Tuesday, May 07, 2013

A moral dilemma

When it comes to following rules, JED are all on different pages.

There's Jordan who is very happy to circumvent the rules if she thinks she can get away with it.

There's Evan who is a stickler for the law and will enforce it without question and at all costs.

There's Muffin who will flagrantly violate all rules when it benefits him but will enforce it when it has to do with others.

From a moral standpoint, Evan is the upstanding one. The problem is that will pose a problem socially. Regardless of situation or circumstance, a rule is a rule. It is black and white. There is no bending. Barry Schwartz on TED talks about Practical Wisdom and knowing when to follow the rules and when to choose wisely. We think Evan will have a big struggle trying to strike a balance between the two.

We have told him that 'stupid', 'shut up', 'sexy' and 'wah lau' are words he should not use. So he carries that out and enforces it to a T. He refers to them as the "ST" word, "SH" word, "S" word and the "W" word. I assume that there have been more but those are the ones off the top of his head. He tells off both adults and children for the use of such words. Even when we ask him about the words, he won't say them. It's like being a wizard and muttering the name "Voldermort".

When we told him that there were certain situations where such words were okay,

1. Stupid- if it was used to describe objects (definitely not people).
2. Sexy- when it was used by an adult to describe objects (Packrat was at the point describing a phone that was sexy when the little policeman blew the whistle on him).

Evan's head almost exploded. He was much happier when we told him that "Sexy" and "Wah lau" should never be used by children, to describe children and describe the behaviour of children, he was much happier. 

He is also happy to tattle on anyone who violates the rules. Justice is blind in his six year old eyes. "But Ah Ma used the 's' word on Jordan!". That's when we told him that he could very nicely tell Ah Ma that it wasn't a word that was very nice to describe Jordan with. His tangential response to that was "But I can't pronounce the word 'describe'!"

With Jordan, if her moral compass serves her well (and as parents, we hope it does), her ability to decide when to follow rules and when to bend them will be a good thing. The theory behind that is that we have to trust that she will know how and when to do the right thing rather than just the expected thing. The morally righteous would disagree with me and I wonder about the larger implications of raising her on such a philosophy. It is true that the conservative and the morally strict have it easier in life because everything in their world is black and white. The moral libertarians have it much tougher. Jordan is a moral libertarian.

As for Muffin, we think he's going the way of Evan more than Jordan. He tells on his classmates if someone is misbehaving. He gets very upset when his siblings don't do as told and indignant when he has to and they get away with it. How do we know this? Because he tells us so. But that bit, makes us wonder whether he is just tattling on them so that we will, in his words "Scold Kor Kor Mommy! Scold Che Che Mommy!" But he is wilful and doesn't think twice before disobeying us or our rules.

Right now, it's still a pretty blanket rule in our household. What we say goes. But because of there different outlooks regarding rules, we have to deal with each differently.

For Jordan, we have to explain to her why things are right and wrong and why we ask and expect her to do things in a certain manner.

For Evan, we provide him with exceptions to help him see the world in a few more shades of grey.

For Muffin, right now we just tell him what is right and wrong and we try and explain his black and white world into a little bit of grey. But for him, we're not sure how much he actually gets.

Every day, I understand a little bit better why my parents responded "Beacause I say so" as an answer to us second guessing and questioning them.

Hooking up with Regina's Tuesday's Thoughts:



  1. Ayoh!! 3 different personalities... 3 different types of reactions!

    Wah lau. :D Right now, while Mummy is chopped liver, C still listens to Daddy because he knows - what Daddy says goes. I suppose sometimes it's easier that way, especially as a Shaddap tactic!

    shhhhh!! Don't tell Evan that!!

  2. Hopefully, when Evan discovers this blog and reads it, he will be past the age where these things matter! :) Hopefully!