialization" as opposed to "programming". Programming seems to have an unnecessary negative tinge to it...if we never socialized our children they would grow up not knowing language, not understanding even the most basic of social norms. Take a look at cases of feral children to get an idea. So yes, we do program our children from the day they are born AND it is good that we do so.

    That doesn't mean they're robots by any stretch, the imprints we place on the children are eventually mixed with their own imprints (for example, sexual preferences...what feels good or bad and so on is usually entirely built by the person during their own early sexual experiences and in MOST cases, hopefully, the parents have nothing to do with that).
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    May 23 2011: In other words, no. I don't think we are "programing" our children much at all as a parent. To some degree as a young child living under the rules and culture of the family, there might be a slight influence but much of that is shed as we peel off the layers of whatever "programing" we had to discover our true selves. Do you attribute yourself, your beliefs, you habits and failings on your parents? If you do, you are not taking the right path to self-discovery.
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    May 22 2011: We are a products of our DNA and environment, the question is to what degree does each contribute to our individuality.

    Steven Pinker says, in paraphrase, "We are determined in part, and only in part, by our genetics. In part by our culture, both the wide culture and the culture of the individual, or his peer group, and to a great degree... greater than many care to acknowledge, by chance occurrences during our life."

    He makes the case that in fact, parents have little influence on how a kid "turns out." He sites studies that found that identical twins raised together are no more similar than identical twins raised apart. What does this tell us? Parenting has little net effect on the resulting adult's personality/success.

    This has some disconcerting implications, such as- does parenting even matter? I think all a kid needs is food, shelter, love and education. The more love and education you supply, the better "chance" the kid has to make good decisions for him/herself, but in the end those decisions are their own.
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      Jun 6 2011: Child raising can be put into very simple terms. your job as the parent is to guide your child down the road of developement. teaching them were the edges of the road are. teach them to read the road signs so they know where they are going. provide a good roadmap of all the streets and highways. hold onto them until they demonstrate a proficiency in negotiating the road then let go and hope they remember which way to turn when you are no longer in the car with them. As for the rest, only they should decide which road to take in life, and make there own roadmap for their kids. if you try and stay in the car to long you will only make them unsafe drivers that worry over whether they are making the right choice or whether you will approve of what they are doing. If they have a little accident pick them up dust them off put them back in the car. sorry for the car reference professional driver.
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    May 22 2011: I believe that children are 'programmed' earlier than day 1. I think that we are:1) affected by genes before we are even born 2) we learn from those with whom we come in contact, primarily parents (I love Deb Roy's talk on The Birth of a Word), to the extent where we are little sponges that repeat everything that we see and hear3) we learn from the society in which we live (religion, culture, language)So unless a child is in complete isolation he will always be subject to programming, be that from parents or someone or something else. As to creativility and innovation - I believe that parents can activly encourage children to be creative and innovative. For instance parents can go by the principle of suggesting upon the best course of action rather than dictating it. So take religion: parents could share their religious beliefts with their children and educate their children about other religions. The child would then be able to develop (to a large extent) a more accurate view of the religion they would like to follow...
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    May 21 2011: I wonder if a good question would be, at what age does one allow one's child to be an independent thinker, allowing them to take a path for which one is not comfortable. Is it 18? Is it 22? Is it 16? Long time to mature, isn't it?

    Sometimes I wonder why we allow our teenagers so much latitude in behavior during 'socialization' (or 'programming'). If we were simply 'surviving' there would not be shenanigans.
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      May 23 2011: Psychologists may refer to this as "differentiation" and it is a process for both members of any close relationship, but the parent-child differentiation process is the most difficult. As you might imagine, differentiation is the process of developing a separate identity- your own identity- as separate from you child or parent. The ages differ greatly, and full differentiation never occurs for many people.

      As with many mother/daughter relationships, my relationship with my mother was very very difficult. One of my reactions was to actively try to be as unlike her as possible. She's great with kids, so kept my distance. She had leaky eye balls... so I reveled in my stoicism. She didn't like pets, so I made a point to love them. She had struggles with her weight, so I was determined to stay thin, so on and so on.

      Was I differentiating? Not at all. I wasn't becoming myself, I was becoming NOT my mother.

      Dr. Harriet Lerner... ... put it best:

      "If you have to be as unlike your mother as possible, it is no different that having to be exactly like her."

      But this process is easier when both parties recognize the need for differentiation and allow it to happen. The most difficult issue my mother and I had to overcome was with respect to my appearance. She always has hair curled, makeup applied, jewelry and floral feminine style... My style is simple and understated- it's not a reaction to her, it truly is my unique style. Yet nothing makes her happier than seeing me all dolled up and for a long time she would tell me to dress up. I resented it. I felt like her favorite barbie doll she wanted to show off to her friends. I felt she placed more value on my appearance than my capable mind.

      At some point she came to accept my sense of style because she hasn't hassled me about dressing up since I was 26.

      If you can scrounge up a tape player, I recommend
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    May 21 2011: I would say that we probably need the 'programming' as much as the space to be creative. It's getting the balance right that's the conundrum.
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      May 21 2011: I agree, withouth the guidance in life that comes form parents there would be no creativity to flourish. I as a parent always try to show my children the right path to take but allow them to decide how to take it.