Monday, March 20, 2006
Aviva on Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development
Some weeks ago my five-year-old daughter Aviva started using the word "youfish".
Aviva: Daddy, I want to be youfish.
Ben: What's "youfish"?
Aviva: It's the opposite of selfish. Youfish is when you take care of other people, but you don't take care of yourself.
I was a little worried about the not taking care of yourself part, but I didn't push it.
Then, just the other day:
Aviva: Oh, that's bothfish.
Ben: What is "bothfish"?
Aviva: That's when you take care of other people *and* yourself.
Ben: Oh, cool. So don't you want to be bothfish?
Aviva: Daddy. (Looks exasperated but compassionate). First I have to learn to be youfish. Then I have to learn to be selfish. And then I can learn to be bothfish.
Carol Gilligan got nothin' on my girl.
Posted by benrosen at March 20, 2006 10:36 AM
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Did you ask what she is now?
My understanding is that she's concentrating on learning to be youfish, for the present. Which is precisely what Carol Gilligan predicts, in her revision of Kohlberg's stages to address female moral development, IIRC.
Esther points out that Aviva says Esther is bothfish. (Which she is.)
So... one starts out nofish? Notfish?
I think one starts out simply... fish. I've striven to remain that way. Now excuse me while I soak...
I am absolutely charmed & amazed by this young one! There are several people in my life who I believe could use a small lecture on "youfish, selfish, and bothfish".
My immediate reaction (after hearing the truth of what she said) was to think her order was wrong. That one ad to learn to be selfish, then youfish, then bothfish, but, on reflection, I found that selfish was much more difficult for me than youfish and I was actually quite youfish before I learned to be selfish.
I have a friend who runs a Non-Profit Theater Company for Children and we recently discussed exactly this concept---without this perfect terminology. I think that our discussion would have gone better had we known or discovered these words.
I will be adding these words to my lexicon.
Carol Gilligan says, IIRC, that while *boys* may start selfish and need to learn consideration, *girls* are socialized to be self-sacrificing first, and must struggle to gain independence before they can achieve balance... that's what Aviva's order reminded me of...
The terminology itself contains wonderful insights.
Bothfish was described previously by a guy who said:
If I am not for myself, who will be? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?
Aviva has already answered the third question in the only way it can be answered: by her actions.