There’s Two Kinds of Authority, Partner

Last week, in the post, “Benefit of the Belief“, I brought up the idea that although we parents are the “authority figures” in the family, part of our parenting job is helping our kids become “authorities” on themselves. A lively discussion ensued, which I think was edifying to all involved (and hopefully for some lurkers as well). But over the course of following days and other discussions, I have begun to feel as though I might not have been clearly understood originally. So, in an effort to be as precise as possible and at the risk of being utterly redundant, I am going to revisit the subject of the two kinds of authority in the home (and respecting both) today.

Last week, to illustrate the two different definitions of authority, I wrote: “It’s an interesting word — authority — meaning both an aspect of one’s power over another, and (sometimes though not always simultaneously) also a description of one’s prowess or knowledge in a certain subject area or practice.” And I’d like to highlight here, that although these two can become one, they are not the same thing, by any means.

On the one hand, in parenting our children, we are undoubtedly the “authority figures”. There’s no getting around it — call it karma, luck, divinity, or grace — we were born to be the grown-ups with our particular children this lifetime. And simply that birth position — us first, then our kids — means that we have to look out for, and take care of, and teach, and guide, and curb, and when necessary, yes, restrain, remove, and bar the little ones who came from, or were given to, us. But more on that in a minute…

On the other (and sometimes totally unrelated) hand, in raising children, there are at least two authoritiesª in any given interaction — two experts, two people with “knowledge in a certain subject…”, which in this case is the child. One of them is hopefully the parent — who, based on experience and presence of mind and genuine interest, “knows” the child and what he likes and what he usually wants and needs, etc. Hopefully the parent knows something about how she wants to be with him. Hopefully she has some kind of information upon which to base her understanding of what her child is experiencing as he develops. In this sense the parent is “an authorityª on her own kid”.

The second expert in the room is, of course, the kid.

Don’t believe me? Well just who is it that, barely out of the womb, was able to clue you in when you still didn’t have it quite right? Who is it that taught you everything you know about the child in front of you? Our kids bring so much of who they are with them that we can learn a great deal about how to best help them (and ourselves) by just listening to them, watching, noticing, and respecting their expressions of how they know and show themselves. Our children are also always formulating, growing, and manufacturing belief systems about every single thing that shows up in their lives, including and in this case especially, about themselves. They are learning to be authoritiesª of self. And that is something we really, really want for them.

We want them to know what moves them. We want them to know what they like, and what they don’t like. We want them to know how they feel, and what they think about what happens to them. We want them to want to know themselves. More importantly, we want them to know they can be trusted to know themselves. And maybe even more importantly than that, as parents who assumably want to have a longterm relationship with the children in question, we want our kids to know that we can be trusted when they express who they are, and what they know of themselves. And let’s not forget, they will be teens for a decade of that time…

When our kids are younger, I think we risk doing them a great (potentially lifelong) disservice if we are regularly or continually:

  • interfering with their processes of knowing and laying intellectual claim to themselves and their world, and/or
  • subjugating their clear ideas about themselves to our own, and/or
  • telling them that we know better than they do what they most need, and/or
  • ignoring their requests and expressed needs, and/or
  • coercing, tricking, or threatening them out of their current emotional state when they are upset about a need perceived as unmet.

I think this sort of use of our authority risks undermining our children’s ability to become authoritiesª on themselves. I think not letting them discover and express themselves, or not respecting those pursuits, risks short-circuiting children’s natural conceptualizing of themselves, leaving them feeling as though they cannot be sure what’s them and what is what they have been told to be and do. I think regularly forcing them to bend themselves to our wills can lead to frustration, anger, relationship distress, and even hatred. I also happen to think that the continual subjugation of children’s wills and authorityª of self to those of their parents (no matter how loving those parents may be) sends the erroneous message that what they think and feel about themselves isn’t as important as what the “authority figure” says is true about them. And I know however seductive that may sound when we are speaking about our kids and us, now, we’d all agree that having them learn to mistrust themselves in the face of any other “authority figure” would be potentially dangerous.  That is how things like the Holocaust happen, right?

This is just an aside, but I’ll never get why we as a culture (or group of cultures) insist on parenting children in a way totally different than we will expect them to behave as adults. We spend so much of our children’s youth using any means necessary to force, coerce, trick, or train them to obey commands irrespective of what they think or know or want, then when they are jettison into adult life, we expect them to suddenly take responsibility for their own lives and make their own decisions about themselves as though they had been trained to do that (ever).

