Monday, February 18, 2019

The Postmodern Family

From Return to Order:
A recent study conducted by a British organization called OnePoll finds that one-third of Americans cannot even name all four of their grandparents. If this is accurate, far fewer know where their grandparents were born, the nature of the work that they did, or the things that they found interesting. Reflecting on this poll brings to mind the Fourth Commandment: “Honor thy father and thy mother, that thou mayest be long-lived upon the land which the Lord thy God will give thee.” (Exodus 20:12)

What does it mean to honor your father and mother in the “postmodern” world? During the sixties, the family was redefined as a “nuclear” social unit composed of individuals not necessarily married. This was one of the ill effects of the sexual revolution. The roots of this redefinition go back to the Industrial Revolution. Before large-scale migration, farm villages and small towns were really networks of relatives. Aunts, uncles, and cousins of various degrees of kinship were also friends, neighbors, and the members of the parish church. The admonition to honor one’s parents was easily extended to all of the elders in the community. Once people traveled to industrial centers in search of jobs, that sense of family disintegrated. When a man left his village, he took his wife and his children with him. In the new place, everyone was a stranger. By the mid-twentieth century, such movements happened every generation – maybe several times during a single generation. (Read more.)

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