Archive for February, 2012

Every four years, at the time of the presidential elections, I get more annoyed by the irrelevance of the debate on family values.  This week, the Arizona episode of the republican debate sank to a record low on this issue. We heard the chorus of the four  knights of the traditional heterosexual family whining about its disappearance: Apprentice Patriarch Santorum quoted the New York Times on 40% of children born out of wedlock,  Mr. Virtue -Romney- added that 40% of these children born in sin were from certain groups (guess whose) and lamented the lack of abstinence teaching in school, Marriage Boulimic Gingrich kicked at Obama rewarding infanticide doctors. The pearl was Paul’s synthesis of this fruitful exchange: “don’t blame the pill, blame immorality.” Yes folks, the poor are immoral (and by the way, they don’t have the money to buy the pill), and the rich virtuous. And eventually the poor can be rich, with less government, more free markets and a return to the gold standard. I guess there is an antique quality to it that may make it sound novel.

Let’s leave eighteenth century Europe, fast forward and listen to the democratic side of the debate. We are not yet in the twenty-first century. What do we hear there? On the one hand, some very timid openings to other types of families, that led by same-sex parents; on the other hand, the defense of the “traditional” family. Who is to blame for its troubles? One culprit: Immoral men deserting their families, leaving misery and single motherhood behind them. Actually the law has the bastards pay for it.  Thats’ actually the only right they have: pay child support and better stay employed if they don’t want to end up in jail.

When will these sinister charlatans stop preaching and get real? The traditional American family has lost its preeminence? De profundis. Let us work with the families we have and give divorced fathers what they don’t have: the right to raise their children – and the obligations that come with it-  on an equal footing with their ex-wife or girlfriend. We will find out that single moms may be single moms but no single parent.  And everybody, children mostly perhaps, will be better off.

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The word parenting makes me cringe. It must be because ex wanted to inflict parenting

L'argent de poche (Truffaut)

classes on me when she put me on trial for child abuse; or perhaps because I had too many visits with my girls supervised by Comprehensive Family Slaughtering, which was in the business of putting me back on the right parenting track.

Since I have not seen my girls for so many years, parenting is a painful topic to me and I tend to avoid parenting articles in the press. This one – Why French Parents Are Superior (Pamela Druckerman) caught my attention. I told myself that there was perhaps something there to learn about “Frenchness” in parenting that the folks from Manhattan Family Court missed.

First, don’t let the title of the article freak you out. Druckerman wrote for the Wall Street Journal and this is a politically correct article in the Murdoch world, meaning solidly anti-French; Not the New York Post’s way (“a good French is a dead one”), but the Wall Street Journal’s way. Druckerman feels she has to tell the reader she is not sure to be willing to live in France (one wonders why such a thought would even occur to her);  She surely does not want her kids to grow like “sniffy Parisians.” Oof! One never knows.

Besides well-known facts – French parents have a life as adults while Americans parents don’t- there are interesting points in Druckerman’s article, like her discussion of disciplining a child in the American and French parenting traditions. There is one thing missing in her piece though (I can’t help being a sniffy Parisian, even if I have been living much longer in New York than in Paris): the word “parenting” does not exist in French. It just ain’t. The French raise their children (“élèvent leurs enfants”). So what? Perhaps parenting in France is more geared towards kids and not so much towards being a “good parent,” meaning giving the kids what parents did not have and think they should have: a good neighborhood, a good school, a good career…

I wonder how France and the US fare on the parental alienation’s front.

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