So, back to how we express our power over our children… For starters, like I was saying up above, you’re the boss this lifetime, that’s just how it is, so you’ll likely be the one(s) making the decision on this. That’s the bottom line for all parenting choices, right? We will each  find our supporting evidence, if need be, which seeks to underscore that ours is a child-centered approach, but let’s face it, most of any parent’s approach is parent-centered, by default. We couldn’t help that if we wanted to. But in this case, and with an eye for the longest possible run, I hope that each of us finds a balance between using our authority to guide them, and providing space for the blossoming of our children’s authorityª of self.

There will be plenty of opportunities for us to be the know-it-alls in our kids lives. They’ll look to us naturally to fill them in on all kinds of things. They’ll silently rely on us to be the ones who know what happens next, and how to get places, and how to do things. They’ll leave it to us be the experts on making their favorite foods, providing their favorite clothes, and taking them to their favorite places. There will even be times when they won’t want us to know what is best for them, but because of our roles this time around, we will. And there will be times when they won’t agree with us at all about what they need and we will still have to make sure they get it.

We parents have been entrusted will all of the authority in the relationships we have with our kids. We’re the bosses. But we aren’t the only authoritiesª in those relationships. Our kids know what moves them. And like I said before, “we’d better get used to them knowing themselves, if we want our children to reach full maturity.”  And further, if we want them to take the reigns in their own lives as adults — well, we better give them chance to learn how to ride — hadn’t we?

Good luck balancing on your (not too high) horses, partners.


Be well.

About Nathan M McTague, CPCC, CPDPE

I am a full-time parent of three, Writer, Life Coach, Lecturer, Parenting Mentor, and Shamanic Practitioner. In all of the above, I am seeking to assist my fellow humans in their processes of claiming and unleashing their highest potentials.
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16 Responses to There’s Two Kinds of Authority, Partner

  1. You are making a great point here, Nathan. As I watch the education debate, I’m struck that the second person in authority rarely gets a mention. Many people still believe that education is something we “do” to a child.

  2. kloppenmum says:

    I’ve had a couple of reads of this post and have acutally printed it out so that I can put forward some ideas, hopefully co-herently from a top my hoss.
    Firstly, the point you make about the child being the expert then is negated, by saying the adults need to respond to their signals etc in the early days – the baby and young child is not conscious of what they need, but expects the adult to interpret through their body-language, and respond. Can they really be experts, with no conscious understanding of self? All they ‘know’ initially is that something isn’t right: they don’t know if it’s cold or hunger or loneliness. They don’t know anything about themselves apart from discomfort/comfort.
    Yes, we want them to understand themselves fully and completely – by adulthood. Children grow into their self-knowledge or not over many, many years.
    As for your points about what not to do: no 1. I didn’t understand what you were trying to say; 2. Agree 3. Later…4.Acknowledging their requests or needs is important, but it is equally important that they learn to understand that not all of these will be met immediately or even at all – delayed gratification is a key aspect of emotional intelligence, and the reality is I am not taking my five year old to the $2 shop every day to buy him another piece of plastic c**p. Just posted about this. And asking the nine year old to wait 10 15 or even sometimes 30 mintues to eat is usually a reasonable request. 5. Agree
    I don’t know enough about the Holocast to comment on that, however, (I love that word), however, I do know that prejudices and racism happen more often when people have been under-nurtured and over-scheduled than when they have been highly-nurtured and allowed to play for hours. Same with wanting to be part of cliques and wanting an authority figure to follow blindly.
    Back to number three which ties in with your point about why we treat children different to adults and ‘know’ better than them. ummmmm, it’s because children aren’t adults. They are not developmentally able to behave as adults; they do not have sufficient life-experience to understand all consequences; and they do not have brains that think the same as adults. When we spend time reasoning, debating, explaining basic decisions to children, we aren’t helping them to understand themselves and we’re not treating them with respect. In fact, I would say doing these things is having the opposite effect. It undermines all the good work done in a high-nurturing, high-play home; and completely throws an under-nurtured, over-scheduled child into bratdom.
    This is because children are meant to be as non-conscious as possible. Yes, if our nine year old makes a healthy breakfast for himself that’s fine – he nonconsciously made a decision and followed through. But equally yes, we will make him his breakfast in the morning and hand it to him if he doesn’t make that decision. He is probably thinking about far more important things for his development – like solving a problem for his lego or how to handle a tricky situation with a friend, than what to have for breakfast. By interrupting his nonconcious thoughts at that point to ask him if he would prefer weetbix or toast, would mean he would lose an opportunity to better understand himself and direct his own learning…he might never get back to that particular moment of processing. Likewise, a child who is younger than nine (some say older) cannot physically tell if they are too cold or not (aside from extremes) – so why would I negotiate as to whether they should take a coat – it’s cold, they need a coat whether they realise it/ want to or not. Children can and do put themselves to bed when they are tired, nothing exciting is going on, and they don’t have electricity around to muck up their biological clocks.
    The more conscious thinking a child does in the early years almost directly co-relates to how many problems parents have with those children as teenagers. The longevity project talks about this with academics, but I also believe it is the same for all conscious thinking. I know some adults (which is always far more important to me than all the theory and research in the world) who were once highly-nurtured, high-play, under-directed children, and yes they did find their way in their 20s, but they mostly speak of feeling lost and getting into dangerous situations as teenagers. Not of feeling empowered, respected or self-knowing. And as you say, Nathan, they’re teenagers for 10 years…
    over to you partner…

