Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Dialectic Materialism and Family Growth

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.


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your article. I never thought about teaching your child to rebel in the home. But to a certain degree they must (respectfully) after all we are still the parent.

Deciding when to set aside the authoritative figure to the supporting role can be tough. I think in a sense we always want to have the authority. Maybe its because we always feel what is right for our children. No matter how old they are.

Spencer Troxell said...

Parenting is definitely a humbling experience.