10 April, 2007

Parenting in the Culture

A fine new mother told me today that she would be telling, not asking, her children that they were visiting their grandmother - it's time to get in the car. That's the way it was when we were kids, and that's the way it should be. None of this asking them what they feel like, and listening to their answers.

And how can I argue?

That's largely how I raised my kids, and it is right and true. But now I'm divorced. But now my kids are in public school. But now they watch Southpark and Family Guy. But now they have the friends they have chosen.

They live in a different culture than I did, and radically different than my parents did. And it's harder to fight culture than it seems.

When we were kids, all our friends whined about having to see grandma. *My* peer group thought it stunk. My *kids'* peer group just doesn't go.

That is radically different, and it's hard to fight, because they have reasons that they should not be made to go. We taught them to have good reasons for everything, and now they do. Even stuff we don't like.

Parents used to have a hard job and weak support. Now they have a tougher job, and active opposition. Opposing a culture of reason is vastly more difficult than it seems. Fifty years ago, one was a hero if he gave a reason to his children for his dictats. Now, a reason is not enough. One must persuade his children to obey by appealling to their half-formed reasoning abilities while they're under the influence of peer-reasonings.

It can be done and when done well it is beautiful, but it is exhausting.

May the Lord have mercy on all us parents, and all our children. And may our culture be found wanting and its weaknesses swept away.

2 comments:

Milly said...

Gee I could wake my kids right now and tell them they have to go visit grandpa and they run to the car. That’s not the point is it? ;-}

I do try to give reasons for making them do things that they don’t want to do. I will confess I’ve said “Because that’s why now do it or I’ll get even louder” The dog now knows my mommy’s angry voice and falls into line.

I’m not allowed to watch those shows my son won’t let me, he banned The Simpson’s years ago. He’d walk in and say “Mom are we suppose to be watching this?” He is so strict.

Tari said...

Too true. It *is* exhausting to take the time to talk to our children in these days, explain what's right, and why we do it. Every time I take the lazy way out "Just do it!", I feel a failure.

But when I handled it right...and it sinks in and my son remembers it...well worth the time. I just have to keep reminding myself of this!