Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Day 371 - Paranoia: shaping children through manners and social etiquette pt1

At this point I am discontinuing the previous series on topics related to the Equal Human Rights by the ELF, because we are as a group now focussing on the various paranoid personalities we play out individually and collectively. I will pick up the previous series at some later point in time. 

Recommended reading regarding paranoid behaviour can be found in the creation's journey to life blog from which I use my working definition of paranoia to guide me here:

"Paranoia is Just a ‘pretty word,’ Meaningless in a way because Conveniently anything that seems to be ‘Abnormal’ may be classified as Paranoia, so it Needs to have a Word that is More Specific. Paranoia comes from the ‘Para-Noise’, the Paranoise comes from the Paranormal, the Paranormal comes from the Parapsychology and the Parapsychology is the Study of ‘Strange Events’ . But Not really – it is just Studying things that you Cannot Really Physically Touch like Ghosts and Thoughts, because Thoughts are like Ghosts: they are here now and then they’re Gone - in a Few Hours You Will Not be able to Remember the Exact Thought you had, you’ll be able to say “I Thought About” but You will Not Be Able to Recall the Exact Thought and Have it in Exactly the Same Way – also when you are Thinking about Something and Specially during the stage of the Developing Paranoia, the Thought will Repeat itself but In that Process, the Thought will Develop. So the Thought will be Changing and Progressively become More Obsessive and It Will Move You as the One having the ‘Paranoise’ the Paranoid Thought more and more to the Center of the Thought Convincing you that ‘the Thought is Right’ and you will so Change even Your Memory Eventually Claiming that ‘You are Right.’ It is a Fascinating thing that this Happens over and over and over again – and yet, our Psychology is not yet Researching this - it has not even Categorized it correctly because in a way Parapsychology is the Study of the ‘Thought Mind’ – that means Things like Paranoia, because it falls in the same Category as Conspiracy and Ghosts and in the same category as ‘Life After Death’ because it all falls within the things that You Cannot See."

In this post I will be discussing a social paranoia regarding manners and social etiquette that I have experienced since I was a young child. We coerce children into behaviour that is rarely commonsensical and never questioned by parents and educators. Because parents want to fit in, and often fear that their child's behaviour is reflective of their parenting, many parents use force, criticism or violence to bring about the behaviour that they want to see in their children.  

So I wanted to see why we believe that we must force children into norms of behaviour, and I took a probe of three popular websites

"... teaching your child proper social grace, etiquette, intercultural competence, morality, politeness and more will go a long way toward aiding his or her success in life both socially and in business. Employers, friends, family and more like classy people. The mannerly person not only impresses others, but he or she is quick to commend another on their behavior. Manners are about respect and honor for self and for others...."
"Good etiquette is taught, not inherited. Don't let your child be the one that makes others cringe. Teach your children proper etiquette and you will equip them to successfully interact with others in numerous social settings (without embarrassing you)..."
An article in the NY times gives a few perspectives by business endevours that are the post-runners to former finishing schools:
“Say the words ‘manners’ or ‘etiquette’ to kids these days, and they run the other direction,” she said. She prefers teaching the children that they are “building the brand called ‘you.’ ”

So, even as she imparts lessons about using forks and the importance of looking the waiter in the eye, she does so by framing the lessons in a constructively selfish way for the children. On the first day of her five one-hour sessions, which cost $285, she tells the children to go home and do one unexpectedly kind thing so that they can see how wide-eyed and impressed their parents will be. “It’s almost manipulation at its finest,” she said.
Another night, two families were sitting at adjoining tables.....a 5-year-old started yelling and jumping up and down. “The second or third time it happened, one of the kids at the other table goes over to the one jumping up and down and said, ‘You can’t do that,’ ” Mr. Kowal recalled. “That was the best. 
Key points of coercion :
- make the child see that through manners and social etiquette they are better than others, so here we are planning mechanism of superiority/inferiority
- using manners/social etiquette to get accepted by others, we are already instilling that life in society is all about performance and not about living as self-expression.
- affirming that the child is "property" of the parent which can reflect back the parent through ways of behaviour, and thus iterate the "firm grip" of family ties.
- teach the child to manipulate to get what they want in life, which is one of the most prevalent mechanisms in our capitalistic society where we disinform, sabotage and abuse others to make money at the expense of everyone and everything - without real care or concern.
- teach the child to get a sense of their social class, knowing/having more manners than other children implies that the parents have/had more money because they have invested in the child.
- create the policemen in the child's head that then becomes active in telling others to stick to accepted behaviour, making social change impossible because children as well as adults 'patrol' each other.
- teach children to judge others based on their social etiquette/manner by comparing themselves with others which can then be applied to other areas of self-conduct in society. This is evident in our society where we are judging everything by the picture/image we see/portray and how this picture/image makes us feel.
What are the key areas where we are enforcing manners in children:
Physical body:

