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Teach Your Children Well

August 23, 1999

Because I write about politics, people are forever asking me the best
way to
teach children how our system of government works. I tell them that they
can
give their own children a basic civics course right in their own homes.

In my own experience as a father, I have discovered several simple
devices
that can illustrate to a child's mind the principles on which the modern
state
deals with its citizens. You may find them helpful, too.

For example, I used to play the simple card game WAR with my son. After
a
while, when he thoroughly understood that the higher ranking cards beat
the
lower ranking ones, I created a new game I called GOVERNMENT. In this
game,
I was Government, and I won every trick, regardless of who had the
better card.
My boy soon lost interest in my new game, but I like to think it taught
him a
valuable lesson for later in life.

When your child is a little older, you can teach him about our tax
system in a
way that is easy to grasp. Offer him, say, $10 to mow the lawn. When he
has
mowed it and asks to be paid, withhold $5 and explain that this is
income tax.
Give $1 to his younger brother, and tell him that this is "fair". Also,
explain that you need the other $4 yourself to cover the administrative
costs
of dividing the money. When he cries, tell him he is being "selfish" and
"greedy". Later in life he will thank you.

Make as many rules as possible. Leave the reasons for them obscure.
Enforce
them arbitrarily. Accuse your child of breaking rules you have never
told him
about. Keep him anxious that he may be violating commands you haven't
yet
issued. Instill in him the feeling that rules are utterly irrational.
This
will prepare him for living under democratic government.

When your child has matured sufficiently to understand how the judicial
system
works, set a bedtime for him and then send him to bed an hour early.
When he
tearfully accuses you of breaking the rules, explain that you made the
rules
and you can interpret them in any way that seems appropriate to you,
according
to changing conditions. This will prepare him for the Supreme Court's
concept
of the U.S. Constitution as a "living document".

Promise often to take him to the movies or the zoo, and then, at the
appointed
hour, recline in an easy chair with a newspaper and tell him you have
changed
your plans. When he screams, "But you promised!", explain to him that it
was
a campaign promise.

Every now and then, without warning, slap your child. Then explain that
this
is defense. Tell him that you must be vigilant at all times to stop any
potential enemy before he gets big enough to hurt you. This, too, your
child
will appreciate, not right at that moment, maybe, but later in life.

At times your child will naturally express discontent with your methods.
He
may even give voice to a petulant wish that he lived with another
family. To
forestall and minimize this reaction, tell him how lucky he is to be
with you
the most loving and indulgent parent in the world, and recount lurid
stories
of the cruelties of other parents. This will make him loyal to you and,
later,
receptive to schoolroom claims that the America of the postmodern
welfare
state is still the best and freest country on Earth.

This brings me to the most important child-rearing technique of all:
lying.
Lie to your child constantly. Teach him that words mean nothing--or
rather
that the meanings of words are continually "evolving", and may be
tomorrow
the opposite of what they are today.

Some readers may object that this is a poor way to raise a child. A few
may
even call it child abuse. But that's the whole point: Child abuse is the
best
preparation for adult life under our form of GOVERNMENT.

* * * * * * *

Joe Sobran writes a href="http://www.uexpress.com/ups/opinion/column/js/index.html">syndicated column
and has his own publication, Sobran’s.


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