(For a more recent blog on the virtues ofself-control see https://clarespark.com/2015/12/21/debates-as-pseudo-events-with-pseudo-moderators/)
Perhaps we are a decadent society, and anything we do to change course will be fruitless and too late. I don’t know. But I was dismayed by the “Spring Break” series featured on Sean Hannity’s Fox program this week. The antics at Panama Beach, Florida, reminded me of Fellini’s movie Satyricon that I found so repellent I couldn’t watch it.
Conservatives blame progressivism, the women’s movement, and the counter-culture, for the loss of standards and the subsequent moral laxity that is everywhere apparent. Their remedy: more strong fathers at the head of the family to offset mother’s allegedly softer (baleful) influence.
I view the matter slightly differently. Both parents must, and I emphasize MUST, set an example. By that I refer to acting like grownups: setting boundaries, and providing examples involving self-control (consideration for the feelings and rights of others), involvement with how children are spending their time, and discussing serious questions about the family, schooling, the local community, and the world (at appropriate ages, of course). Democracy makes unprecedented demands on individual would-be citizens, capable of independent thought.
But child-rearing in the nuclear family is about more than sex-roles and attentive parenting. It is also a question of labor, and the mother has often in “traditional” families, borne the brunt of the work. Ask any young mother how much sleep she has gotten since her first child was born. The virtue of a two-parent family is partly found in shared labor, as opposed to the stern father and the all-forgiving mother theme.
In this age of divorce-on-demand and “blended families” it is hard to live up to the expectations of “Victorian” or “bourgeois” families. We can either continue down this path to perdition or we can be more realistic about the objective requirements of marriage and parenthood.