Phil’s Day Off (Metaphysics): Early Stages of Negative Behavior
With my focus on the philosophy of redemption, deciding on how to explore this during a Philosophy Day Off was an initially difficult task. As I’ve discovered that reformation takes a good amount of time to really cement itself in a person, it would be futile to find a reformative event happen in a single day. Instead, I decided to explore another aspect of change in human mentality; how a person is formed in the early years of life. Thus, my Philosophy Day Off was spent at the Coquitlam Centre, observing the ways children behaved with their parents.
I firmly believe that much of our behavior and mentality is created by our parents’ influence. Though there are also factors such as the environment and social class one grows up in, parental figures can control the influence of these factors to some extent. Even if we can eventually control any negative attributes our parents may have imbued in us, we can still feel them in the back of our minds. My goal at the mall was to consider the different ways parents behaved around their children, and any reflections of those behaviors in how the kids themselves acted.
In Wal-Mart, I witnessed perhaps the calmest example of the ones I record here. The parents in question had agreed to buy their two sons, both about five or six, a new figure for the video game Disney Infinity. I believe that even the best parents can sometimes forget how their every action can directly or indirectly impact their children’s mentality, and I saw this demonstrated here. There was a plethora of characters to choose from, and the kids were having trouble deciding on one. The parents, however, were bored, impatient, and often passive-aggressive the whole way through. Their initial method to help the kids with their decision was to line up all the figures that they didn’t have yet, and then remove the figures the kids decided that they didn’t want. It might seem like a decent idea, but in using this plan based on what the kids don’t want, the parents are indirectly teaching their children to have a pessimistic mindset. They’re telling their kids to look for the characters they don’t want, and they might continue to concentrate on things they don’t want or don’t like.
Next, I went to HMV. The store is filled with lots of cool memorabilia that would seem enticing to fans and collectors, but a parent might not consider some of the products as the most appropriate toys for their young children. This was demonstrated in the small but emotional incident I witnessed here. A mother was visiting the store with her son, who was about five. Eventually, the mother told her son that it was time to leave, but on the way out, the boy caught sight of a small box near the cash register. I couldn’t see the product clearly, but it was likely a bobblehead or something of the like. The boy asked his mother if they could get it, but the mother refused in a frustrated rush and stormed out of the store, leaving her son to run after her in tears. Children at such a young age don’t really have a concept of money. To them, money might seem like an intangible force that their parents appear to have an endless supply of. As such, young children often ask their parents to purchase items they suddenly have an impulsive lust for, but are unlikely to pay it much attention once it’s theirs. This was a small, foolish moment that is a poor use for tears, and while I don’t believe that the mother did anything wrong, per say, I do think there was a better way to deal with the issue. She could have taken a moment to tell her son that he should think longer and harder before he decides that he wants something, and thus turned the issue into a positive learning experience for her kid. Instead, the mother acted out of frustration, and missed an opportunity to teach her son an extremely valuable lesson. And shouldn’t a parent’s primary duty be to bring valuable life lessons to their children?
I next visited EB Games, where I found the youngest child and the biggest fallout. The boy was hellbent on getting a Minecraft plush, to the extent that he even ran back into the store and basically stole it after his parents refused. This all culminated in the boy’s father carrying him out sideways and shrieking. Now, I wouldn’t expect such a young child to have learned the concept of monetary exchange and theft, so I personally would have considered a different approach with that in mind. I would have gotten to the child’s level and told him that he could have the plush toy after exhibiting particularly good behavior for a period of time, perhaps in school. This could then imbue the boy with a concept of earning instead of taking at an early age.
Overall, the main problem I noticed across these instances was that the parents were more concerned with short-term results. They were so focused on getting out of the store or keeping their child quiet that they didn’t consider how their actions would influence their child. This Phil’s Day Off has definitely made me carefully consider how I will act around my children, as well as how “bad” people might become bad in the first place.