Following Rules

This is another post that was in drafts from 2011.

DC is a rules follower.  Ze trusts that the rules are there for a reason and are in hir best interest.

American cinema and television demonstrate that sometimes the rules are not good ones.  Why is there a rule against earth-bending?  <– I think this must have been a discussion with DC1, probably about Avatar?  I haven’t watched it, but maybe there was a rule against Earth bending that DC1 didn’t understand?

America loves a rebel.

These are the discussions we’ve been having.  Thankfully we’re too young to talk about the Holocaust.

What do you do with a child that is just a little bit too good?  Do you leave hir that way or explain that sometimes rules don’t make sense.  And when rules don’t make sense, there’s a need to rebel against them.  Hopefully through channels that follow the rules, but sometimes that isn’t enough.

Update 11 years later:  DC1 is pretty good at passive-aggressive resistance.  DC2 is more of an outspoken rebel.  Both are probably helpful in the future fight against fascism.  And they both know about the Holocaust.

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7 Responses to “Following Rules”

  1. delagar Says:

    My kid was a rules follower, but that had a lot to do with untreated anxiety. He’s still pretty anxious about not breaking rules.

  2. First Gen American Says:

    I was a rule follower and my #2 son is much like me. It took gaining enough self confidence and experience to enable me to say no to things. Would have rarely happened in my 20s but now in my late 40s, I usually call out when I think there is a better way instead of just nodding and saying yes to things. All aspects of life got easier since then as that kind of employee who works smarter is more valued. Ps. It happened to correspond with paying off my house and having enough f-you money to do that. Perhaps tenure is similar.

    Hopefully time and maturity is all that is needed for kids to do the right thing.

  3. Debbie M Says:

    I was a rules follower and still mostly am. This seems unrelated, but I remember at age 10 telling myself to remember how much 10-year-olds can do. I felt I could do basically everything a grown-up needs to do (like cook and balance a checkbook) except drive, because I was too short. Now I know I used to see things much more in black and white back then, and I think that’s a hazard of being young. I remember thinking that some people were singing songs “wrong” because they didn’t do it exactly the way I was used to hearing the songs.

    So, once things weren’t always so black-and-white to me, it became possible to see that rule following isn’t always appropriate. For example, when driving, I’d match the speed of the cars around me, even if it was over the speed limit. (Though it was still a great relief to learn in defensive driving class that driving safely is actually one of the rules.)

    And now that I know a lot more about colonialism and other abuses of power, I know that a lot of rules are made up for evil reasons, even things I never could have suspected before like the war on drugs and certain translations of the Bible.

    To address your question, I did get to learn about the sit-ins and other 1960s civil rights rebellions in school. (I moved to Texas in the 6th grade–did I learn about that before then? Or did I actually learn about it in Texas? I’m not sure.) I’ve heard a million times that Germans should have protested various escalating Nazi behaviors, but I’m not clear on how they should have done that. My parents were different religions, so I didn’t grow up with one right word of God. And I’m a supertaster which makes me naturally not want to follow some rules (eat vegetables) or even succumb to peer pressure (alcohol and cigarettes are yucky). So those things probably helped me.

    I do remember having trouble with some of my mom’s lessons about fairness. Specifically, my little sister got to have dessert without finishing her supper, and my brother and I did not. But it’s because my brother and I were picky eaters and she was trying to entice us to eat healthy things in order to get dessert. (Yep, exterior motivation, didn’t work–she tried, though.) Whereas my sister was not a picky eater but was overweight, so she was being enticed to stop eating when she was full.

  4. nicoleandmaggie Says:

  5. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    I don’t think this is a problem we have or will have. Mostly JB is a rule follower but they “forget” them at times. Bigger picture, we talk about morality and when rules are bad. Smol Acrobat is absolutely all about testing every boundary that exists right now :)

    I think the Earth bending was prohibited because the Fire Nation had occupied the Earth Kingdom, wasn’t it?

  6. Michael N Nitabach Says:

    Very interesting post! My theory is that older GenX ppl like me were raised totally “free-range” by their dysfunctional boomer parents & this made us essentially both “raise ourselves” AND zealously seek other rule-governed contexts in which to excel since our family structures had zero rules. This is why GenX are such effective valuable cogs in enormous brutal machines like academia, business, law, etc.

  7. xykademiqz Says:

    Eldest was/is a rule follower, to a definite fault. He’s been blindsided more than once by people bending or shirking rules when it suits them. Smurf tends to follow rules, too, but he’s still pretty young, and has a bit of a mean, self-serving streak that Eldest doesn’t; it will serve him well.
    Middle Boy, oh boy — not a rule follower at all. He’s a good kid, but he’s the only one of the three who’s been low-key lying since he was quite young, and he’s actually pretty good at it. He’s overall the kid with the best social skills, so really good at understanding what flies and what doesn’t. Now that he’s done with the worst of puberty, he’s calmed down and is less of a hell-raiser. Basically, Middle Boy will absolutely *not* do something just because someone of authority says so. You need to actually convince him by pleading your case, during which time he completely pretends to ignore you. Then he sits on it for however long he needs until it makes sense within his internal moral structure, and once he decides it’s something that makes sense, he does it without prompting and without issues.


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