Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

On Defiance

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I read one of those meme-like things on facebook recently. Something along the lines of, “I want my kids to be independent, self-something people, just not while I am raising them”. (Can’t remember what the something was.

I disagree. I consciously allow space for my child to stretch her independence and exert her will. I see no reason to break her will just to exert my authority. I recognize that lots of what I think I want her to do stems from no real important deep reason except my own whim, so I learned to let go unless it was really important or reasonable to ask her to do something against her will. I don’t always have patience for this: for letting go, persuasion, playing games, distractions, etc. But I try.

And then there’s defiance. I think it’s good not to break a child’s defiance to authority. You see where this is going?

I think there are different approaches to defiance; some healthy, some not.

a. Defiant by default = defiant of any form of authority, regardless (I’m looking at you, S; and all you anarchists out there).

b. Defiant by nature = finds it easy to get into defiant mode. It’s not knee-jerk like “by default”, but it comes easy…

c. Defiant by necessity = defiance doesn’t come naturally but is invoked when necessary

d. Defiant reluctantly = defiance comes with difficulty, even when it’s necessary, it’s invoked reluctantly.

Now I would put myself somewhere between b&c depending on context but am pretty sure others might think I fall under a because of the frequency of my defiance and others might see me as d because of certain situations I choose not to be defiant even though I could be.

There is probably also a utilitarian option:

e. Defiant when it (likely) produces the best result

I kinda like this more than defiance on principle. But i think i am more principle-based than results-based. I’ll defy on principle and hope for a good outcome, regardless how risky.

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