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I have been thinking lately about how the relationship between parents and children changes over time. It seems that I have noticed that some parents panic as they noticed they are losing influence over their children and clamp down over all areas of freedom the child has. It seems to me that when this happens, a parent exchanges a long term influence over the child as they grow and discover their freedom for a small time of complete control.
For me, it makes me think about being deliberate about the set of things I designate as within the child's freedom and those things that I regulate. Finally, there is another category for me: areas under observation. Using these three categories, I can talk to my kids about their authority, responsibility, and freedom. It also helps them understand that there are some areas that I give them provisional freedom because I fully intend to release them to full freedom if they prove they can use it wisely. Then, I don't take back ones they have proven just to punish them for failing in the provisional areas.
Courtney and I have a running conversation regarding the growing split between the educated, disciplined, and wealthy and those that are none of these. The gist is that we are on the cusp of a cultural shift. I see the cultural events of the 60's as the apex of cultural ideas that were born around the time of the French Revolution. Like an ocean, these waves have come in and gone out with growing intensity finally washing ashore radical feminism, the sexual revolution, the complete breakdown of the family, extreme individualism, radical capitalism, and complete secularization.
Since the 60's our cultural elites have been seeking to work into the dough of our society the final products of modernism. I believe there are many that are finding these absurd. They are looking back to models of traditional societies, traditional religion, and traditional values. The rise of influence of evangelicals in the political scene is only the beginning. Beneath the surface is brewing a much more radical change.
I believe that even in many secular homes, children are being raised deliberately differently than their parents were raised. They are being raised to value family, creation, and a higher sense of duty to their community. Now cultural change is a gradual process, and usually periods can only be identified in retrospect. However, I think the turn of the millenium will be seen as the move from post-modernism to the retro-victorian era.
I think the children born in the first 10 years of this millineum are going to make a radical difference in this world. I know that I am praying that three of them will. Now it will not be all of the children. Unfortunately, most of the children of this period will receive poor educations. The will develop bad habits of body, spirit, and mind. Many will be verbally abused by their single mothers or sexually by their single mother's boyfriends. It seems obvious to me that our political structures cannot survive this fissure. While I have libertarian leanings, I question how long they will be relevant. The privileged children will have better educations than their poorer counterparts. They will have psycho-social advantages that border on deterministic success guarantees. They will come to dominate every aspect of society. It is really only natural.
They will recognize that with power comes responsibility, and they will seek to be the responsible stabilizing force in society. Those below will welcome it. Gradually, society will morph into a caste system not unlike that before the modern era in western society. The aristocrats will enjoy many privileges, but they will also consider themselves responsible for those below them. The best of them will treat them like their own children. The worst will maintain their serfs with the minimum that is their duty.
Strangely enough, all of this will seem natural. Both the aristocrats and the peasants will begin to see that this is the natural order of things. Rights doled out by class will not be considered unfair. It will be considered just. No doubt there will be instances of jealousy and envy, but as a whole all will accept their place.
Now I will reserve judgement as to whether I think this is a good arrangement. For the most part, I just see this as an inevitable step in western society. To some extent, it is a return to our roots. There is much room for good, and there is much room for evil. I doubt that as a whole this society would be much worse or much better. I believe the most important factor is how Providence chooses to move his children into places of power. Were the Gospel to permeate my future scenario, things could be much better. I will be praying to this end, and that Gage Augustin, Soren Basil, and Pax Athanasius will be tools in the Master's hand as he carves history into the stone tablets of time.
As with most of my theories, I would have a hard time offering anything but antectdotal observations from music, movies, articles and books. But, this is how all great ideas are born. The hard research is what comes next. Maybe someday I will realize my dreams of entering the academy. Until then, I have the benefit of making lots of unsupported assertions.
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I just got finished watching my two older son's (4 and 2.75) repeatedly taking turns slugging each other in the back and saying, "Ouch." Boys really are different than girls.
This makes me think of a conversation I heard recently. I heard Soren crying. Then I heard Gage say that he was sorry. Soren said that he did not forgive him. Gage said, "You have to." There was about a two-second pause. Then Gage said, "Do you want to play shoot-down (a game where you just try to knock each other down)?" Soren says, "Sure." Then they happily start to run around and knock each other down.
I am sure there are great things about having girls, but I sure enjoy the quick recovery of the hearts of boys.
Updated: Shortly after I wrote this I came across this blog entry from the JollyBlogger.
More photos of Pax and family mere hours after his birth are available on our flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bheathr/
Perhaps the title is melodramatic, but this is the blogosphere. Gage and Soren both love Pax, but Soren is just a tiny bit ambivalent. I don't know if the little vingette I am about to share is due more to Soren's and Gage's personalities or their different relationship to the new one.
Pax was born at 12:45pm on Friday Jan 27. He weight 8.0 oz, and measured 19in in length.
He and Courtney are both doing well. Courtney is an amazing baby deliverng machine. She looks as good as ever only a day after. As you can see, Pax, also quite a looker, if I do say so myself, has quite a head of dark hair. More pictures are coming, but I need to get them from Courtney's dad. I borrowed the professional camera to record the moment.
For the most part these were all great men. Like all of us, they have their stains, but they were used by God to shape what all Christians believe even today.
Thanks for all your prayers. Praise be to God! Human life is an amazing thing!
The maturing of a child is a bittersweet processes. Lately I am realizing that my relationship with Gage is changing. As he becomes more and more capable, I am no longer required to wait on him, well, as a baby or toddler. However, I lose the pleasure of spending non-hurried time dressing him or accompanying him to the bathroom.
Sometimes I am overwhelmed at all there is to learn, and know and experience and share. I have been having a great conversation with my wife about marital roles. I started looking at a Great Courses brochure and saw courses on the "Great Books" and human language development. When I walked back into the room with iTunes playing, it was playing a great song, Letters to God, by Boxcar Racer.
It makes me want to quit everything and go to grad school for philosophy or back to seminary to get my M. Div. Then I remember that
What was it like to be a child? What do Gage and Soren think as they are going to sleep at night. I hate it, but I am getting old enough that many parts of my childhood are becoming opaque to me. It is kind of sad.
It is particularly sad when