    • Ok, Karyn, I see you came packing heat… 😉

      I know you might not like this, but I do agree with most of what you write. One side issue I happen to have is that you seem to keep taking the worst case scenario of what I mean. Then you pick another example as your counter-point, but I agree with it… It makes debating with you about it significantly more slippery. But bullet by bullet, then:

      * What I meant about babies being experts on themselves is as you say, they recognize and communicate when we have addressed their needs (or not). And often we have to look to them to tell us if we have gotten right. You say babies “EXPECT the adult to interpret through their body language and respond…” I expect you’ll want to take that back, now, but I think you are more correct than you meant. Believe me, though, I am not trying to say that any baby is sitting around thinking, “If only Mom would take this itchy hat off of me, then I would be fine… Why can’t she just figure this out? Guess I’ll have to scream.”

      * “Yes, we want them to understand themselves fully and completely – by adulthood. Children grow into their self-knowledge or not over many, many years.” I am not saying anything that contradicts this in any way. Maturation is a very long process for humans, but I would disagree with using this is an excuse to ignore our children’s expressions of preference or self-knowledge at any age.

      * My #1: You didn’t get. I was saying we risk doing our children a disservice by regularly or continually interfering with them learning about themselves and formulating their own ideas about who they are, what the world is like for them, and how they fit into that world.

      * My #3: Which does not relate to my side point about why we treat children differently than we expect them to be as adults — unless one mis-takes my intent in the aside. My #3 — that regularly ignoring kids’ requests is a disservice to them — is one of the ways we treat them differently… but that was not offered in relation. To relate them as you have, though — ignoring requests, even if you aren’t going to agree, is just rude, and not something we ought to be modeling to our kids. We don’t want (or abide) them ignoring our requests, do we? And that is precisely what I mean about treating them differently than we expect them to become. Not that we expect them to be adults, or make adult decisions, or know the world in an adult way. But we parent them by behaving in a manner that we don’t want them to emulate. That strikes me as remarkably illogical. If we want them to be respectful adults, we must show them respect — what it looks like, feels like, etc.. Their first and primary method of learning is mimicry — not listening to us pontificate about “respecting our authority”, and not by continually being told what to do without regard to their needs or preferences.

      * Again, I am not saying that “children should be treated as adults” as you keep responding. I said that we treat them “differently than we [later] expect them to be as adults”. And further that if we don’t let them express themselves some (while they are still in our care) and get used the idea of knowing who they are, what they like, what they want, what they need, etc., then how can we expect them to suddenly know all that when they are “adults on their own”? I firmly believe that these muscles of adulthood are ones that we already let them begin flexing in some ways as soon as they are able; and that we will help our kids in the long run by continuing to find methods to work those muscles along the way to the time when our kids will need to rely on them solely. Of course, we treat children differently than we treat adults — it would just be silly to do otherwise. But that doesn’t mean we have to treat them as incapable of self-knowledge or self-determination. They’re children growing into adulthood — not puppies who will only ever become dogs.

