A short while ago, my husband and I answered an ‘Ask the Rabbi’ question about whether deciding not to have children was acceptable. I was struck by the many reader comments we received that were variations of, “Better not to have children if you can’t be a good parent.”
At the same time, on the advice of someone I respect, I picked up a novel aimed at young teens which dealt with a boy overcoming an abusive home. You may remember that I recently wrote a book review recommending a historical fiction book for even slightly younger children that shared a similar premise.
While I saw how engaging this second book was, it troubled me. There is something wrong in presenting a dysfunctional view of family and society as the norm even if the underlying message is that tribulation can be overcome. When popular literature and entertainment repeatedly emphasize a theme, much more than just the intended message can get absorbed.