Parental responses to the question “How do you decide when to compromise?”

The prompt:

“What heuristics do you use for things like risking your life, your lifelihood, deciding which hills to die on, when to bend vs. break, etc? Or, more briefly, what advice would you give to a new dad who has to decide between principles and his duty to his family?”

First response:

The most systematized I’ve ever thought about it was when you did a blog post about a father’s role to his family. [Ed:] I’ve found I get a lot more done if I figure out the first couple of steps, execute them and then figure out the next steps. After all, you don’t wait until all the lights are green before you start driving to your destination.

This has obvious drawbacks. My kid’s playhouse is a full foot higher than a standard slide is designed for because the slide installation is one of the final steps and I didn’t consider it before I hung the joists. But hey, it’s built, it’s sturdy and it’s pretty close to how it’s supposed to be and that’s a good metaphor for how I became and function as a dad. The first couple of steps were very easy to figure out and thoroughly enjoyable to execute. Alas, there were 40,000 more steps that I vaguely understood existed but didn’t consider too closely.

So I haven’t consciously decided what principles I’ll grip tight and which I’ll let slip for the sake of the family. It’s well and good to say that I wouldn’t renounce Christ for anything, but anything is a huge category. I heard there were North Korean Christians that didn’t renounce Christ even as the military tortured and killed their children in front of them. That’s the most extreme thing I can imagine anyone would face.

That’s not to say that I might renounce Christ one day. That’s an easy hard line to understand and accept no matter the consequences. In theory. Ask me again if I ever get quartered for Jesus.

Each individual situation will take wisdom and discernment so keep those skills sharp. Or at the very least stay involved with wise and discerning people so that you have someone to go to when the need arises.

I would also add that one should look for a date before one plans for children.

That’s rude, he knows I’m sensitive about that.

Second response:

I’ll take a crack- [Ed: Gay.]

If it’s ego related, walk away. Take the L. Especially when it’s a sudden threat. Assuming it’s only a threat to you/your ego and not your loved ones. Sudden threats from unknowns are unimportant long term.

Planned or expected events that require a decision are your time to shine.

I think this eliminates nearly all your life/death and principle type of issues from catching you off guard. It’s probably also part of our nation’s problem. Avoiding conflicts is generally advisable, wise and good for passing on your genes.

With that said, addressing small things early has paid dividends with my kid. Tackling difficult conversations with my wife early prevents resentment and confusion. It’s clear that corrective action done early enough will avoid bigger issues.

Specifics complicate this advice, so good luck!

Third response:

I’ll be simply following my natural inclinations for food, security and like-minded community. Children are born with reason and you’re there to guide them thru the chaos, most situations can be resolved with simple discussions and light hearted banter. Hills to die on? Custody, exposure to deviants and injections/”public health” mandates.

A fun exercise I like to do with my sons is to steelman poor arguments and have them debunk it, or defend their views. It’s pretty fun. If you prevent them from succumbing to the mass-hypnosis, you win, the rest is up to them.

My takeaways so far:
1) It’s situational, so keep your wits about you.
2) Prefer action. You don’t wait until all the lights are green before you start driving to your destination.
3) Maintain relationships with wiser and more discerning people so you can get advice when unexpected disaster looms.
4) Default to swallowing your pride and taking the L.
5) Moral conflicts that you can see coming are easy wins, so take the trouble to think through your negotiating position ahead of time and pick up this W.
6) Having difficult conversations with your wife earlier saves a lot of trouble later. (Presumably also with your kids as they get older.)

I note that this advice mirrors the advice for engaging in violent self-defense, i.e. train to fight, default to walking away, and tacitly maneuver to avoid being cornered. There is probably a group/cultural equivalent to the self-defense pyramid that ought to be made explicit. Just find/replace “criminal” with “activist” in that article and you’re most of the way there. E.g.

The foundation that the pyramid stands upon is knowledge and understanding. This means knowing how the Jews and NGOs think and what they need to succeed. These aren’t good people gone bad, they’re bad people gone worse. You also need to understand what provokes activism, what activism really is and that it comes in many different levels. Without this fundamental understanding, there can be no cohesiveness in what you do to protect your in-group (and their ancestral lands).

[Edits in bold]

Probably the best way to build this pyramid is to read forensic analyses of cultural destruction (Glubb in particular) and reverse engineer it. The institutions that were subverted last (patriarchy, pro-natalism, anti-immigration) were probably also the top of the pyramid.

I also note, anthropologically, that all three respondents to the prompt are relying heavily on instinct to answer these sorts of questions. That could be interpreted as good or bad, depending on your ideology, but I’ve decided to simply note that it’s likely a feature of people who are reproductively successful in this time and place. It likely generalizes to most times and places, and then again there’s a small possibility it doesn’t.

My additions:
1) Have priorities ahead of time for extremely stressful situations. Being anti-vax may be worth your child being ostracized, but you aren’t going to chop their arm off like Colonel Kurtz.
2) Tell your wife explicitly where the “hard no” lines are, what sacrifices are acceptable to maintain those lines. The price of the sacrifice you’d pay determines how much of a hard no it really is for you (North Korea example).
3) Learn about negotiation. “Start With No” by Jim Camp has a good reputation around here. I’d throw in some references too for the more tense “verbal judo” situations.
4) For specific situations, tell your wife where your initial bargaining position is and what outcome you’re trying to get.
5) Learn about your enemies like an intelligence agent. Each person’s moral core exists on a spectrum from selfish (individualistic/psychopathic) to tribal (group/ideological). Bureaucrats can be bribed but not bluffed. Decision makers can be bluffed. Ideologues can be misdirected. Primitive people scare easily. Petty criminals are unerringly selfish and psychopathic. Religious people are very tribal and care a lot about reputation. Bullies won’t stop escalating but they won’t risk reprisals either.

Here’s a funny cartoon to close out the post.

About Aeoli Pera

Maybe do this later?
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1 Response to Parental responses to the question “How do you decide when to compromise?”

  1. aiaslives says:

    – If you meet like-minded parents or join a parenting group you agree with, don’t believe them blindly! “I wanna carpool” and “Wanna co-tutor your kid?” parents are regular offenders.

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