The Evolution Gap and Rule Five

Jul 27, 2023

Do Not Let Your Children Do Anything That Makes You Dislike Them

The fifth rule from Jordan Peterson’s book “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos” guides parents not to let their children do anything that makes them dislike them. Analyzing this rule through the Evolution Gap—the disparity between our evolutionary past and our modern society—provides an intriguing perspective on the evolution of parenting and its implications in today’s world.

Our ancestral hunter-gatherer societies practiced communal parenting, a setup where child-rearing was shared among the adults of the tribe. This close-knit network provided diverse role models for the child and shared the burden of discipline among many adults. However, with societal changes and the emergence of nuclear families, parenting has become an almost exclusive responsibility of the parents, particularly in Western societies.

This societal shift brings to light an instance of the Evolution Gap in parenting: the pressure of being the sole disciplinarian, which was not a role naturally performed by a single individual or a pair of individuals in our evolutionary history. In many cases, this burden may lead to a reluctance to discipline or inconsistency in enforcing rules, which may result in children adopting behaviors that are not socially acceptable.

Peterson’s fifth rule reminds parents of their duty to love and nurture their children and guide their behavior. This guidance helps children develop social skills that allow them to interact positively with others and form meaningful social relationships.

In a broader context, Peterson’s rule encourages parents to see themselves as their children’s guide to societal norms and expectations. In doing so, they help bridge the Evolution Gap by instilling social adaptability in their children. This adaptability allows the children to thrive in a world vastly different from our evolutionary past.

However, it’s essential to acknowledge that this rule’s application should be approached with care and understanding, avoiding overly strict or authoritarian parenting styles. The goal is not to suppress a child’s individuality but to ensure that they learn to behave in a way that is respectful to others and, ultimately, beneficial to their own personal and social development.

In conclusion, through the lens of the Evolution Gap, Peterson’s fifth rule underlines the significance of parents in guiding their children’s social development to help them adapt to modern societal norms. It stresses the importance of maintaining a balance between nurturing and discipline in parenting, a critical aspect of assisting children to navigate a world vastly different from our ancestral environment.

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