Tom Brady kissed his son. Facebook loses its mind.

Tom Brady

Kiss Between Tom Brady, 11-Year-Old Son Raises Questions About Parent-Child Affection

Quick synopsis if you’re in a hurry: On video, Tom Brady suggested his son owed him a kiss for a favor regarding a fantasy-football activity, the son gave him a quick peck right on the lips, Brady implied it wasn’t enough, and the son gave him a longer one. Some people who saw the video got upset by this. Other people didn’t.

This hit a little bit of a raw nerve with me, because I’ve witnessed cases where it has gotten out of hand—like vegetarian or homeschooling families getting CPS called on them.  I’ve been informed by feminists that “it’s rape” and “an act of violence” if I put my arm around my daughter to comfort her when she’s distraught. Some women tend to view any affection initiated by men or even boys as being unwanted sexual contact, regardless of the nature, or whether the recipient thinks so.

Contrary to the expressed opinions of some women, men have distinct “warm-fuzzy” feelings, triggered by the hormone oxytocin, just like women do. These are distinct from “hot-and-bothered” feelings some women imagine when they see a man being affectionate with children. When you see a man playing with a puppy or a kitten, he’s not thinking about how to have sex with it.

The overwhelming majority of us also have built-in brakes on our sexual impulses, like having protective, rather than sexual, feelings for pre-pubescent children. Most alpha males seem to have a built-in instinct to react aggressively to sexual exploitation of children. And most men have impulse control commensurate with our stronger sexual drives, sufficient to overcome temptations we don’t have built-in resistance to most of the time.

Some men lack impulse control, but so do some women. Something about glass houses and throwing stones.

There’s also a meme going around feminist circles that you should “respect” other people’s bad moods and not try to help them out of them, as if neurotic and irritable personalities were a good thing.

I do not think I need their permission to raise my kids according to my own good judgment regarding what’s best for them.

Is it OK for a man to kiss his son on the lips, or not? (same rule for daughters? or different?)

If the answer is “no”, that’s what psychologists call a “taboo”. The word originates among the Polynesians, but similar concepts occur in other cultures, such as “haram” in Muslim cultures. English borrowed the Polynesian word because it didn’t already have a word for the concept of something that is socially unacceptable even without a specifically communicated rule prohibiting it. In fact, it might even be a taboo to so much as talk about the taboo!

Taboos are unconscious judgments. People don’t consciously analyze whether we need any particular taboo, or what its functional purpose, if any, is. Some of them have purposes, like taboos on asking people how much money they make, or asking women how much they weigh; you’re trying to save someone’s feelings. Many taboos have no purpose than anyone can credibly explain. For example, food taboos are common in various cultures, and some of them derive from completely made-up cultural fables, like a character in the story ate something, and something bad but completely unrealistic happened to them. Sometimes the taboos last longer than the story, so that many cultures have taboos that they can’t explain why they exist, because there’s no objective evidence they can point to that it causes any problem.

That brings us to the next question:

What is the basis for deciding whether a given action is taboo or not?

Complete this sentence, and then show me the data: Tom Brady shouldn’t kiss his son on the lips because it will definitely cause this specific problem: _____.

Taboos are not necessarily rational, because they’re not the end result of rational processes. To make a long story short, a few are innate, most of them are learned, and a few such as regulating affection tend to be a bit of both.

When they’re learned, they’re learned unconsciously. It’s not your mom telling you were naughty to ask a woman her weight or her age, it’s the horror you sense in her mood when she tells you. You become upset that she got upset over what you innocently said before knowing any better, and then you start reacting the same way she does. It’s a little more complicated than that, because the whole process of sensitizing you to her reactions doesn’t happen all at once, but that’s the process.

Learned taboos are spawned when someone gets upset. They spread virally when other people get upset that someone got upset.

Lip contact is potentially taboo because aside from the possibility of cleanliness taboos (germs!), they are very sensitive. Sensitive parts of our body are more likely to be associated with taboos.

For whatever reason, Tom Brady didn’t learn a taboo against kissing his son on the lips.

It might have to do with being a football player. Masculine men tend to be more affectionate with children, including sons, than less masculine men, contrary to a common assumption. First of all, he probably has strong biological impulses generally, including affectionate ones, due to high hormone levels, second, he probably doesn’t react much to other people’s moods and feelings so he’s less prone to internalizing other people’s taboos , and third, he is probably very secure in his own masculinity and sexuality.

The boy is 11. For most dads, the taboo against kissing him would tend to kick in at puberty, when he starts displaying secondary sexual characteristics like a deeper voice and facial hair. It’s normal for fathers to cuddle and kiss their baby sons, and then get progressively less affectionate as their sons develop more masculine characteristics. I do know some men who still kiss their adult sons. I don’t, but I can’t think of any rational objections. I think it’s normal and natural for human parents to form lifelong bonds with their offspring, and some amount of affection tends to strengthen those bonds.

The next question:

Who gets to decide what’s taboo?

