Friday, September 14, 2012

Dr. Slaughter’s Interview with Terry Gross

This summer, Dr. Slaughter appeared on the NPR program “Fresh Air” to discuss her article.  The program is available at the link below.

Several points caught my attention.

First, she notes that the parental balancing “extend[s] beyond the first months of parenting.”  She describes “deeper problems” that are “more cultural.”  I whole-heartedly agree.  People who are not parents often seem to think there are issues right after a baby is born, but after about 4-8 weeks everything is a go and parents are on cruise control.  Not so.  Raising a family takes time and it doesn’t happen in six months.  It takes years.

I also could related to the female reporter who wrote to Dr. Slaughter to express her work guilt for leaving at 6 p.m. to catch the end of her son’s baseball game, as well as guilt from other parents who thought she was not a good mom.  The female reporter struggled because of the perception she was not adequately “committed” to her job or her child.  It is a no-win situation.  There is plenty of judgment and very little support of parents.

I don’t understand such attitudes.  Being a parent is not some indulgent hobby.  Being a parent is a demanding and powerful endeavor because for better or worse parents are shaping the next generation.

People who take on the tough job of raising the next generation should be commended.  But as the two points from Dr. Slaughter’s interview suggest, parents instead get judgment.  Instead of support, they are barely tolerated.  The attitude seems to be that if one makes the decision to be a parent, that is some personal quirk that is distracting and annoying to the rest of society.  It inspires more contempt than support or commendation.

Such attitudes are nuts--even if one does not share Christ's values about the dignity and preciousness of all human beings.  The children of today are our society’s future.  If they grow up in a stable, secure environment, the odds are that they are the people who will be caring for us as we age and contributing to the economy.  But if their upbringing is traumatic or neglected, things are more likely to go awry and they may be a burden to the rest of society.  No family is an island.  Why not work to make the former a reality and the former less likely?

I appreciate that individualism is a core trait of our culture.  But taken to an extreme, it is counterproductive and warped.  In other countries, there is an understanding that parenting is not easy and families need support.  Why in our country is there this crazy situation that each family is on their own?  We’re all interdependent. 

Romans 12:5
In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other.

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