The boot camp of life
July 25, 2008
In the book, Daily Afflictions, Andrew Boyd uses many concepts and phrases which are eye catching. One such phrase is "The boot camp of life." In the glossary at the back of the book, Boyd, defines this phrase as - "A traditional child-rearing practice in which the child is trained to handle the dysfunction of adult institutions by being relentlessly drilled in dysfunction by his own family." p. 91
As a therapist as well as in my personal life, I am continually struck by the observation that parents don't deny the dysfunction that their children are subjected to but excuse it as being good for them. There are many phrases such as "what doesn't kill you will make you stronger." "Compared to what I have to endure this is nothing." "He better get used to it now so he is prepared for real life." etc.
I have referred to this as the callous theory meaning that parents excuse the abuse that their children suffer as "toughening them up" so that he/she can better deal with abuse later on in life.
I don't think there is any research evidence to back up this callous theory - that abuse and dysfunction earlier in life makes one more resilient later on in life. In fact, the research evidence appears to be the opposite, that abuse and dysfunction earlier in life is a risk factor for problems later on in life.
This callous theory is part of what John Bradshaw named "poisonous pedagogy".
One of reasons that my wife and I decided to homeschool was to protect our children from the institutional dysfunction that occurs in Middle school. Schools are bureaucratic institutions which are very self serving and subject children to dysfunction which mirrors the dysfunction in families, - bullying, cliques, playing favorites, mind numbing worksheets and busy work, obedience and compliance with requirements that are artificially imposed, loss of control over one's own life, disrespect, and fear being used as a motivating factor.
In the criminal justice system, boot camps began being popular 25 years ago where rigorous physical exertion and browbeating inmates for compliance was thought to bring about compliance, obedience, and self discipline. Research has found that boot camps don't work. The belief that dysfunction and abuse is somehow good for people is similarly erroneous. Whilte the boot camp of life is an eye grabbing metaphor, one would do well to question, deconstruct, and dismiss this idea as beneficial for facilitating the development of a high quality, healthy, happy life.
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Posted by: PhD UK | February 14, 2011 at 03:05 AM