Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Raising Kofi's Kids 

I decided to go dumpster diving through the UN web site again today, looking for salacious anti-Israel propaganda, or, barring that, something useful like parenting tips. While I didn't find parenting tips per say, the UN does have something called The Programme on the Family. It's a little hard to tell from the title whether they care more about the programme or the family so I thought I'd take a peek and find out a little more.

It turns out this Programme isn't really all that concerned with mundane things like parenting tips. Not when there are bigger fish to fry: family issues like HIV/AIDS and the family, poverty and the family, gender equity and the family, and of course:

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) provided assistance to 50,649 refugee families in 1998–1999 in the form of food and cash subsidies, training programmes and small grants or loans to establish self-support projects.
Hey, I'm sure this is all great stuff, in the usual UN sense of what great stuff means: throwing fancy cocktail parties, reprinting and distributing last year's boiler plate summary of 'this and that' as this year's boiler plate summary of 'this and that', and networking -- lots of networking -- for example:

Collaborative links were also established among the different United Nations organizations (for example, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO)).
Establishing all those collaborative links must have taken bucketfuls of sweat and maybe a little hard work, too. I would love to write a brief report summarizing our gratitude for their effort, but I wouldn't know which UN commission to file it with.

But what about my parenting tips? Well, in the interest of providing something useful on this blog, since I couldn't find what I wanted on the UN's site, I figured I would write "How to Raise Your Kids the UN Way" myself. If I can sneak into the right cocktail party, maybe it'll even show up on next year's Programme on the Family page. Of course this effort is seriously underfunded and lacking in collaborative links, but it's the best I can do until they let me into the cocktail party.

How to Raise Your Kids the UN Way

The UN has a great deal of policy experience in areas vital to proper child-raising. We've talked it over at a few expensive parties and have managed to boil the vast wealth of information down to this cocktail napkin-sized list of just the absolutely crititcal areas of focus. Skipping for the moment the utterly central issue of supporting Palestinian children and their freedom-loving parents, let's focus on the following important techniques for properly raising a UN child:
  1. Do not weigh your children down with the concept of consequences. Do you think for a second we at the UN could have achieved the great success we've had with Palstinian refugee programs and the Iraqi Oil for Food Programme if we had wasted our time harping on consequences all the time? Consequences shmonsequences. Isn't growing up hard enough already without the burden of knowing that everything you do might blow up in your face, break something, or hurt someone else? Focusing on consequences at too young an age can inflict great emotional distress that can only be worked out later in life through careful liason with appropriate UN Emotional Wellness and Human Rights programs.
  2. Choose your favorite child early and make sure the choice is clear to the other children. Children need a sense of security in their lives. It can be quite traumatic to walk around in a haze of doubt for the first decades of your life, only learning after it is already too late that Mommy and Daddy really didn't really love you as much as the others. Make it clear to your children from the outset. For example, look at how much confusion we inadvertantly caused the State of Israel. They somehow got the impression that because their statehood was ratified by the UN, that they were therefore accepted as equal with the other states. It has taken literally decades of constant followup work -- keeping them off committees, establishing programme after programme solely to criticize them -- to correct this misapprehension on their part. Don't make the same mistake we did. Get it out in the open.
  3. Frequently discipline your less favored children using general condemnations and empty threats. Your children need to know who's boss, so it is important to direct a steady stream of vitriol at them, day and night. Of course, you don't want to criticize them all and risk crushing your favored children's psyches. It's better to pick out a few and make a show of pestering them, so that all of the children will see it and be aware of your authority. However you have to be careful how you do it. Under no circumstances should any of your threats result in any follow up action that would inconvenience you, or take time away from cocktail party hour. If your children don't respond to a threat, repeat it, several times if need be. If they still don't listen, slowly weaken the threat. They'll eventually get it, or the whole thing will slowly go away until they finally move out of the house. Either way, it won't be your problem anymore. I can only point to the situation in Iraq as a textbook example of this technique in action. Look at all of the trouble the US has caused by constantly trying to "follow through" on everything, when we had managed the situation quite effectively for a decade or more without even breaking a sweat.
  4. Don't criticize poorly behaved children, it will further erode self-esteem; focus instead on finding fault with the well-behaved kids thus countering their tendency toward arrogance. You've probably heard the whiny argument from the U.S. and Israel that the various branches of the Human Rights movement should spend less time criticizing well-behaved democracies and more time pestering Iran, North Korea and other bloody regimes. Do you see how much arrogance we have to deal with? As if just because they don't run their dissident citizens feet first through whisper-chippers they are somehow better than everybody else. Don't let this attitude creep into your children. If they've done their homework, point out they could have done it sooner. If they vacuumed the rug without being asked, check to see if they changed the bag in the cleaner. Served you breakfast in bed? Make sure the juice is chilled to industrial standards for bacterial safety. You've got to stay on top of them. But under no circumstances should get risk possible emotional damage to your other kids by getting upset if they are brought home by the police at two in the morning smelling of beer and cigarettes.
  5. Get your kids vague but highly rewarding jobs at your place of work.This isn't to recommend you violate child labor laws, or that you inculcate in your children capitalistic ideas that everyone has to work hard. In fact, your kids really should never even show up. Having them show up makes the whole thing that much harder to deny, and makes it so much more likely some goody-goody will stumble across your child-raising program and try to blow the whistle. No, we're just talking about bookkeeping -- simple family-oriented accounting -- that's all.
  6. Skim your kids' allowances.A well funded family is a happy family.
Update: girlfriday has already spotted some of these techniques being practiced by parents while shopping:

Sift distractedly through the racks while chanting: "Devon. Devon. Devon, I'm serious. Stop it. Devon. Stop it, Devon. Devon. Stop it. Devon. Right now. Devon. Knock it off. I'm serious this time. Devon!"
This could change the world.

(trackbacks at generous sites: Point Five, Basil's Blog, Uncooperative Blogger, Stop the ACLU, Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns and MacStansbury.org -- thanks everybody and happy "holiday")

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: