Saturday, July 20, 2013

Extraordinary Discourse 130

Mothers and Fathers

Mom! Dad! Can you hear me?

Mother and Father stories

At its very best the family can be what many people say it is: an island of acceptance and love in the midst of a harsh world. But too often within the family, people take out on each other all the pain and frustrations of their lives that they don’t dare take out on anyone else. Instead of a ready-made source of friends, it is too often a ready-made source of victims and enemies--the place where not the kindest, but the cruellest words are spoken. This may disappoint us, but it should not surprise or horrify us. The family was not invented, or has it evolved, to make children happy, or to provide a secure emotional and psychological background to grow up in. Mankind evolved the family to meet a very basic need, in small and precarious societies: to make sure that as many children as possible were born--and once born, physically taken care of until they could take care of themselves. “Be fruitful and multiply,” commanded the Bible. A society or community that did not was sure to be wiped out, by drought, famine, plague, or war. The rulers of these societies solved their problem in a way that is the foundation of our moral codes today--though the codes now do not meet, but oppose our most urgent survival needs.

What they did was to harness the sexual drives of young men to the begetting and nurturing of young children. The rules boiled down to this:You can’t have sex except to make a baby. You have to take care of the woman who will be the baby’s mother--and when the baby is born, you have to take care of it as well. This was a burden--heavy then as now, which most young men would have avoided if they could. But loopholes were tightly closed: the rules strictly forbade getting sexual release or pleasure any other way. And society sweetened the deal a little bit: in return for the trouble of taking care of this woman and her child or children, society gave them to the man as his property. ... basically the family is and was a tiny kingdom, an absolute monarchy... instrument of dominance and slavery--a miniature dictatorship sometimes justified by “love”--in which the child learns to live under, and submit to, absolute and unquestionable power--it is a training for slavery.

... parents have been told ever more insistently that they have a duty to love their children, and the children that they have a duty to love their parents. We lock the old and young into this extraordinarily tense and troubled relationship, and the tell them that they have to like it--even love it, and if they don’t they are bad, or wrong, or sick. There is no legitimate way for parents staggering under this burden to admit without shame or guilt that they don’t much like these young people who live in their house, worry them half to death, and soak up most of their money--or that they wish that they had never decided to have them in the first place, or that they could have had something different. Children on their part are expected to be grateful for what they did not ask for, and often do not want.
John Holt
Escape From Childhood

Upon birth, as Mayhew described the practice in Germany at the end of the 19th century, “the wretched new-born little thing has been wound up in… ells of bandages, from the feet right, and tight, up to the neck; as if it were intended to be embalmed as a mummy.” Since these bandages were rarely changed, the infant was left in its own feces and urine, with the result, says Mayhew, that “babies are loathsome, foetid things…offensive to the last degree with their excreta [and] the heads of the poor things are never washed, and are like the rind of Stilton cheese, with dirt encrusted upon their skull.” The mothers were so frightened of their babies that they not only tied them up but often strapped them into a crib in a room with curtains drawn to keep out “lurking evils.” The results were that the infants were covered with lice and other vermin attracted to their feces, but they could not move to drive them away as infants who were not swaddled might do. The parents routinely called them “lice,” and “useless eaters” because they didn’t contribute to the family’s work until they were older, resenting their children so much that they often recalled “Rarely could we eat a piece of bread without hearing father’s comment that we did not merit it” because they did not earn their living.
The Childhood Origins of the Holocaust
Lloyd deMause

The majority of adults in this country hate their work. Whether it is a factory hob, a white collar job, or with some exceptions a professional job, or the role of being a housewife. They hate their work-- as much as young people rebel against the prospect of similar work. Indeed it is the parents’ feelings that are a principle source of the children’s feelings. The middle class also resents the authority that is imposed by work-- the boss and the system-- and they feel that they lack power over their own lives.

The new consciousness seeks new ways to live, in the light of what technology has made both possible and desirable. Since machines can produce enough food and shelter for all, why should man not end the antagonism derived from scarcity and base his society on love for his fellow man? If machines can take care of our material wants, why should people not develop the esthetic and spiritual sides of their natures?
Charles A. Reich,
The Greening Of America


At the same time I was seeing more and more evidence that most adults actively distrust and dislike most children, even their own, and quite often especially their own. They also feel that the most important thing children have to learn is how to work, that is, when their time comes, to be able, and willing, to hold down full-time painful jobs of their own. The best way to get them ready to do this is to make school as much like a full-time painful job as possible. As long as such parents are in the majority, and in every social class they are, the schools, even if they wanted to, and however much they might want to, will not be able to move very far in the directions I and many others have for years been urging them to go.
John Holt
Growing Without Schooling

The study revealed that children of Gen-X parents receive more attention than children did in 1977, with Gen-X fathers spending over an hour more per day with their children than Boomer fathers. The study also finds that both women and men have become more conscious of the personal tradeoffs they have to make to advance in their careers and that an increasing number are instead choosing to stay at the same levels, rather than continue moving up the career ladder.

When you neglect your own welfare in seeking the welfare of the children, you leave the children a bad inheritance; a very bad impression of the past. If you torture yourself in order to produce something for the children, you give them the picture of a tortured life. Therefore, away with all that! It is all wrong, says the child, and it commits the other mistake: if you are always preparing for the happiness of the children, you don’t know how to look after your own happiness, nor do your children learn how to look after theirs. They in turn may go on to prepare for the happiness of your grandchildren, and the grandchildren for your great grandchildren. And so happiness is always somewhere in the future.

You think happiness is something to be attained in the future--that you cannot attain it but your children will have it. So you fill your life with ambitions for that kingdom to come--and it never comes. Every generation is doing something towards it. They all torture themselves in order that the children shall attain it. But the children grow up, and are the same fools as we are. They receive the same evil teaching.

Try to make it, here and now, for yourself. That is good teaching. Then the children will try to make it here and now for themselves. Then it can come into the real world. Don’t be unnatural and seek happiness in the next generations. If you are too concerned about your children and grandchildren you simply burden them with the debts you have contracted. While if you contract no debts--if you live simply and make yourselves as happy as possible, you leave the best of conditions for your children. At all events you leave a good example of how to take care of themselves. If the parents can take care of themselves the children will also. They will not be looking for the happiness of the grandchildren, but will do what is necessary to have a reasonable amount of happiness themselves. And so when a whole nation is torturing itself for the sake of the children, an inheritance of misery is all that they leave for the future--a sort of unfulfilled promise.

So instead of saying “I do it for the children--it may come off in the future,” try to do it for yourself, here and now. Then you will see whether it is possible or not. If you postpone it for the children, you leave something which you have not dared to fulfill. Or perhaps you were too stupid to fulfill it. Or if you had tried to fulfill it you might have seen that it was impossible, or all nonsense anyhow. While if you leave it to the future, you leave less than nothing to the children. Only a bad example.
C.G. Jung
Zarathustra Seminars (1934-1939)