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Children are conservative

Children are conservative in wanting to preserve the best of the past and the present. They do not like divorces or family upsets that change things for the worse. They like to go to the same place a thousand times. They like to eat the same things every day. They adore treasured family traditions and they want them to be repeated in the same way. They are loyal to the people and things they love. They are shocked and dismayed when they learn the old house where beloved traditions were conducted is up for sale.

They have distinct views on what is fair and unfair, and they can tell the difference unless they have been harmed by adults. They are early and small champions of liberty. They instinctively feel at the age of five that it is for them to decide whether they will wear rubber boots to the art museum, and they are surprisingly good at living with the consequences when they do.

Children are realists. They do not like change unless it is demonstrably for the better (sometimes not even then), and they cannot be fooled by slogans that tell them otherwise, unlike the “mature” adults in their lives. They welcome adventures, but not life-threatening ones.

For all these reasons they would not give very high marks to British historian Ben Wilson’s Making of Victorian Values. Children like Victorian values. They see nothing romantic in a dad with the “forgivable human foibles” (Wilson’s phrase) of liking too many women who are not their mother and too much gin. They detest hypocrisy, and lies.

Children have made Harry Potter a bestseller. Perhaps one reason is that fantastically magical Hogwarts is built on Victorian values such as telling the truth, doing your best, being kind.

Note: I feel sure someone else has had this idea about children, but I don't know who.

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