Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mart T. Mitchell, Home-Making for Home-Coming
This seems to be the prevailing attitude of many modern American parents. And it is not just the parents. Children tend to think of themselves as connected to their parents only until they reach the ripe old age of eighteen. Then they leave. Or, as is often the case, some form of dependency, usually economic, remains until the child graduates from college. But once that occurs, there is little expectation that the lives of parents and their children will remain intimately connected on a day-to-day basis. Indeed, often there is an expectation that the child will cut whatever ties he might have with his family or with the place of his youth and seek eagerly to go wherever his education, his job, his girlfriend, or his fancy dictates. The impulse to distance himself from his parents facilitates their newfound (and long anticipated) freedom. Besides, if it is clear to the child that the parents are looking forward to freedom from their children, it should not be surprising that the child will feel little desire to remain in their proximity. No one wants to be a burden.
This is so common in America, that my mother often says that it is what "white parents do." How does one teach one's children that they have obligations to the family? (And therefore they should not live too far from home, unless some higher good is involved, e.g. God and one's personal vocation?) Primarily by their own example, but this is probably not enough.

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