Thursday, October 05, 2006

More disasters of secular modern rationalism

From The (London) Times:

Children never had it so good
By Rosemary Bennett
The new generation of 'super parents' is providing the best possible start in life

The Seventies were an idyllic time for family life, just one long round of happy family dinners, family walks and fun family games, while today’s children are a generation of latchkey kids growing up emotionally deprived and dysfunctional, right? Er . . . wrong, actually.

Far from being self-serving workaholics with no time for their children, modern parents spend four times as much time with them as the mothers and fathers of 30 years ago.

The have become a generation of super-parents who devote almost all their time away from work to their offspring, according to research. Typically parents today spend 99 minutes a day with children under 16, compared with just 25 minutes in 1975.

The research, by the Future Foundation think-tank, gives an upbeat assessment of modern childhood, with children’s views being taken into account in the household and parents aspiring to do a better job than their parents did.

As a result, children enjoy more “quality time” with their parents, who organise and take part in their sporting, cultural and social activities.

It contrasts with the bleak picture painted by other recent reports that have declared a “crisis in childhood” thanks to a “love deficit” between parents and children.

Last month the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said that he believed a generation of “infant adults” was growing up violent and dysfunctional because they were deprived of a caring childhood.

The Changing Face of Childhood, which combines survey evidence with sociological research, agrees that children enjoy far less independence than they did 30 years ago, as a result of anxious parents ferrying their children to school and after school activities. The average age at which children are allowed outside the home by themselves has gone up from seven to eight years old during the period, it found. But that is made up for by the “quality time” that children now enjoy with their parents.

Although the experience of childhood 30 years ago is often romanticised, the reality was different....

Come on everybody...Can I get a 'Hell'? Can I get a 'Handcart'?


Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE secular
Do You Belong In A Secular State?

October 05, 2006 5:50 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

modern parents spend four times as much time with them as the mothers and fathers of 30 years ago.

Much to the chagrin of the kids.

I don't know how much to make of this and I'll bet "time with them" is defined from the parents perspective and includes things like physical proximity while little Sean is on the X-box for five hours straight rather than outside playing sports with the other kids, but I think it is largely true. It is interesting to look back at the predictions of both modernists and traditionalists when changes like mothers working, relativist morality, etc. were first proposed or promoted. Modernists generally pooh-poohed any fear-mongering on the basis of how reasonable and disciplined everybody would be and then, in those cases where that didn't happen, used social science and distorted history to insist we are all better off anyway because the past was so much worse than anyone in the past realized at the time.

But traditionalists blew it too, and this is just one example. Another big one is the correlation between traditional religious and family values and prosperity. We just assumed that abandoning religion and traditional morality would result in everyone laying around in the grass strumming guitars and collecting welfare. (Isn't that what Charles Reich said they should do?) The possessed techie surrounded by empty pizza boxes and frying his brain by putting in hundred-hour weeks in front of the computer just wasn't on the radar screen. Nor were lots of other types driven by fanatic ambition. In fact, family commitments are now seen as an inefficient drag on third quarter profits by lots of beautiful people determined to conquer the world.

Same with this. We assumed the world of modern secular morality meant the little kids would be lonely and hungry while Mom and Dad went off and had a good time at the swingers' club. There is some of that (latchkey orphans), but who forsaw the neurotically possessive modern parents who work like slaves to spoil the kids materially and are so concerned about outside dangers and threats to their kids' fragile little psyches that they can't relax if they are out of sight and have a compulsive need to know each and everything they feel and think lest they or teachers or somebody warp them and sideline that straight line to the Nobel prize or Olympic medal they were destined at birth to win?

So it's different, Brit, but it's still Hell in a Handcart. I can see that clearly. I always can.

October 05, 2006 6:08 AM  
Blogger Brit said...

I suspected that might be your tack. They're not being neglectful, so they're all over-protective Soccer Moms who will stunt junior's development by giving him too much misguided fuss-ery.

All roads lead to Hell.

October 05, 2006 6:34 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Seriously, no I really don't think that. Many of these kids are blessed by the fussery, (although over-monitored) especially if it comes with high expectations. Others are subjected to living their parents' dysfuntions 24/7 and would benefit greatly from less attention. What I really think is illustrated is that notions of discipline and morality as modern or traditional, objective or relative, are passed down 95% by behaviour and only about 5% by the intellectual ramblings of old farts like us.

October 05, 2006 8:12 AM  
Blogger Brit said...

Here's my philosophy of the cultural commentary lark:

Pretty much everything is bad at the extremes. eg. very neglectful parents who let the kids play with the traffic willy-nilly are bad, and over-zealous parents who wrap them in so much cotton wool that they are unable to use a toaster without fear of death are bad.

Hell in a handcart and slippery slope arguments are great tools for bashing extremes of behaviour, but we shouldn't pretend that they are prescient predictions about how things will turn out in the future.

Predicting the future is utterly and completely beyound human intellectual ability. Which doesn't mean that we should stop, cos it's fun, but Hell in a Handcartists do need to be careful not to fall into the hysteria trap (it's a slippery slope, this slippery slope business).

October 05, 2006 8:22 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

We just assumed that abandoning religion and traditional morality would result in everyone laying around in the grass strumming guitars and collecting welfare.

Speaking as an American, when did the abandonment of religion occur?

October 05, 2006 9:49 AM  
Blogger M Ali said...

Bah. Nobody who has any mates - and a healthy supply of Transformers - would need or want any parents around interfering with their time outside of school and homework.

October 05, 2006 12:25 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Predicting the future is utterly and completely beyound human intellectual ability.

Yes, that's the great conundrum. Fools predict, wise men foresee.

October 06, 2006 1:48 AM  

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