A different mission

The Mission aims to pass on to the next generation the rich vision of human possibility inherent in the American project, and to enlist them into passing down that vision to yet another generation, in what sociologists used to call “the reproduction of society.” What goes around, comes around.

You don’t have to have a Ph.D. to know that many poor parents have not signed up for the Mission.

From What’s Holding Black Kids Back? by Kay S. Hymovitz, a nice piece that looks at the differences between middle and lower class families with regards to child rearing.

But it should be clear by now that being a middle-class—or an upwardly mobile immigrant—mother or father does not mean simply performing a checklist of proper behaviors. It does not mean merely following procedures. It means believing on some intuitive level in the Mission and its larger framework of personal growth and fulfillment. In the case of poor parents, that means having an imagination of a better life, if not for you, then for your kids. That’s what makes the difference.

I like the piece, but I take issues with a few of her assertions. I don't agree with the assertion that smaller family size is evidence of an increasing focus on The Mission. For some families yes, but for others, it's evidence of wanting to "be done" early and reture at 50.

Additionally, subscribing to The Mission doesn't necessarily make one a good parent. I'd rather raise good, happy children than four-sport all-stars who play 12 instruments and have wretched attitudes. Any family that is "training [children] to prosper in an individualistic, commercial, self-governing republic" at the expense of teaching a child how to live in relationship with God, nature and fellow man is not an enviroment for raising healthy children, it's a Young Capitalist factory.

Even though the article isn't concerned with that distinction, much of its critique of lower-class parenting can also be applied to the moral dimension. It's interesting at this time of assault on traditional views of the family to have a piece like this which makes the case for an intact family.

According to Berger, when working properly, the bourgeois, nuclear family is by its very definition a factory for producing competent, self-reliant, and (at its most successful) upwardly mobile children. Close the factory, as in the disappearance of the inner-city two-parent family, and you risk shutting down the product line.

Cringe though you rightfully may at the capitalistic wording of that last sentence, the truth of the notion remains.

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This page contains a single entry by Papa-Lu published on July 30, 2005 8:17 AM.

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