06 August 2009

Parenting Today

Parenting Today - The Preschooler: 3 to 5 Years
United States - 1993
Director – Craig Chapman
Aid Association For Lutherans, 1993, VHS
Run Time – 40 minutes

Produced by the Aid Association for Lutherans, Shelacked hive queen Michael Learned (The Waltons) hosts this undiluted divinely inspired informational/instructional video, giving a touchy feely absolute word-of-god spin to the practice of effective indoctrination of Preschoolers. Professing to have an insight into the unique epistemology of Preschooler culture, a panel of so-called Experts chosen for their unnatural appearance divulges the secrets of successful psychological manipulation and indoctrination. Their research is backed up by the testimony of numerous semi articulate Parents chosen for their rigid hair and subdued intellect.

The Experts make the assumption that their own system of institutions is the only morally “right” system, dismissing the validity of Preschooler epistemology as primitive compared to their own. Thus they offer rhetorical justifications for imposing them upon the uncivilized Preschoolers. A blinking pale toad-woman uses Parent generated language of acceptance to classify the average Preschooler into an established taxonomy of correct vs. “misbehavior”, portraying the Preschooler as a sociopathic liar in order to justify the imposition of the Parents moral institutions.


Learned summarizes the three classic methods of colonizing Preschoolers as provided by Experts Abraham Lincoln and Toad Woman, and the likely outcomes of each. Each of these techniques is demonstrated by a female Parent and a sufficiently compliant Preschooler aping the role of “typical” Preschooler.1

Permissive – Choices without limits: in this vignette, the Parent attempts to coerce the Preschooler into donning typical Parent clothing. When the Preschooler opts instead for traditional Preschooler garb, the Expert digresses and allows the subject to wear traditional clothing. This type of tolerance often leads to a lack of discipline and inability to make difficult (but ultimately correct) choices in the Preschooler.

Autocratic – Limits without choices: in this version, the Parent again attempts to coerce the Preschooler into wearing Parent attire rather than Preschooler attire. In this case the Preschoolers poor choice is met with harsh rebuke and the Parents desired outcome is harshly imposed. Discipline of this sort can later lead to the Preschoolers dependence on the Parent to make choices on the Preschoolers behalf.

Authoritarian – Choices with limits: Clearly this is the preferred method of imposing Parent culture on the primitive Preschooler. Authoritarianism invokes the best aspects of both preceding techniques. The Authoritarian Parent gives Preschoolers a choice of several actions and explains the consequences of each. However, the choices alluded to are subtly designed to conceal the fact that the only acceptable outcome is that desired by the Parent. In effect they are false-choices which cleverly manipulate the Preschoolers ability to rely on her own self-generated knowledge.


This is the ultimate form of coercion because it leads the Preschooler to “choose” Parent culture without realizing she has invalidated her own indigenous Preschooler culture. The Preschooler subliminally learns that all things Preschooler are inherently inferior, and were she to attempt to return to traditional Preschooler ways she would feel at the very least disgusted and shamed. In effect this method teaches the Preschooler that Parents are better simply because they are Parents and Preschoolers are not Parents therefore they can never be as good. The Preschooler can then spend the rest of her life hating herself and striving mightily to deny her inferior condition.


1. The Preschooler in this case appeared to be merely reciting lines that were supplied ahead of time, and lacked the genuine inflection that would indicate emotional involvement in the process. Furthermore the Preschooler was wearing a look of barely restrained boredom which leads us to believe that she was coerced into participation, most likely with candy, a favorite tool of Parents trying to undermine the traditional values of Preschoolers.

2 comments:

regis said...

Toad Woman looks like Kevin McDonald. But "Abe Lincoln" also looks like Kevin McDonald in a chinstrap beard.

Seth J G Goodkind said...

I like the idea of an elaborately staged Kids In the Hall sketch.