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Comments

Erin

Parents who work very hard at reaching and engaging their childrens' hearts--not merely focusing on external behaviors--have the most chance of raising children who will adopt their faith and values. Insofar as these "arch-conservative" parents with "broods of children" show concern for their childrens' hearts and minds more than appearance and behavior, I can't help but believe they will have a lasting impact on them; and the children upon society.

Of course, this thesis hinges on the untested assumption that these broods of children will grow up to adopt the strict conservatism of their parents.

This is an interesting way of putting it. In my experience, "strict conservatism" isn't something that is successfully passed down per se. If my parents had merely tried to indoctrinate me in a lifestyle and education of "religion" or conservatism, I don't think I would have accepted it. What they gave me was deep love and the investment of much of their time to build a relationship with me. God was presented in the same way: that I could have a relationship with Him. He wasn't in my mind merely a set of standards to be followed. Of course, standards were present in my family, but they weren't the primary concern.

As far as conservatism vs. liberal goes, I was pretty much encouraged to use my brain and decide my own political positions. It wasn't "Vote this way; believe this"...it was "what do you think is right, based upon your faith/reasoning/available information?" My parents really wanted me to be able to think for myself. I truly believe I had an AWESOME education and am so thankful for it!

mythago

The point of The Handmaid's Tale wasn't so much a caution against theocracy as it was a recognition of how women collaborate in, and make possible, their own oppression. Gilead had male leaders, but it was run by women.

Mickle

Inasmuch as teenagers tend to rebell against their parents - and the more authoritarian the parents, the more severe the rebellion, quite often - I've never been terribly worried about armies of teenage Harry Potter haters growing up to dominate politics.

But then, I may be biased, since I've had to watch my 17 year old cousin deal with an increasingly wacked-out father who gets on her case for wearing too much black (the girl wore one black T-shirt the entire weekend we spent together this summer, and no black bottoms, and that's fairly typical).

Needless to say, his conservative streak hasn't done much to make her very conservative.

Mermade

As the child of stauch conservative parents, I find this article rather interesting. While I am a feminist and believe in questioning conservative values in light of liberal arguments, I still consider myself a moderate conservative. But at the same time, I am not the same kind of Christian my parents are. My father calls liberalism "evil" and "the culture of death." He also hates the Los Angeles Times, and literally stomped on the Opinion section with a pro-choice article in it (and my friends wonder why I don't want them to come over to my house). His version of Christianity, I think, has nothing to do with Jesus. It's about his anger at the world. I hate to think that non-Christians look at a man with my father's ideology and think that's what Christianity is all about. Regardless of his fury, I do think that some of his conservative beliefs (though not all) make sense when questioned from an objective viewpoint.

Me? I'm not the biggest fan of Focus on the Family, and I question the "values" that the Republican party claims to support. And so, I wonder what people Christians mean when they say future generations will "abandon their faith." What does it mean to abandon faith? Some may believe I have abandoned some aspects of my faith in light of liberal and feminist ideology. But I still believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the concept of sin, humility, whatnot (and pretty much everything in C.S. Lewis' book, Mere Christianity). I am still a Christian, but not the kind my parents want me to be. Is that abandonment?

The Happy Feminist

The way you were raised sounds very sensible, Erin. My post wasn't meant so much as a critique of conservative childrearing (and certainly the terms "broods of children" wasn't intended in a derogatory way). It was intended as a critique of the notion that's been bandied about quite a bit in conservative circles that conservative children will automatically follow in their parents' footsteps.

Mermade, I think your point is important. It is also important to remember that staying with or leaving Christianity doesn't necessarily mean being more conservative or more liberal. There are plenty of Christians who are extremely liberal on politics and social issues.

Richard

>>> Happy wrote: ... it's important to note that "evangelical" doesn't necessarily correlate with "conservative."

And "liberal" does not necessarily correlate with "nonbeliever". As Mermade's comment above makes pretty clear, it can be a very complex analysis. My gut tells me, however, that regardless of what children of evangelical Christians will eventually call themselves, their ideology will not fall far from their parents' ideology in the end.

Erin

It was intended as a critique of the notion that's been bandied about quite a bit in conservative circles that conservative children will automatically follow in their parents' footsteps.

Right...that's what I was trying to speak to also:o) Conservatism doesn't necessarily breed the same. I think many parents make a mistake when they take an extremely authoritarian position, and will gain much more influence in their childrens' lives if they focus first and foremost on relationship...just loving those kids and spending time with them. So my point was that there's much more of a correlation between who spends the time and gives the love to the kids and where their loyalties lie, than what their parents' abstract social, political and religious positions are.

Erin

BTW...the whole time/relationship = influence thing has many ramifications. This is the reason why I strongly believe that where and with whom a child spends most of his time is a BIG DEAL!

The Happy Feminist

My parents always took the position that their job was to give me the tools to make wise choices about how to live and what to believe. They said that they always felt that as long as I had those tools and used them, they would be pleased even if I made choices contrary to their value system. I find that a little hard to believe, but they swear it's true.

As it happened, I didn't fall terribly far from the tree in terms of secular humanism, although I have rejected certain beliefs my parents have, like hitting children and animals. Oddly, my parents and I all vote quite differently. My mother tends to vote Republican, my father Libertarian, and I Democratic. But I am hearkening back to their Democratic roots from which they seem to have strayed, and it was in fact my mother who sealed the deal in terms of persuading me to understand how crucial it is to support the legality and acessibility of abortion. (Yep, she even uses the parasite language and she should know because she was pregnant with me for, as she put it, "nine loooooooong months." And while she is grateful for the results, she doesn't think I morphed from a mere parasite to me in all my glory until the end of the pregnancy.)

Erin

I have a sister who has made/makes many decisions that are contrary to my parents' values. But there's never any doubt that she is loved, and my parents continue to try to maintain and build a relationship with her. I have a feeling that THAT will go so much farther with her than a more legalistic approach! In fact, it's already bearing fruit in the fact that she hasn't distanced herself from them. She feels free to live her life out and be honest with them about her choices. Though it's painful for them, they are thankful that they can have a relationship with her despite their differences. She knows where they stand and vice versa. When all's said and done, my sister's path is essentially her own. But whatever she does, she will always have her loving upbringing and her family's continued love and time. What could be a greater influence than that?

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