My new friend, Evernote, allows me to electronically clip and save articles. Like the small, dishwasher stick-on that I wrote about in my Duh! Moments Musing (Oct. 12, 2011), Evernote has simplified my life enormously. I am now dealing with entering a backlog of articles that currently exist on yellowing paper in my desk drawer or that are referred to in an email via a digital link.
Obviously, the articles I track tend to be on topics that interest me. Marriage and children rank high. Reviewing so many of them over the course of a few days has impressed on me not only how many articles are written but also how much they contradict each other.
We are not in control of our lives in a million and one ways. We are born into a certain genetic reality, a distinct family, a particular nation and a specific time. We live in a world with drunk drivers, suicide bombers and debilitating illnesses. We can – and should – make the best of the hand we are dealt, but expecting a storybook fantasy life is foolish.
The above sentiments notwithstanding, most of us in the civilized world have a great deal of control over important life decisions. Of these decisions, fewer have greater impact that how we plan for and act in regards to marriage and family. Which is why the plethora of articles I am perusing that argue for and against marriage, for and against having children, for and against mothers working outside the home, for and against fathers being the chief homemaker, etc., etc., etc., is striking.
You can find studies and anecdotal evidence to support whatever path you want to take. If five years down the road, the study proves to be flawed or the interviewed protagonist regrets his or her actions, the journalist is busy writing a new story while the reader who acted on the information does not get a new life.
Currently, parents who ‘follow the crowd’ are getting the message that responsible parenting means making sure that their teenage children understand and use safe-sex methods and birth control. For most people, the concept that sex belongs exclusively in marriage isn’t even on the horizon.
Our culture doesn’t even present a physical relationship as a uniquely adult activity. At best, parents trained by today’s intelligentsia might quibble over whether sexual activity should start at age fifteen, seventeen or nineteen.The ‘powers that be’, meanwhile, are on the wrong side, combatting natural reticence and modesty from the time kids are in kindergarten and continuing through co-ed bathrooms in college.
In Jewish tradition, the patriarch Abraham is referred to in Hebrew with the appellation, Ha’ivri (Ha-eev-ree). This translates as “the crosser-over;” a man who stepped away from the norms of his generation and was willing to stand on the other side of the generational current.
Parents and grandparents today need to start strategizing what values they want to bequeath their offspring almost from birth. Leaving it to others is a dangerous option.
Seeing the terrible advice out there has reinforced my pride in providing a powerful weapon for those teenagers who want to step away from the sexually accelerated culture in which they are immersed. Gila Manolson’s book,