"Don't allow your children to chew with their mouths half full of food or speak too loudly at the table. Ignoring table manners may come back to embarrass you when your coworker invites your family to dinner."

"He recalled one child who wouldn’t settle down, and he threatened to tape the child’s mouth. The child told him to go ahead and try. “I went to my office, got some blue painter’s tape, came back and ripped a piece off,” he said. The kid piped down. “The parents looked at me like, ‘We’re going to try that at home.’ ”
source: nytimes
source: nytimes
Bodily noises 
- burping
"Turn your head to one shoulder or the other as you burp into your fist. Which side to turn your head? Well, if there’s no one on a particular side, choose that side. If there’s someone on both sides, you’ve got a choice to make. Who will mind the least? If your neighbor is on your right, and your husband is on your left, turn your head to your left. It’s no disrespect; it just goes with being family!" 
- passing gas
"This is the bodily function people dread happening to them or anyone near them. I wish there was a magic wand to make it all go away, but of course there isn’t.[...]....Passing gas is called a “social unmentionable.” That means no matter what, shhh! We don’t mention it in adult company!
"Passing gas is embarrassing for the offender and the offended. Resist the urge to say anything or to laugh at the expense of the other person."
At home with your children, you might want to establish a rule that makes them apologize quickly when around family members. Otherwise, a lengthy and giggle-filled game of “I didn’t do it; he did!” is likely to frequently erupt!

"There are 5 words that should be among the first in every child's primary vocabulary. These should be used while speaking to children as young as 6 months old. Try this when your infant, toddler or young child tries to grab something from you, you withhold the item and direct them to ask politely. You say to them something like, "Say please." Or with an older child you might direct him or her to use the whole sentence and "Say, mom, may I please have a piece of cake?" Here are Five phrases that your child must master 'Thank you.' 'Please?' 'May I …' 'Excuse me.' And 'No, thank you.' No exceptions-these are required"

"Teach them the importance of respecting others' feelings and needs and you will go a long way toward achieving this end. As they learn to listen more, speak less, esteem others and humble themselves their golden rule behavior will begin to shine forth."

