Posted in Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, Uncategorized

Does Culture Determine Dysfunction? (Part Two)

Welcome again!

The quote: “Dysfunction is dysfunction no matter what the culture.”

Where we left off: Our culture (i.e., social mores, etc) impacts how we live. When a family is raised with two (or more) cultural backdrops, rules, choices and opinions might conflict. (Link to the previous post, should you care for more background. 🙂 )

In the novel by Cynthia Keller, A Plain and Fancy Christmas, lead-character Rachel was raised to believe children are not to be the center of attention. She expects her daughter’s behavior to reflect that, and takes steps to insure that Katie does.

From the day they were born, my children became the focus of pretty much everything, with their father and I making a big deal out of every little sound and action that came out of them. We’ve taught them their input matters. We’ve also had times when, despite their feedback, we’ve made decisions our kids didn’t like, but felt was our prerogative to do so as parents.

Despite some hiccups here and there, our teenage boys are generally respectful. They’ll present their cases when asking for something they want, and have shown the ability to take a step back and not react when things don’t go their way. (Younger Son might hem-and-haw up front and often needs a little more time to come up with a more appropriate response. I can wait.)

I’m not saying you have to raise kids a certain way. Note this too: someone else—your spouse, a grandparent, neighbor, teacher, cashier, etc—will ALWAYS have an opinion on the choices you consider and/or make on your journey as a parent. Your job will most likely include figuring out how to filter through the chatter surrounding you. (Sometimes, there is some validity to what other folks have to say. None of us has all the answers.)

This parenting gig is a process, folks. There aren’t a slew of right or wrong blanket answers to be had, nor is there always an immediate solution to an issue you might be facing.

What I am saying: In the final analysis, I don’t believe you can fully separate the cultural influence. You’ll most likely wind up flubbing your way to finding the balance that works for you and your family. Hopefully, it will be one that allows you to be able to function happily and peacefully as individuals—and as a unit—within the society in which you live.

Thoughts? Ideas? Questions? Concerns? Difference of opinion? Please don’t hesitate to share any/all in in the comments. There’s always email too: joanne@joannectimpano.com

Enjoy the weekend,
Joanne

 

Posted in Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, Uncategorized

Does Culture Determine Dysfunction? (Part One)

Hello again! I’m hoping all is well with everyone, and thanking you yet again for giving of your time to stop in!

Let’s go right to it:

“Dysfunction is dysfunction no matter what the culture.”

Someone said that to me at least 20 years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it. I’m not sure I agreed with the person then, and I’m still on the fence about it now.

I recently read, A Plain and Fancy Christmas, a novel by author Cynthia Keller. (BTW, this is not a review of the story.)

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In this switched-at-birth story, a young, Amish-raised widow (Rachel) learns she is the biological daughter of non-Amish (a.k.a., “English”) parents. About mid-story, Rachel takes her 10-year-old daughter (Katie) to New York City to meet their blood relatives.

They all go out to dinner. Rachel’s biological parents are thrilled to meet their only grandchild, and behave as “English” grandparents might.

Here is a snippet from page 168:

The waiter came over to ask if they were ready to order.

“Katie,” Gil (her grandfather) said, “do you know what you’d like?”

Rachel bit her lip. It was…not right for an eleven-year-old to be the center of attention this way, all the grown-ups fussing over her and allowing her to order her food first. This was not their way. She could imagine how upset her mother would be if she knew.

(edited for brevity) Rachel leaned over to her daughter, whispering in her ear to remember her manners, no matter how nice and casual everyone was to her.

This passage struck me immediately, and got me thinking about how our cultural backgrounds impact the way we raise our children and judge their behaviors.

What Rachel perceives as ‘wrong’ is based on her Amish upbringing.

The “English”—or those raised in a Western, American-type civilization—tend to openly dote on their children and lavish them with attention. The “English” often allow their children a voice, typically asking for input and offering them choices. We see it as part of helping foster the self-esteem and problem-solving abilities that ultimately result in independence as adults.

That brings me back to my original question: Is dysfunction culturally determined?

My gut, coupled with my education and life experiences to this day, suggests that it is.

Disclaimer: I am not saying anything and everything kids want is okay. (That applies to adults too.) Perhaps this is all my IMHO, but murder, hurting others purposefully—you know, meanness, in general—is a no-no regardless of culture, race or religion. (Certain religions, however, might disagree, but that’s not what this is about.) What I am saying is the “English” tend to be driven by “if it feels right” it’s probably not necessarily bad.

Our culture (i.e., social mores, etc) impacts how we live. When a family is raised with two (or more) cultural backdrops, rules, choices and opinions might conflict.

To keep from getting too long-winded in this post, I will reflect on this topic in more detail next time.

Until then, what are your thoughts on the initial question? Do you agree? Disagree? How much weight do you give your child(ren)’s input on a given matter? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, or you can always email me here: joanne@joannectimpano.com.

Have a blessed day,

Joanne