A Stoic upbringing, Parenting basics

Stoic cool

The other day, as I was flipping through channels on my car radio, I started thinking about the challenge of raising morally excellent kids in a world in which being cool means not really caring about anything besides yourself. No matter what kind of music or tv shows you like, it’s hard to escape the cultural message that being edgy,…

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A Stoic upbringing, Miscellaneous

Oikeiosis

Oikeiosis is a strange Greek word that has an even stranger (and to us, rather vague) meaning, and yet it was once central to Stoic thought and doctrine. When it is mentioned in modern Stoic writing, it has to be extensively glossed, since we have no true equivalent concepts in modern Western society. Translators have used words such as affinity,…

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Love, Miscellaneous

Stoic parent role models

Stoics have always been big believers in role models. In antiquity they often suggested that learners picture a wise man watching their actions, or that they ask themselves what a wise person would do in their situation. We know that the Stoics talked a lot about the ideal sage, so one way to do this exercise is to think about…

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Parenting basics

Materialism

I’ve never really thought of myself as a materialistic person. I’ve always worn inexpensive clothes, lived in modest dwellings, and tried to judge my companions by the quality of their character rather than the expensiveness of their possessions. But when I had kids, my relationship with material goods suddenly changed. My husband and I found ourselves spending a lot of…

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A Stoic upbringing

Instructions vs. core principles

Some days I feel like I am constantly telling my kids what to do: get your feet off the couch, be careful with Freddy, use good table manners, play nicely together, clean up your toys. It’s annoying for me and for them, but often it seems there is no alternative to this steady stream of instructions. That’s why I stopped…

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A Stoic upbringing

A Stoic upbringing: The discipline of action

Of the three Stoic disciplines, the discipline of action may be the most natural to teach young children. While the disciplines of desire and assent have primarily internal processes and results, the discipline of action is more external and visible. So because children interact with other people every day, they have plenty of opportunities to learn and practice Stoic ethics–and…

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A Stoic upbringing

A Stoic upbringing: The discipline of desire

Epictetus advises Stoic novices to start by disciplining their desires and aversions, which makes sense because desiring things is one of our most primal instincts–we would hardly stay alive without it. As (social) animals we instinctively seek not only food and shelter, but also power and social status. But Epictetus tells us we must overcome our animal instincts and use…

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A Stoic upbringing

Plan for a Stoic upbringing

If we want to teach Stoic virtues to young children, we need a plan. The plan that I have listed below helps us (1) know what to focus on and (2) think about how to encourage virtuous behavior at our children’s developmental level. Everyone knows how important developmental level is in young children, but I saw a great reminder of it…

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A Stoic upbringing

Developing a plan for a Stoic upbringing

One reason I consider myself a Stoic parent, rather than simply a Stoic who is also a parent, is because I strongly believe that Stoicism can guide me in raising my children. So you might say that my Stoic parenting project has two main goals: to enhance my practice as a Stoic and to lay the groundwork for my children…

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Love

A doctrine of love

Up to this point I’ve talked a lot about how we can use our reasoning ability to control our thoughts and pursue excellence as people and as parents. This unrelenting focus on rationality and virtue can seem off-putting to many people who are not familiar with the psychological benefits (contentment, joy, fulfillment) you often experience as a by-product of the…

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