"Teach your children to show gratitude. There is nothing more frustrating than to not have a gift or kind gesture acknowledged. Teach your children to write thank-you notes to friends and family for birthday or Christmas gifts."
Summary of the key areas in how they trail into adult behaviours:
By now it has become obvious that manners and social etiquette are not common sensical and are used to suppress ourselves. Even though everyone is burping and farthing we are taught to be embarrassed about it, to fear doing it in public - in short, we are taught that our bodily functions are less than us, are beneath us, and that the solution is best not to deal with them. And thus that our body can be abused/suppressed because it's important to accommodate the social behaviour and stay clear of our feelings (of embarrassment). 
Early on we are taught to be uncomfortable in our bodies which, once accepted within a child, is perpetuated as an adult spreading further into body image and presentation of ourselves. When we are preoccupied with the picture we present to the world with our looks - we breed adults with all kinds of eating disorders, physical insecurities and obsessions. We learn to accept that we wear uncomfortable clothes or are unable to express ourselves in physical ways because we have habituated ourselves to act within the allowed physical parameters so that stepping outside of the constraints causes us to be fearful. 
And where else than our sex life does this produce the greatest repercussions? Since we are not in touch with our own bodies we are equally not able to be in touch with the bodies of others. And this goes a long way in explaining violence in sex, and our complete disconnect to a large part of the world's population who is starving and living in physical sub-human conditions. What these manners achieve in the long run is that we can no longer relate from a physical point of view - we have in effect numbed ourselves and are not even aware of it.
In how we restrict the physical body, we equally restrict ourselves with words.  Why is it acceptable that the first words of a child that is 6 months old should be: thank you; no, thank you; please; may I; excuse me? Why are we imposing these words onto children instead of guiding them individually to find their first words on their own. After all, children are constantly surrounded by language they will be sparked by it and try to make sounds that form into words. Instead of supporting a child's natural learning ability we again use a forceful top-down approach to coerce them into behaviour that we, as adults, can control. We have come to see children as lesser beings, were we can impose ways of being onto them and be it through teaching those five words without any context that the child may be able to create understanding (often because we fear the child's questioning as we don't have plausible answers). As a result, we are teaching our children that we must accept what someone else tells us, implanting the concept of hierarchy, pecking order, the idea of a god, a boss, someone who is more, higher or better than oneself -  as early as 6 months old. 
As shown in the examples above, the emotional realm is also used to teach manners and social etiquette in relation to objects/gifts, and feelings towards others. Gratitude in general operates from the assumptions that one must be 'deserving' of something, therefore stating that who we are as a person, as life, is not complete but can be augmented any time with the value of money (gift). This is not just through gifts, it's through degrees, awards, praise, really any kind of acknowledgement. These types of manners we teach are in part the source for our society that is so in need of recognition, evident in 'fan-hood' and the whole celebrity cultivation - everyone wants to be more than what they are.
'Learning to speak less, and listen more' ... and 'esteem others' and to humble oneself  - is setting up a child to learn to live a life of fulling someone else' expectation. This forms the basis of our relationships: at first with parents, then with teachers, bosses, colleagues and partners. We don't relate to others from a point of common understanding or equality that includes everyone, we learn to relate to others by figuring out what they expect from us and then fulfilling this expectation accordingly. Alternatively, we learn to manipulate based on these common expectations.  
All of these 'mechanisms' that we teach to children are evident in the thoughts we think all of the time. We may not remember what they are in detail but we know that we constantly judge and monitor our actions, that we are concerned with how our words come across with others and whether we are doing the right thing. We are shaped by these thoughts and develop all kinds of obsessions that once they have escaped the "formless realm" namely the mind,  they manifest in our lives as behaviours. Here I point to some examples:
Eating disorder:
In developed societies, anorexia nervosa is the third most common chronic illness for young females. (obesity & asthma are 1 & 2) It is ten times more common than insulin dependent diabetes.
15 – 19 year old females 0.5%
20 – 24 year old females 0.25%
After Obesity & Asthma, Anorexia is is the most common disease in this population group.
Plastic Surgery:
And here I refer you to an impressive list that is too long to post here, you can see that there are more than 20 types of plastic surgeries that can be had for every part of the body.
Emotional disorders in the US and elsewhere are drastically underreported. Here are some of the reasons:
"A literature review revealed that estimates of the number of children suffering from serious emotional/behavioral problems vary significantly depending on study purpose, methodology for selection of study population, and criteria used to diagnoses disorders and identify functional impairment. These wide variations highlight a huge challenge in early childhood mental health. There are many reasons for underreporting that need immediate attention. For example, establishing a standard definition of “serious emotional disturbance” and an agreed-upon minimum level of functional limitation in certain domains to establish a “case” would help eliminate the underreporting of serious emotional disturbance in very young children."
Language-related disorders
This example is from the US and more can be read here 
Specific Language Impairment (SLI) occurs when children present language maturation at least 12 months behind their chronological age, in the absence of sensory or intellectual defects, pervasive developmental disorders, evident cerebral damage, and adequate social and emotional conditions. SLI is one of the most common childhood disorders, affecting 7% of children.

We must realise that all these developments are rooted in the many ways we try to shape (brainwash) our children's behaviour without really understanding the effects. We don't understand ourselves and have accepted that we are "plagued" by automated thoughts and fears. We are paranoid of each other based on how we socialise. Socialising each other and specifically children, contributes largely to the world we have created and the compounded effects cannot be missed when we look at the increase of illness, disorders and obsessive behaviours. Most of us know that there is common sense, research and insight missing in how we go about relating to each other. Changing ourselves is the first step in this equation, to understand who we have become so that we can change it, to end the abuse and suffering in this world. Join us. 

In the next post I will be walking self-forgiveness on these points. 


  1. awesome! interesting that what we call 'social behavior' is in fact that which separates us the most from each other and creates the most tension/conflict - thanx for sharing!

  2. Cool article with some nice research. Wen putting all these examples together we get a clear picture of the brainwashing on children indeed !


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