      * Speaking of self-determination, you haven’t met my youngest daughter, but this child knows what she wants at 3 years old. She knows exactly, more often than not. And like any adult, even if she isn’t sure what she does need, she is certain about what isn’t it. She consciously decides things all the time. She also spontaneously and without conscious thought makes assertions that may not be strictly classifiable as conscious. But I see it everyday. And I think I remember the same in her sisters. Our allowing the wee one to decide if she wants to wear a coat (as we walk out the door) neither means she will be cold, nor that she won’t chose to put on a coat at some time. She’s 3, she can choose that, and we let her because, frankly, she exerted her clear will about getting to decide that. She will say, “NO”, if we just come at her with a coat. But if we ask her which coat, she’ll say which one 9 times out of 10. On that 10th time, she may wait until we are outside, then put on the coat that we brought (because we are the parents taking responsibility for the 3 year old). If she was 1 or even 2, we wouldn’t be asking about it, we’d be narrating it instead — “Ok we’re putting on the coat now…”. In our home, Echo, the 3 year old, chooses. Now, Bella, when she was 3, was dreaming or playing at all moments, so we just put her coat on with no discussion at all — just tap one arm (she put it out and we put on the sleeve), then tap the other arm (and she put it out, etc.), and away we went. Our approach changes with each kid, and as we’ve gotten clearer about what is important to us. Forcing Echo to put on a coat, when she will choose it herself if we let her (do the choosing she wants to do), would just be dumb, as far we are concerned. Your example of a kid putting himself to bed is the same as choosing a coat to me. It comes from a self-realization. And that is precisely what I want to afford my girls opportunities to have.

      * Now about this whole conscious, non-conscious thing — I’m not sure I buy all that. I’d love to hear/read more about what is meant by the terms, because I don’t get how the son “deciding” to make a healthy breakfast could be described as a non-conscious decision. The terms get further muddled for me by talk of the son thinking about other far more abstract things than what sounds good for breakfast right now… Also, I did not and would not suggest interrupting the child’s deep thoughts for a quandary about breakfast — I can wait ’til that far away look in her eye subsides and she comes back to the present. I still feel pretty sure that a lot of what our kids are thinking is much more conscious than we yet realize. I’d go so far as to say, super-coscious, but that is another matter…

      * Also, I am curious, what basis do you have for the relationship you establish between conscious-thinking kids and problem teenagers outside of the discussion of academics (which I suspect was launched in that arena to argue against trading play for more “instructive learning”)? Of course in an academic setting, we want to argue for more non-conscious play! But that isn’t at all the same thing as consciously thinking leading children into “feeling lost and getting into dangerous situations as teenagers.” Again, I think you are assuming a lot of permissive, bondless, wordless parenting is going on, just because I say we ought to give space to their self-knowledge and expression. In any case, I don’t see the correlation between being given opportunities to make age-appropriate choices (and having to think about it some [on purpose]) and our children being at greater risk in their teen years. In fact, I feel convinced from my own experience and study that by letting them express who they are, and respecting those assertions, (rather than continually demanding silent obedience to my will) is what will keep them from going along with their teen peers pushing them to obey (a different set of rules) later on.

      * And again, I think our kids do know themselves (little by little), and can decide about themselves (little by little), but I have never quit being the parent. And when I have felt that I actually did know better than my daughters what was best for them (say, with respect to sleep), then I made sure they got what they needed, whether they wanted me to or not. That (as I said in the post) is just the way the roles were cast this lifetime, and I accept that. But I don’t need to lord over them to prove it, or to be “parent” enough.

      As has become the theme lately for you and I, without taking the extreme as the common example, we are more in agreement than it might otherwise appear, Karyn. We’ll just have to keep comparing notes as we get to and through those teen years…

      I gotta get back to the range… Yeeeee Haaaw!

      Be well, fellow pioneer.

  3. hakea says:

    I do agree. My work with kids has given me insight into how clever and responsive they are when they are given the opportunity to communicate their own needs. Young ones, dysfunctional ones, traumatised ones – they can be very impressive. But I am a strengths based, solution-focused practitioner, with a bit of narrative therapy thrown in for good measure. It breaks my heart when I see teachers treat kids like cattle (upon reflection, they might treat cattle better). As I said before on another of your posts, it doesn’t mean I let them take over the assylum, but a lot can be learnt from listening to kids.

