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Dialectic Materialism, as defined by the Free Dictionary:

"The Marxian interpretation of reality that views matter as the sole subject of change and all change as the product of a constant conflict between opposites arising from the internal contradictions inherent in all events, ideas, and movements."
Mankind is a vast historical entity, and our individual families are its various cells. These little cells can be viewed as microcosms of humanity as a whole. Within our family cells, we have parents (the established order) and children (the under class).

Capitalism must by its very nature have an exploiting and an exploited class. Our families--since our families are parts of our communities, and our communities patch together larger communities and ultimately our society as a whole--tend to echo the prevailing social order in their structure, and thus parents can be counted on to exploit their children, and children can be counted on to resent--and ultimately rebel--against their parents.

Is this bad? I don't know. A revolutionary family might be proud of the rebellion of their children, although wouldn't rebellion against a revolutionary family ultimately be rebellion in favor of the larger social system? Therefore wouldn't a revolutionary parent be forced to behave as the exploiting class in the prevailing system does and in some way oppress or stifle their rebellious little hellions?

I don't think it needs to come to this, but then again, I'm no expert on parenting. My oldest child is still two years away from being a teenager, and I know the kind of discord puberty can bring to a family.

On one hand, I want my children to rebel. Even against me. I think the family is, in a sense, the training ground for the larger society. If I treat my children in an egalitarian fashion, they will expect egalitarian treatment from the real world. If I slip--as I am sure to do--into a hypocritical and authoritarian mode, I want my children to challenge me. I want them to know what it is like to challenge authority, and I want them to know what it is like to win. I want them to know I am fallible. Surely they will find this out, so it might as well be from my own mouth.

On the other hand, I am also very invested in having a strong interpersonal relationship with my children as they get older. Especially when they are in their late twenties and early thirties, I want them to feel they can come to me and talk to me, receiving my full sympathy, attention, and respect. What will our inevitable teenage conflicts do to this later bond? I don't know.

I know there has to be conflict, and I know I am inevitably cast in the role of 'the man' in my children's lives, for good or ill. Being a father is teaching me a lot about leadership, and about relationships with unequal power. It teaches me a lot about the function of state, and the relationship between the proletariat and the capitalist. The relationship between the 1% and the rest of the population in this country is irreversibly rotten. The goal for me as a parent is to avoid this rottenness in my tiny little cell of the system. To allow for a healthy give and take between myself and my offspring, and to know when it's time to step down from my role as an authority figure and to take a supporting role.

Maybe the time to step down is immediately.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA, Remembering Jello

    "Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." ~ Samuel Johnson

    by Spencer Troxell on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 10:54:40 AM PDT

  •  Speaking dialectically... (2+ / 0-)

    ...but also from observed experience, the best way to make your children rebels is to give them a harsh, authoritarian upbringing...but then you don't have much of a shot at that good-relationship-when-they're-older thing.  Personally my standard for that good relationship (and my kid is the same age as your oldest, more or less) is a little more modest than yours; I don't expect or much want her to ask me for advice when she's 30, and I'd worry about a situation in which an adult child would even want or need parental advice!

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 11:09:43 AM PDT

    •  Eh, mine's 32 tomorrow- (2+ / 0-)

      I still get a call if an appliance is acting up, if workplace politics start getting baroque, that kinda thing... Don't forget that when your child is 30, you'll be fifty plus- w/ all the experience that brings. I'm glad that she still asks for advice sometimes- though she may do it because she's sweet, and she knows I like to feel useful.

      When she was a teen, every now and again she'd tell me I was the biggest asshole she'd ever met. I'd always reply that I hoped that was always true. It was only a couple of years ago that she brought that up, and told me she finally understood what I meant.

      See how it goes.

  •  You might read (0+ / 0-)

    about radical unschooling. Which is not as much about schooling -- un or not -- as it is about relationships and mutual respect.

    You are not the state or the boss or anything else but the Dad. You don't have to make life difficult or create dramas or irrational rules to rub up against. These things happen in life without any invention on our part. IMO, what a kid needs more than some role-player is a real person who is there when he is needed, who backs off when he isn't, who is kind whenever possible and who shows love and respect every day.

    My two are 18 and 20. They haven't rebelled -- maybe because I didn't set up arbitrary things for them to rebel against. They have their own ideas and sometimes we disagree but it's not about rebellion. It's about discussing something with someone you love and respect.

    Who knows? Maybe they will rebel or hate me or something later on. But, so far, so good. :)

    •  I hope it didn't come across (0+ / 0-)

      that I am creating arbitrary things to rebel against. Rather, I feel it is inevitable that any authority figure is going to be hypocritical and authoritarian at times, and I hope my kids will call me out when I am. I'm all for the being there business.

      "Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." ~ Samuel Johnson

      by Spencer Troxell on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 12:59:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ah, I did read (0+ / 0-)

        it as you feeling like you needed to play that part to somehow prepare the kids for the real world. And that's such a burden -- on everyone.

        The "being there business" is much more fun and better for the whole family.

        Happy 4th! :)

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