I’ll leave that there. If they’re not harming their kids, I don’t feel the need to police other people’s parenting practices, especially not on subjective criteria.

One important aside comment:

Some taboos have political significance, or are politically-motivated, regardless of merits. Outrage mafias are spawning more and more political taboos at an accelerating rate.

Last question, and maybe the most important not because it’s a big deal, but because it was probably triggered by something that IS a big deal:

Was it wrong to give the boy the impression that the kiss was expected in exchange for favors?

Instead of criticizing Brady, what would make more sense to me would be to address his likely motives for doing so:

  • fear of being taken for granted.
  • fear of not being loved by his kids.

As far as I can tell, most fathers seem to have the same fears. Not without good reason too.

Imagine a rich man who hires nannies to raise his kids, and dispatches them off to boarding school once they’re old enough. That by the way is the exact pattern of most of the very rich. It’s not good for the kids, but in all fairness, the fathers are under pressure to produce wealth, some of it on their own account, and some on other people’s. Imagine for example having the responsibility to manage a multi-billion-dollar transnational corporation. It would probably work better if management responsibilities were allocated in a less hierarchical way, so that super-human expectations aren’t made of any one man, but we’re only starting to figure out how to do that.

Those kids don’t bond to their father. If they bond to anyone, it’s their nannies, but even that gets thwarted with various behaviors of jealous parents. It’s a common problem among the very rich, and causes them to grow up with emotional problems.

It’s not a conscious transaction. The kids don’t think, “well, dear old dad foot the bill for the nannies and room and board. He paid for college. So I guess I owe the old boy love and loyalty.” Uh-uh. Not going to happen. “Love” is an unconsciously-learned response.

Love, by the way, is not an emotion. It’s a complex of other emotions, like being happy when someone is in your presence, or sad when they’re away, or worried about losing them. Your kids won’t be sad when you’re gone if they were never made happy by your presence. Footing the bill for their lunch is too abstract to trigger that feeling.

Fathers are still expected to be breadwinners, but nothing about breadwinning per-se will endear you to your kids. The only reimbursement is genetic continuity; there’s no emotional pay-back.

Instead of granting a favor involving something he does on his own, it works better if you share an activity you both enjoy. Like tossing a football out in the yard together, or wrassling with him, teaching him a skill he wants to acquire, or anything else you might do together that would make him associate his own happiness to your existence in his life. Same applies as regards father-daughter activities.

As a dad, you have to provide for your offsprings’ material needs. You’re under social pressure and legal obligation to do that; any way about it, it’s going to get taken for granted, and there’s nothing you can do about it. But it will contribute to your own happiness and satisfaction with life if you participate directly their happiness and satisfaction with life. You might run into obstacles from other people when you try to do just that, because they want you to optimize economic production, not your own happiness. Resist. You’re welcome.

Taking care of someone else’s material needs won’t make them love you, as unfair as that is. It’s not that the beneficiary is being ungrateful; it’s that love happens through unconscious processes that your behind-the-scenes efforts won’t trigger.

Supplying someone else with perks above and beyond their needs won’t make them love you either. Don’t give kids “stuff’; give them your attention.

Taking care of someone else’s emotional needs is what makes them love you. That’s just the way it is.

Here are some feelings that are natural for your offspring to associate specifically to you: feeling protected by you because you were mindful of their safety and talked to them about it. Having fun with you because you spent time playing with them.

Russians re-learning family values

A happy family posing on the beach.

When the USSR collapsed, conservatives, or more likely “cuckservatives”, declared victory, and dropped what little guard they ever had, never having noticed the subversion of their movement by the Trotskyites Bill Buckley welcomed into the movement. Then millions of communist party members fled Russia and flooded into the western countries that welcomed them with opened arms, thereby causing a bizarre and dramatic switch in roles. The western countries devolved into the God-hating commies and Russia reverted back to traditional values!

Headline news:

Russia to introduce “family values” classes into schools

…Kuznetsova expressed the idea of ​​creating a course called “Family Studies” or “Lessons of Family Happiness” this summer. So, according to her proposal, classes should be aimed at promoting traditional family values ​​and promote the protection of motherhood and childhood.

I recall Creepy Joe Biden gloating about how the Russians were going to die out because of low birth rates and high death rates—similar to how he has been known to gloat about European-Americans dying out. My guess is that now liberated from their soviet masters, their demographic decline has probably hit bottom for now and will eventually start recovering due to new policies like this one.

One mystery to me is why the Chinese culturally recovered from Communism so much faster than the Russians, despite having their own cultural purges like the Great Cultural Revolution. My guess is that it has something to do with having had to survive cultural purges, repressive governments, and civilization-collapse in their own pre-communist history.

Every new dad should know how to do this…

A father holding a crying baby

Knowing how to calm a distraught baby reduces stress on mom, baby, and dad himself, and reduces the risk of abuse. Something else that reduces the risk of abuse is if you don’t react to a baby crying by getting upset yourself. If you handed me a screaming baby while I’m hooked up to stress monitors, I could probably come pretty close to flatlining my stress response, like a Buddhist monk. Learning how to stabilize your own emotions is a topic for another time.

