"The answer to this, in my opinion, is "No." But, as with all resistance, there is a price to pay. Specifically, resistance entails conceiving of parenting as an act of rebellion against American culture. For example, for parents merely to remain married is itself an act of disobedience and an insult to the spirit of a throwaway culture in which continuity has little value. It is also at least ninety percent un-American to remain in close proximity to one's extended family so that children can experience, daily, the meaning of kindship and the value of deference and responsibility to elders. Similarly, to insist that one's children learn the discipline of delayed gratification, or modesty in their sexuality, or self-restraint in manners, language and style is to place oneself in opposition to almost every social trend. Even further, to ensure that one's children work hard at becoming literate is extraordinarily time-consuming and even expensive. But most rebellious of all is the attempt to control the media's access to one's children. There are, in fact, two ways to do this. The first is to limit the amount of exposure children have to media. The second is to monitor carefully what they are exposed to, and to provide them with a continuously running critique of the themes and values of the media's content. Both are very difficult to do and require a level of attention that most parents are not prepared to give to child-rearing.
Nonetheless, there are parents who are committed to doing all of these things, who are in effect defying the directives of their culture. Such parents are not only helping their children to have a childhood but are, at the same time, creating a sort of intellectual elite. Certainly in the short run the children who grow up in such homes will, as adults, be much favored by business, the profressions, and the media themselves. What can we say of the long run? Only this: Those parents who resist the spirit of the age will contribute to what might be called the MOnastery Effect, for they will help to keep alive a humane tradition. It is not conceivable that our culture will forget that it needs children. But it is halfway towards forgetting that children need childhood. Those who insist on remembering shall perform a noble service.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Is the Individual Powerless to Resist?
This is from the end of Neil Postman's book, The End of Childhood.
Posted by Willa at 11:12 AM