    In my field it’s called ’empowerment’. I actually despise that word because it still has the word ‘power’ in it. I prefer the word “enabling”. I know it’s semantics, but I find it changes my focus.

    Brilliant post. Sometimes it’s hard to put into words what is done with heart.

  4. kloppenmum says:

    Just re-read my bit: didn’t mean to sound quite that intense.
    The thing is Nathan, I think you’re aiming this at parents who are generally under-nurturing and highly/overly regimented, partly because of who they are and partly because under-nurtured kids often show problem ‘seeming needing strict order in order to be humane’ behaviours due to lack of decent brain wiring.
    I’m coming from the lets do it all perspective, in that children biologically need extreme nurturing, extreme time in play and nonconscious decision making opportunities, and extreme (but few) boundaries – thou shalt go to bed when you are tired, thou shalt wear a coat when it is cold etc. Ye old Cro-Magnon parents would have been highly unlikely to be treating their children like adults – survival would have depended on instant and non-questioning of authority.
    My big concern is the negotiation, reasoning and debating with small children. They are not adults, they don’t/can’t think like adults, so why would we treat them like adults?

    • See my previous comments, Karyn.

      And I’ll reiterate, giving kids a chance to choose some is not the same as “treating them as adults” by any means. I think it is treating them as humans. Little though they may be.
      Also, I think Cro-Magnon parents would expect immediate obedience where and when it was necessary (just as I would and can rely on because I don’t ask for it all the time — the girls know when I do, that it’s important). Cro-Magnons wouldn’t have needed immediate obedience without question, exploration, or explanation, all the time… In fact, probably not even as often as we do, since their environs were likely more kid-friendly than ours…


  5. kloppenmum says:

    Hi Nathan,
    I’m not going to take you up point by point, because I agree, I think we are generally on the same page. I don’t think that I am imagining the worst case scenario, but perhaps that’s what I am honing in on.What I am loving about debating with you, and hope you feel the same, is that it is making me really think about what we do and believe, and I really enjoying pinning you down on things – like for instance the baby issue here. The great difficulty is writing what would be so much easier communicated in person!
    Of course, I am going to pull you up on a couple of things: I do acknowledge our children’s needs and requests, I don’t rudely ignore them. I will stop what I am doing and make sure they see that I have heard them, however, there are simply times that it is not appropriate for their requests to be granted, e.g. if our eldest wants to eat something for instance when I am minutes away from serving a meal which we eat together as part of ritual each day. I agree hearing them is immensely important, however, their understanding that I hold the entire family in my hands is also important (older two).
    As to the conscious – nonconscious debate I think we’re on the same page speaking another language. (I think I’ll have to leave this one here, but just to help a bit, I hope: my son deciding to make his own breakfast is non-conscious when done in the moment, as being in the zone. The more time they spend in that space the better.)
    I love that our children make a multitude of spontaneous age appropriate decisions every day – yet I suspect what we think is age appropriate might be different.
    I wouldn’t dream of contradicting you about Echo because I don’t know her or you and even then I would keep my opinions to myself!
    And yes, we will have to keep in touch through those teenage years!
    And lastly, I’m not here to convince you of my point of view, rather test my own ideas and hopefully provide you with opportunities to do the same. Your responses are great and I appreciate them a great deal. It’s now 1.17 am and I am going back to bed!

    • Ok, Karyn, so now I can more clearly see the common ground between us. And although that is not always an appropriate aim, I generally tend toward seeking it because I think there is more common ground between people (even warring people) than we usually admit.

      Just so we’re clear — nothing you’ve said thus far has struck me as “a bit much”, even if I have thought you a were “assuming the worst” about any one of my assertions. As I wrote another time, here, I rely on you to help me know my own balance. So have at it, any time and every time.

      And YES you are correct to remember that my post this time is less for someone like you who has explored this boundary (or set of them) in your parenting, and more for those who tend to over-parent, and too strictly demand compliance on every little thing. Those parents can use some stretching, and I hope they are coming to me to help them find their balance(s).

