Ruminations on Parenthood and Libertarianism

Babies. Ugh.  Yesterday was a BAD DAY.  I am a non-baby person with an 8 month old and another baby on the way.  *sigh*  Can someone say VASECTOMY?  The insistent, warbling cries of a baby are maddening, to the point that it may drive one to smash furniture, kill small animals, light things on fire, etc.  You can’t take it out on the kid, but boy, when you are a non-baby person dealing with a crying baby, that stress has to go somewhere.  Right now, its a pinball game in my head.  I know no one particularly likes dealing with crying babies, but for non-baby people, they can be especially trying.  Like “rip your shirt off and HULK SMASH the wall” trying.

Writing this down perhaps serves as my pressure valve.  Time will tell if it works to relieve some of that stress for me.  Anyway, if child rearing were left exclusively to the men, the human race would cease to exist.  I truly believe that.  Women generally just have more patience and internal fortitude.  And considering women carry their kids around for 9 months, a stronger emotional bond forms that mitigates to varying degrees the miserableness of dealing with a crying baby (at least that’s what it looks like to me).

Guys are just dropped right in to parenthood, like an Allied soldier jumping off a dux boat onto a beach in Normandy while suffering through a hail of Nazi gunfire.  The soldiers did what they had to do to survive.  Using already dead comrades as shields, trying to kill as many Germans as they could, etc.  I am not trying to equate the stress of fatherhood with a soldier on D-Day.  I’m just drawing an analogy to make a point.  Men are generally better equipped to deal with situations that require quick, decisive thinking and action.  This predisposition puts us at odds with parenthood, which is a meandering (or drawn-out, if your having a bad day) process, with many hills and valleys spread over a field of time.  Yes, most guys will adapt, but they generally will never be as good as a woman in dealing with the long term processes of bringing up a child.  We are just not wired that way.

So what do I think guys are good at in regards to the institution of parenthood?  Just as I alluded to above – I think guys are suited to roles that have clearly defined challenges that are resolved in relatively short bursts of time.  Defender of the household, house chore bitch, fixer and assembler of house crap, etc.  Yes, these jobs do not directly affect the baby, but it makes the job of baby shepherding easier on the woman of the household.  As the baby becomes an active munchkin (or hellion if you are having a bad day), the father may adapt his role to include far more interactivity – swim instructor, human jungle gym, guy that wears appropriate costumes for holidays (i.e. Easter bunny, Santa Claus, etc.).  As the kid gets older, a father’s participation should ramp up, as challenges and situations become far more navigable, with a common language bond and the cessation of one parties urge to cry at the slightest provocation (excluding some adults who do this all the time).

So what does all this have to do with my usual political ranting?  Quite a bit.  I find that most of us who would call themselves libertarian in philosophy and affiliation, play the part of the new dad (or a soldier on D-day if you are having a bad day) to basically the wiggly, squirming masses, aka the Big Baby.  To educate the wiggly, squirming masses to a more mature mindset is akin to the exercise of herding cats or trying to console an inconsolable baby.  It quickly becomes an exercise in frustration – An exercise in downright futility if your having a bad day.  The wiggly, squirming masses response to most news, events, and occurrences in the world would be frustratingly predictable to libertarian dad.  However, as the child matures and gets older, libertarian dad can get more involved in the education process with the express and eventual purpose of leaving the handlebars in the hands of his kids when they become young adults.  He is there to teach the basics, then take the training wheels off and push his kids off on their own.  

The problem today though is that the masses have not learned how to handle the bike on their own.  The masses have too long relied upon the answers and actions of government to navigate the world for them.  The government keeps the training wheels on us whether we like them or not.  In most cases, the masses, like a spoiled, scared kid, would prefer to keep them on, because they are unwilling to risk ruling themselves and would rather indulge in the “false security” of training wheels.  However when a kid recognizes that the limitations of the “training wheels” far outweigh the uncertainty of being responsible for themselves, they will ask for them to be removed.  

And so this is where we are.  The masses are waffling between a government solution to the problems of the world and the solutions brought about by individual human enterprise.  To a libertarian, this exercise is an easy, no-brainer.  The government solution is the problem itself – the presence of the training wheels.  But to the masses, the solution to the problem is not that obvious.  

Libertarian dad to the rescue! His mission: to make the case simple and plain.  Unfortunately, this is a mission libertarian dad fails many times, because of his impatience dealing with the irrationality of “big baby” and their inability to see the obvious.  Just like myself, trying to navigate the world alongside my 8 month old.  I of course know that the brain rattling crying makes the solution harder to arrive at, but I also fail to keep in mind that my 8 month old does not know that.  All she knows how to do is to cry for things that she wants or needs.  Libertarian dad needs to take a page out of the playbook of libertarian mom and learn a bit about patience for the process, especially when he’s having a bad day.  It takes time.  As a father, I have to suck it up and deal until she starts to arrive at her pivotal epiphany, independent of what I do or say.  Do I have faith she will come to this juncture eventually?  Of course.  Do I have that same faith for the squirming masses?  Heh. Depends on what kind of day I’m having. 

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