Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Death of the Grown-up

The Death of the Grown-up. West, Diana.

This is definitely a thought provoking book and not one that can be read at a break neck pace. I took a great deal of notes on this book (yes, I take notes when I read but that is fuel for another post). Some of what Ms. West said is new to me or at least new to my thinking about this issue. The fact that what the "children of the 60's" would claim as their revolution actually started not in the 1960's but in the 1950's with the advent of magazines targeted towards teenage girls, with movies like "Rebel Without a Cause" which portrayed sincere youth stymied by hypocritical adults (read that parents) and by the beginning of a revolution in music. That the sixties revolution was more a rebellion of children against parents than citizens against a government and that it can be viewed as a youth movement that was all-style and no-substance (sorry Jane Fonda).

Some of what she relates has long been obvious to me at least. That children have come to feel that they are person's of considerable importance and that they are entitled to whatever they can get for themselves. Ms. West relates this to the fact that infant mortality rates have plummeted and that children are no longer seen as part of the economic subsistence of a family (I REALLY condensed what she said there). Also, the fact that the family is now a social safety net rather than an educational/vocational training ground. That we have in fact trained up parents who need parents themselves. Who set no boundaries for their children, who practice a "see no evil-hear no evil-speak no evil" parenting or worse, who in the name of "providing a safe environment" actually enable bad behavior. That it is amazing to think that "the extent to which following once reflexive middle-class manners and mores has become, weirdly enough, an act of rugged individualism."

I could go on but I think what I would like to say is that this is a book that really should be (and won't be I am sure) read by every parent with small children, or grown children for that matter. It was sobering.


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