25 November 2016

Parenting, Values and Culture


I don't really know much about the author but his columns often appear in the local newspaper. Sometimes the advice is good and I admit this despite my general hostility to the theological and philosophical underpinnings of psychology and much of the counseling movement.

This piece was of particular interest and I wanted to share it. However despite its acumen there are some points and issues to which I take exception... or at the very least I would urge readers to consider.

The link opens up several columns. The one I'm referring to is the last on the page entitled: Postmodern Psychological Parenting Is Causing More Harm Than Good

He makes a lot of good points but the shift he references didn't occur in the late 1960s. That may have been when the doctrines were formalised. However the actual shift took place with the Greatest Generation in the 1950s. They were the parents of the Baby Boomer generation and embraced a new set of values which indeed trickled down to their children, though in many cases they took an unintended direction.

Consumerism, individualism, self-expression, desire as well as 'progress' fostered an attitude that turned its back on the past. By progress we don't necessarily have to mean Social Progressivism in the sense of improving conditions for the poor etc., but instead an optimism and eager embrace of technology as a means to improve domestic life and defend the nation. A new way of life and standard of living were celebrated.

The new way of living, middle class life, suburbia, the automobile, television, a new pop culture all changed lifestyles and ethics.  Even a reaction to the perceived harshness and forced conformity of the enemy led to a break with convention. New ideas about child rearing were entertained and accepted. The next generation would simply take many of these ideas and work out (and apply) their implications.

People seem to forget Playboy, Elvis and even the pill were all products of the 1950s. The trend was already there.

Everything Rosemund says is right but the cultural roots are a lot deeper than many conservatives are willing to admit. The conservatism of the 1950s is something of a myth or at the very least misunderstood. It was a construct that in many ways broke with convention, it was a snapshot of a moment in time as well as a vision. Today the 1950s have been turned into a type of romanticism. They're conservative when compared with today but at the time though the 1950s seemed conservative even to those who lived through it... the period did in fact represent a shift in ethics.

If we're going to go back in time then let's go back to even earlier eras. If you return to the 1900s and even the 1910s, the social consensus of Christians and the 'everyman' would (if looking forward) decry the 1950s and 60s as decadent.

I identify the two imperial 'triumphant' decades of the 1950s and 1990s as the foundations for our cultural decadence... They resulted in the 1960s and 2000s.

I'm not going to elaborate it here but a case could be made that the 1970s and 2010s are times of severe nihilistic decadence, even despair. There are discernible patterns. The mistake is to draw too many exact parallels and analogies.

Will US culture rebound? Will we have another 1980s? Of course the 1980's as a repeat of the 1950's also sowed the seeds of its own destruction.

But what if we don't have a social 'rebound'? I use the term broadly setting aside its real meaning and ethical implications.

If we don't, then frankly we're likely to enter a phase of collapse.... or a new paradigm.


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