ppl think kids cry a lot, and want unreasonable things. especially very young kids. they think, pretty often, kids are too ignorant to listen to parent. too dumb to see why parent is right.

this is all confused. it involves a sort of partial ignorance. if kid doesn't see why parent is right because he's ignorant, why would he have some alternative idea he thinks is better than parent's? if he's so ignorant, he should also be ignorant of alternatives to what parent is saying.

conflicts between child and parent are never born of pure ignorance. a conflict requires things like: child has some opinion on the matter, which conflicts with parent's. and is attached to it, despite parental disagreement, rather than being willing to drop it.

so there's a question: why did child learn some ideas (the ones that conflict with parent), and become non-ignorant about them, but stay ignorant about what parent is saying? child wasn't born that way.

in general, the way things should work is children learn preferences and the knowledge to achieve those preferences in parallel. it should co-evolve. increase them both together. you don't have to learn to want something before you learn how to get it.

being born ignorant does not cause children to overreach – to want things they aren't yet capable of doing. it doesn't cause them to argue issues they are too ignorant to debate.

if life goes well – and there's no reason it can't – then kids can create preferences, wants, desires, etc, as they have the ability to fulfill them. they can choose short term goals that are realistic in the short term.

people should integrate their preferences and their ability to pursue preferences effectively into one life! if those are separate compartmentalized things, it'll be a disaster.

it's similar to a society developing technology. if people create powerful weapons before they have the moral knowledge to live peacefully, that can be a disaster. if they create cars before they are able to organize traffic, that could be bad. but that doesn't have to happen.

and as usual, these statements about children apply to adults too. it's the same principles. adults are ignorant about some stuff, shouldn't overreach, should coordinate their preferences with their knowledge to achieve preferences, etc.

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By Elliot Temple, Dec 2015 | Join the discussion group, receive the newsletter, or send comments to

Acknowledgments: some ideas presented are modified from, or inspired by, ideas from Karl Popper, Ayn Rand, David Deutsch and William Godwin. Thank you!