Generally speaking, being bundled up (“swaddled”), white noise and rhythmic motion tend to be soothing to babies. That’s why they often fall asleep during car rides. That’s why new parents have been known to drive around with them to get them to calm down. But you can create rhythmic motion holding the baby against your chest as you rock in a rocking chair, and you can play a white-noise generator or CD in the background.

By the way, all of the conventional advice I got during my own time with newborns was horrible. That’s why I went looking for better.

The Baby-gami book listed below is probably out of print; follow the link and look for a used copy. Aside from wrapping them to keep them warm, snug, and calm, it shows you how to carry them in a fabric. But be careful whenever carrying a baby in a wrap, whether your own, or store-bought: sometimes a strap wraps around their neck and strangles them! Smaller babies carry better if they’re in the FRONT so that you can see them and monitor what’s going on.


Who is raising your kids?

ho spends more time with your kids: you, or daycare workers and teachers? What about you versus the television or computer? American elementary school students spend about 6 1/2 to just over 7 hours in school each day. Some of them stay after school for after-school programs, some come home to an empty house, and…

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Secure your kids’ unfair advantages NOW!

When the media want to express a potentially controversial opinion, they turn it into a question:

Is having a loving family an unfair advantage?

What the headline editor actually means is

Having a loving family is an unfair advantage.

This is an opinion piece published by ABC in Australia. Australia, like the rest of the Anglosphere, is culturally messed-up. It’s basically about how families should be abolished because they create “unfair” advantages for children growing up in nurturing families, as if it were the fault of good parents that some other parents can’t or don’t provide as many advantages to their own children.

For the record, abolition of the family has been tried several times. The Communists (you know, the biggest all-time mass murderers on the planet, in all of history) intentionally broke up at least some families in several countries, and the Zionists tried it on themselves on their Kibbutzim (agrarian or semi-agrarian collectives in Israel). Kibbutzim still exist, though collective child-rearing was apparently mostly phased out by the late 1980s. It is extremely taboo to criticize Kibbutzim in Israel, but apparently some people who grew up in one didn’t appreciate the “favor” and would rather have had a nice, normal family.

Back to the editorial:

Some still think the traditional family has a lot to answer for, but some plausible arguments remain in favour of it. Joe Gelonesi meets a philosopher with a rescue plan very much in tune with the times.

Beware of media references to anonymous authorities. Beware of people who tell you that they’re trying to save something from itself, especially if its none of their business! That’s typically a pretext for a controversial change, or getting rid of it altogether.

So many disputes in our liberal democratic society hinge on the tension between inequality and fairness: between groups, between sexes, between individuals, and increasingly between families.

The power of the family to tilt equality hasn’t gone unnoticed, and academics and public commentators have been blowing the whistle for some time. Now, philosophers Adam Swift and Harry Brighouse have felt compelled to conduct a cool reassessment.

‘One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family. If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.’

The editorial goes on with some kiss-off suggestions for “rescuing” the family as opposed to just abolishing it outright, that entail parents doing less for their own kids, and more for kids collectively, presumably through government institutions.

  • Why should these people get to decide what’s best for the rest of us?! By what right?! Who died and left the philosophers God?!
  • They claim to be motivated by a desire for equality. If that’s even true, which I doubt, so what? Equality isn’t a value. It doesn’t make the world a better place.
  • People aren’t equal, and you can’t make them equal. Whoever has the power to take away from one and give to another is obviously above the peasants who don’t have that power. That’s presumably rather the point!
  • More likely, they want to abolish families for the same reason that farmers don’t usually let their livestock raise their own broods anymore. This is an assault on your personal autonomy. Do not allow this!
  • Aside from thinking of the rest of us as their livestock, the real reason the rich and powerful are open to ideas like these is that they don’t raise their own children anyway; nannies do. It sounds like a good idea to them because it’s similar to something they’re already doing.
  • These philosophers want to take something away from you. The correct response is to defend what’s yours.

What would really happen if these philosophers got their way would be:

  • The wealth gap would INCREASE, not decrease, because you wouldn’t be allowed to make choices for your own benefit.
  • The winners would be cheaters and sociopaths, like in the former Soviet Union where a few high-ranking members of the Communist party ended up as billionaires through mafia activity, and everyone else was a peasant living in squalor.
  • This scheme creates a backwards dependency chain. Quarks do not depend on electrons to maintain their integrity. Electrons do not depend on atoms to maintain their integrity. Atoms do not depend on cells to maintain their integrity. Individuals should not depend on collectives to maintain their integrity; that’s not sustainable. This scheme and others like it are already destroying the integrity of the system.

Obviously, don’t feel guilty giving your children every advantage that you have earned through your own effort!

Coming soon: tips for subscribers from a book about how to help your children, and yourself, survive in the post-employment economy. It’s full of ideas about how to learn marketable skills faster and cheaper than conventional ways.