      Also, if my 7 or 10 year old want to snack right before dinner, I am going to request that they wait until dinner (“which is in five minutes…”). And unless they want more information, they are off on their merry way. If they want more information, I will give it to them. Again and again if necessary. And if they want to lament because they are hungry, I will hear that out and give them empathy for that without changing my decision in this case. There are plenty of times when they want (to have or do) something they simply cannot. And, again, that is just the way our roles work this lifetime, and that’s fine. But there are lots of other cases, though, where although I had a different plan to begin with, they have spoken up about their preferences and those have been honoured instead of me forcing my current agenda. And I not only want to honour their preferences if possible, but I also want to remain ever-flexible, and capable of reconsidering my own requests of them. My point again (from the beginning) is that sometimes they are right and we ought to comply with them, or the very least they are entitled to assert their ideas and be treated respectfully while doing so.

      I still am in the dark on the conscious, non-conscious thing I think (can you suggest further reading?), because I see the “decision” to make breakfast as a conscious one, even if it is quick. I think of “non-conscious decisions” as something like rubbing your nose when it itches. Aside from that sticking point (mostly semantic, I think, but still potentially pivotal), I do agree that kids receive huge benefits from every second they spend in absorbed, loosely-conscious but heavy brain activity play.

      I do think we have some differing ideas about age appropriateness. And I’d say I have different opinions about what age is appropriate for various things between my own three girls. Some things are ok for the 7 year old that I actually feel less comfortable with the 10 year old doing on her own. And there are loads of things the 3 year old does now, that I didn’t think was ok for her older sisters to do at her age, as well as, loads of things the 10 year old got to do when she was younger that seemed less appropriate for the younger ones as they’ve come up…

      And I know you aren’t trying to change me, or force me into anything, Karyn. So sweet of you to address that. I agree we are all here to challenge and grow ourselves. Hope that’s working for all!

      Be well, kind lady.

  6. kloppenmum says:

    I do sincerely apologise, if that was all a bit much.

  7. I like this exchange. I’d add one observation. Of course children are developing and are not adults, but psych research has shown that children are far more capable of critical thinking than many people know. Recently, I saw film of Todd Kashdan (George Mason University) demonstrating a 4 year old experiencing and describing the complex phenomenon of cognitive defusion . I would say that as a child I would be very frustrated by being marginalized and underestimated. So, children can reason abstractly, but of course not everything is debatable in my house.
    One other point: Discussions about “why” do help my children learn to reason and they are good for our relationships. I feel like I’m respecting my kids when I explain “why” when I have to say no. Bedtime is the hard time here. Four kids trying everything to delay bedtime.

  8. I follow a great guy on Twitter called Lain2008. I found this on his site:
    “They say that children are immature. Well, immaturity is a very odd thing!
    An old man of seventy says that a man of forty is immature; people from rich
    countries say that those from poor countries are immature. The bourgeoisie
    say that the workers are immature…It’s just the same when we say that
    children are immature. And, it’s not true; it’s a way of keeping children down.”

    – Janusz Korczak

  9. Kloppenmom, I think this is a great exchange.

  10. kloppenmum says:

    Awesome! I tend to forget that you can’t see me nodding away at my computer. 😉 I think, in the end I didn’t acknowledge the spirit of the post, and for that I do apologise. I do hear you on the spirit of the post and think we are probably very similar parents overall.
    After some consideration, I think it’s only this point about negotiation and reasoning with young children, on which we differ. Possibly, that’s because we had our ‘Echo’ first in that I get the impression she and the Hare are very similar, and he is now very nine! But I stand very firmly on this single point. Again it might be semantics, but I wouldn’t reason or negotiate with the older children either – but I do take their requests into consideration, and I make sure that they feel that I have heard them. I do explain, at a different time – so that we can all bring greater knowledge (self and for the whole family) to the table.
    The conscious/non-conscious thing is a dissertation or book – I just can’t explain that in a comment, maybe not even a post. And again it’s terminology that needs to be very clear, so we are all on the same page.
    Thanks for another lively debate. Have a great day! 🙂

  11. kloppenmum says:

    Oh, and…When I talk about treating children as adults inappropriately, it’s the negotiation and reasoning to which I refer.

  12. kloppenmum says:

    At the risk of confusing things further, and as briefly as I can…
    1. Unconscious behaviours – breathing, heartbeat etc
    2. Non-conscious behaviours – being in the zone/non-verbal state of being/bliss
    3. Conscious – thinking which involves words, making comparisons, rationalising, reasoning etc.


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