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I wonder what the worst bit of parenting advice in Heinlein's fiction is?

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

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It's been a while since I've read any Heinlein, honestly, but doesn't a lot of it boil down to "your kids are objects on which to work out your own interests"? Like Kip's father using him as an economic experiment in the previous thread. The ultimate example would be "All You Zombies."

ETA: Unless you mean advice parents give to their kids, not advice to parents from Heinlein, in which case never mind.

Edited at 2013-01-13 03:53 pm (UTC)

I think the passage about public floggings in Starship Troopers contains some musings to the effect that corporal punishment of small children is absolutely necessary because aversion to physical pain is the only thing they understand.

How old is Hazel in MiaHM when they decide she's big enough to be part of the dangerous revolutionary conspiracy to overthrow the government, fourteen? Admittedly, I thought it was cool when I was her age-- wait, I forgot about Ludmilla. Is "It's cool to let your kid marry back into the multi-generational polygamous marriage that produced her" bad parenting advice?

One of my great-aunts joined the Resistance when she was 15. I don't think she was the youngest, either.

IIRC, the narrator of that one married when he was 13, and Wyoming was 15 when she married "twins twice her age." The Loonies don't seem to have a concept of adolescence.

Edited at 2013-01-13 07:55 pm (UTC)

They have good reason to believe that everyone in the Moon dies if the revolution fails. This is going to affect the calculations about the risks 14 year olds should be allowed to take.

I think I would have to go with the incest endorsement/recommendation.

Hmm, thinking about it, doesn't most of the bad parenting advice from heinlein tend to overlap with the bad relationship advice from Stephanie Miers' Twilight novels?

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It was my first thought as well.

To quote Lazarus Long, Heinlein on anything to do with child-raising has "the same standing as sex manuals written by celibate priests." And we know that good old Bob would permanently cut out anyone in his life who suggested that in his presence.

As an adult man, do you think he ever calmed a baby to sleep? Told a small child a bedtime story? Really listened to the conversation of children? I suspect he was too busy fitting out his bomb shelter.

And don't forget, once a girl menstruates, it is time for her to become sexually available to her older relatives! I'm not sure that runs through all of Heinlein. I have not and will not read enough to be sure; Farnham's Freehold and a couple of others were enough to convince even my fourteen year old self that this wackjob was not for me, and exposure to his acolytes in the years since has has done nothing but reinforce my position on this subject.

Although SF authors of that generation mostly ended up getting weird about sex; the later Dune books are shot through with Herbert's discomfort with his experience of desire, and his almost Catholic need to project that onto women as cruel intent. Everything I've ever read by FM Busby was full of odd, sexually dangerous and rapacious madwomen, and I'm sure if I thought about it longer I could come up with more examples. Did Poul Anderson go weird in this way near the end?

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You know that stupid list of Heinlein's about what a person ought to be able to do (excuse me, a man)?

You just made the beginnings of a counter-list that is more to the point. (it should have something about the critical analysis skills necessary for a citizen, something about working with other people and thinking for oneself, something about compassion, something about having a specialty because generalism is the mark of barbarism)

There was one piece of educational advice that haunted me from when I read it, as a small child -- it definitely doesn't qualify as his worst, but it was certainly interesting. In that one where people have their genetic types tattooed in their armpit? what's that one called? at the very end, they have a kid, and they mention that of course he's learning calculus or some damned thing at three, and they'll be teaching him arithmetic, as is natural, at a later date -- I could have this wrong, maybe it was algebra they taught first.

Anyway, I kept gnawing at this off and on. In due course I became a first grade teacher for a while -- which was fun -- and I did teach, not calculus, but algebra, geometry, statistics, logic, and estimation, not before arithmetic, but simultaneously with it, as was in the state framework at the time. It was really good. My kids really learned math well that way. Of course, this was also done with mostly hands-on, real-world things, as is developmentally appropriate.

It's tantamount to illegal to do that, now, though, because the Texans* got hold of the schools, and now everything has to be taught according to a very specific, rigid, and wrongheaded plan.

*no, really, the educational standards that were forced on us came from Texas.

Mid-80s, right? I was in HS when it changed. Nobody was happy except the fucking Republicans, and some of my favorite teachers quit.

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As a general category, I'd put down his advice that the kids be "self-reliant" and not look others for help. ISTR one book where a character says he's 'too stinking proud' to collect unemployment. And if they don't succeed? They've got nobody to blame but themselves.

You might put this one down to living in a different time. Otoh, why am I thinking (without looking it up) that he probably denounced Social Security as 'welfare for the weak sisters'?

Those lazy over-65 parasites!


"I've been on food stamps and welfare, did anyone help me out? No."

- Craig T. Nelson, hilariously being dead serious

"Anyone who has raised puppies—or a number of children—knows that a boy can get as horny over his sister as over the girl down the street, and his sister is often more accessible."

I googled that and found the attendant sentence, "My godson is thirteen and interested, and his sister is eleven and beginning to be interesting."

I've seen Heinlein be given credit for being gender-progressive for his time--interested in women's lib and no knowing what it would look like, I think is what Jo Walton said. But a writer who describes an eleven-year-old girl in sexual terms while casually eliding her agency gets all the credit revoked.

Heinlein obviously did not know of, or believe in, Westermarck effect.

"Worship me (or, at least, my writing) uncritically." Well, okay, maybe he didn't explicitly advise that, but it seems like too many people have that as a takeaway.

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