Progressive Parenting

A very good article on the ultra-liberal parenting practices:

The shadow side of freedom-focused child-rearing is micromanagement. In this, unschoolers share an affinity with another contemporary parenting approach more commonly associated with micromanagement: ‘helicopter parents’. Unschoolers and helicopter parents are both, are in different ways, inheritors of Luther’s tradition: the former fixated on freedom, the latter on salvation through applying the Protestant work ethic, and both pursuing their aims through a pervasive presence in their kids’ lives. In both cases, too, we see an abdication of authority, in favour either of radical libertarianism or a kind of cuddly, enmeshed totalitarianism.

What nobody mentions about all these child-led attachment unschooler parenting methods is that they expect mommy to be a robot with absolutely no life or even physiology of her own. I’m seeing horror stories about 3-year-olds hanging on mom’s breast all day and even all night long. Mommy gets zero space of her own. Even if it were extremely good for kids (and judging by the results it’s really not), isn’t it important to teach the lesson that mommy is human, too?

We establish the nature of our relationship with the world on the basis of our relationship with mom. (And the relationship with society on the basis of our relationship with dad). The all-consuming, omnipresent, robotic mommy generates enormous anxiety. And the absence of dad as a figure of any importance in such progressive families leads to the child feeling contempt and rage towards social norms and father-figure stand-ins (hence the rage against Founding Fathers, statues, monuments, and the police).

Psychological health is all about getting up in the morning, doing the routine, mundane tasks of daily life, and loving it. And this type of parenting cannot possibly lead to that result.

9 thoughts on “Progressive Parenting”

  1. You might like Fatal Discord by Michael Massing. It deals with the debate between Luther and Erasmus. (Warning, the book is long.) They fell out with each other largely because Erasmus still insisted on believing in free will. I have a horror fascination with Luther. His theology swings back and forth between freedom and tyranny. Whenever you scratch deeper, you get the other.

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    1. The Erasmus/Luther dialogue over Luther’s On the Bondage of the Will is a must read if you want to understand the Reformation/Counter Reformation. Luther himself said at the end of his life that Bondage of the Will was his only work of his he still stood by completely.

      And it’s completely wacko. Erasmus makes the obvious grown-up point: if there’s nothing we can do about it, why do you keep bringing it up? Luther loses it, just yells louder. It’s wild – Luther is just not all there.

      I’ve spent much of the last 25 yrs reading up on the origins of what is wrong with modern education. In its current form, it traces back to Fichte’s 1807/8 Addresses to the German Nation; but more fundamental is the effect Luther had, wanting the state to seize the monasteries, shut them down, and convert them into compulsory schools in which to raise up good little Lutherans.

      Mix in Rousseau’s Emile with that legendary German thoroughness, and you have Fichte saying the state should simply seize all children to get them away from the ill effects of parents, family, church, and village, and school them in patriotic obedience to the state – for their own good, of course. Thus, you end up with that totalitarian ‘freedom’ being discussed.

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      1. There is this paradox with Luther in which you are saved because of your depravity. You have this wild swing between this belief in the liberty of the believer and his Augustinian contempt for actual human beings. In his autobiographical works, he talks about an incident when he was a monk in which Satan was attempting to challenge his faith by questioning whether he was truly saved. Luther, the good Catholic monk, responded that of course he was saved; he was a monk who lived by his vows and was supported by the power of the Eucharist and saints. But what if those things did not really save? The very fact that Luther could harbor doubts about whether the Church could save meant that he did not truly believe and was, therefore, not saved. Luther responded: yes Satan, you are right; I am a totally depraved sinner and by all rights should be damned but, because I know I am so depraved, I know that only Jesus can save me. This led Luther to throw out Catholic ritual and even the very notion of a Church as an instrument of salvation.

        At the heart of Luther’s theology was a rejection of free will. The only choice humans could ever make was to have faith. For Luther that meant the recognition that you do not have the ability to affect your own salvation. The moment you even believe that works could open you up to grace and allow you to have faith, you bring back the entire Church structure with its sacraments.

        Luther would have made an excellent SJW. You think that you are not racist simply because you do not hate black people without having anything to do with the woke movement. As a white person, you cannot help but be a totally depraved racist. The proof of your depravity is that you deny that you are depraved. The only way you can be saved is by participating in the right movements and shouting the proper slogans. Granted, none of these things are actually going to help society or even make you less racist. You will always be a racist but if you acknowledge this fact that you are beyond redemption, you can be forgiven.

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  2. I feel so conflicted when I read these articles: I can see what they’re talking about! These kids have their moms all up in their business ALL THE TIME. And it’s unhealthy.

    But there are so many proxy signals for this kind of parent that also apply to me, so I spend the whole article going “But! Wait! HEY!! I’m not that parent! If you keep writing like this, everyone will think I’m that parent! Stop!

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  3. “child-led attachment unschooler parenting methods”

    Before your blog I’d never realized that some parents can’t perceive their children as separate people… I knew some paid unhealthy amounts of attention to children but the idea of not recognizing them as separate beings was so alien to me that I’d never have realized how common it is and how much dysfunction comes from it….

    I’m not sure if…. thanking you for that knowledge is something I can do… I’d almost rather to never have learned….

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  4. For 25 years, until the SJW took over and forced us out, we helped run a Sudbury school – that’s a school where, on the one hand, no child is made to study anything they don’t want to – there are no mandatory classes – yet, on the other, they are held responsible for all their actions by the other students and staff. In practice, the message to kids is: do whatever you want, but YOU are responsible for the results. Waste all your time? Guess what? Nobody is bailing you out. Make a mess? You clean it up, or face a meeting of the school that can impose punishment up to and including expulsion. You end up with kids who can argue like lawyers, and who get the idea of personal responsibility on a level I haven’t seen elsewhere. Some call this ‘unschooling’ – seems this term is very broad, if that’s what it is.

    With that experience, I offer two observations: school simply is not a substitute for parenting. The kids with decent parents, especially from the increasingly rare intact marriages, do very well. Our kids all learned to read just fine, went to college, 4 out of 5 studied Great Books/Classics, traveled on their own, got jobs, oldest dtr just married a fine young man – And they all get along with each other and us. So it can work. If the family is screwed up or broken, the results are mixed. Of course, the kid with the not-nearly-rare-enough sociopath/borderline personality/narcissist parent – invariably the mom in my experience, for some reason – is a train wreck no matter what the school or any body else does.

    Second, school as commonly done – graded classrooms, periods, subjects, bells, etc. – is a complete waste of the child’s time. Kids can learn everything they teach that’s worth learning in a few months. To drag it on for 12 or more years is simply insane.

    Finally, more directly relevant: we are near enough to Berkeley, possibly the most liberal place in America, that we got a steady stream of parents coming by from there to check out the school. They all talked big about how important it was that their little Fiona had freedom – then balked like crazy when we talked about giving it to them. No, no – they meant the kind of freedom a child has with mom and dad, or a teacher standing in for them, managing their every moment! Not too many even tried it, after they found out we actually intended to let their kid do whatever he wanted to do.

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    1. I read a book once, that followed up with several Sudbury Valley School grads, and talked about the school generally. It was one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever read on education, and still acts as one of the guiding lights to our homeschooling efforts, along with John Holt, Charlotte Mason…

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    2. I’m not familiar with the story of the school but it sounds fascinating. I agree that it’s all about parenting. It’s quite shocking to me that so many people expect schools to correct deficiencies of parenting.

      On the other hand, it’s also surprising that many people think schools have the power to override good parenting. They can’t. Neither good not bad parenting can be overcome by a school.

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