The Choice of a New Generation

February 12, 2006

One of the nice things about a new blog is when people start to discover that it exists – the ‘comments’ link at the end of each posting stops registering zero each time and after a while you notice that some of the blogs you like are starting to link back to your blog. I noticed that the Anthropik Network has a link to this site in their ‘collapse’ section and the blurb they have written about Village Blog is; ‘Building community and healing seventh generation hurts’ (at least I think it is – the page is not currently available for me to check).I don’t usually use phrses like ‘seventh generation hurts’ (although as Jason points out in the comments below, I actually did) but upon reflection I realised it was a very apt summary. Indigenous cultures often talk about thinking seven generations ahead and the bible also talks about curses lasting seven generations. I think this is a reflection of the reality of how long it takes trauma to disappear from a family line – how long it takes for the effect of abuse to wear off. I certainly can see the effect of what happened to men who went to WWII. Having no emotional help when they came back many turned to the bottle and/or became unnecessarily hard – especially on their children. Their children grew up dysfunctional and passed this on to the our generation and now we are trying not to pass it on to our kids. In some ways we are succeeding and in some ways we are failing. Generally speaking each generation is a bit more sorted than the previous one – despite what people actually say about the generation they spawned.

The question then is, will it take seven generations for civilisation to wear off? If we become hunter/gatherers might it take seven generations to be totally healed of the effects of civilisation? This would of course pre-suppose that there are no artefacts of civilisation (read: artefacts of power concentration) remaining. This being unlikely for many the question then is how much can we actually repair?

When we decided to have children we were fortunate enough to be introduced to the concept of ‘attachment parenting’, it’s kind of the opposite of ‘alienation parenting’ which is the conventional approach in western civilisation. We have also read The Continuum Concept and were pretty pleased with our decision, we thought our kids were going to be different from other kids and not be cursed with the problems we have.

Now that our oldest is 3 ½ we know better than to believe in that kind of miracle. The Continuum Concept is an inspiring book in that it shows what the possibilities are for childhood but at the same time as that it also provides a comparison to what we are doing and I’m pretty sure that someone from the Yequana tribe would look at my kids and see no real difference between that generation and mine. I don’t think this is an indictment of us so much as an indication of the enormity of the challenge we face.

One of the problems is that we are still stuck in a nuclear family situation which puts an unnecessary stress on (already dysfunctional) parents. Also once you’re in nuclear conflict there isn’t a hell of a lot you can do about it. For the first few years it’s just a matter of survival and then maybe you will get the breathing space to start creating a village or tribe a bit later on (I hope!). It’s a crying shame that the most stressful parenting years are also the most important years in a child’s development and it’s a serious indictment of our culture. Unfortunately most people think it’s just normal and just keep plodding on.

We’re also still surrounded by the distractions of civilisation. Too many times have I sat here typing about what we should do with our kids when I should really be out doing it with them. I ditched the career so I could be a better parent but I just found new distractions – it’s always ‘three steps forward, two steps backward’ all the time.

Parenting turns out to be a very humbling experience,it’s no wonder that parents would rather blame the ‘poorly disciplined school’ or the ‘wrong crowd’ that their kids fell in with than admit to the part they had to play in their child’s imperfection. As always we come back to the fact that if we want to ‘de-civilise’ our world, we need to de-civilised ourselves and that means confronting all those inner demons, unfortunately a lot of them don’t become apparent until we already have the children.

I also think that attachment parenting is more stressful (in the short term) than the conventional approach. I received advice from one father recently that if the kids won’t go to sleep you just lock them in their rooms, that way you can guarantee the parents will get time to themselves. No thanks mate.

Anyway, it’s become apparent that all we can do is lay the foundations so that the next generation can actually begin to repair the damage. At least our kids will have co-slept with their parents in their early years rather than being left to cry themselves to sleep, and at least we understand that a crying child isn’t always trying to manipulate us. I’d like to say my kids didn’t receive in any coercive parenting either but I’d be lying if I made that claim. Sadly, coercion is a harder habit to break than I realised. It’s so ingrained in our society that there is simply no other model to follow and no role models to talk to. I guess we’re going to become the role models for the next generation, this doesn’t inspire me with a hell of a lot of confidence for the future but at least we can say we started.

No wait, I was going to make that the ending but it’s too negative and also not entirely accurate. The mere fact that people are aware that the coercive nature of our society is reproduced in our childrearing ‘techniques’ is incredibly important. I shouldn’t say at least we’ve started but thank goodness we’ve started. The first generation starts now and that means that there is now a chance that there will be a seventh generation.

02:30 Posted in Big Ideas | Permalink | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0) | Email this


One comment

  1. Sorry, but on your about page, you write, “This blog is really going to be about building community and healing people who are seventh generation members of our culture (everybody really).” I try to use information from sites’ about pages in order to avoid accusations of skewed or inaccurate blurbs. But, I also look for ones that I agree capture my opinion of the site. You’ve got a good thing going here. It’s made my regular reading list. :^)

    Posted by: Jason Godesky | 02/12/2006

    oh dear, I knew I should have checked the about section first. I thinkI’ll have to change the wording just a bit…

    Posted by: Aaron | 02/12/2006

    Thanks for re-introducing me to Alice Miller. I’m 18, and still fresh off recovering from my own abuses I received as a child. It’s very inspiring to hear that other people are attempting to break the cycle as well. I’m really enthused that you tried attachment parenting — it won’t break the cycle all on its own but it is certainly a start. And as you say, thank goodness we’ve started.

    – Devin

    Posted by: Devin | 02/22/2006

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