Sunday, June 23, 2013

Unconsidered Optimism and Diaper Changing Tables

Not all families were like this, but it was a common pattern in 1950s America:
  • Dad
    • Goes to work
    • Ignores the kids
    • Takes his wife for granted
  • Mom
    • Stays home in the suburbs
    • Being 'just a housewife'
    • Watching
      • Soaps
      • Commercials with improbably-cheerful women
        • Doing housework in high heels
    (June 2, 2011)
I do not miss the 'good old days.' My memory is too good.

I'd been trying to find that list, while writing a second comment on Brendan Walsh's Google Plus post earlier today. Like the one I'd left earlier, this one got out of hand. It's a long comment, but for me it's a short post.

What preceded this comment was a discussion of American culture and optimism, among other things.

The '60s: What Happened?

I think you will find the same sort of unconsidered optimism in the 19th century as well: with a comparatively brief hiatus during the Great Depression.

(This comment got rather long: sorry about that, I didn't have time to be brief.)

As to what ended it after WWII, the conventional explanation is 'the Vietnam war.'

I do not doubt that the protracted and seriously mismanaged Indochina involvement contributed, but am strongly inclined to see other factors at work.

After WWII, significant numbers of young American adults moved far from their homes. Post-war prosperity, GI grants, and a shift of the country's economic 'center' from the northeastern states to the west coast encouraged this movement.

American culture at the time was, as I recall, strongly inclined to take 'experts' seriously: including folks who billed themselves as child rearing experts.

For whatever reason, many American families in the 1950s had a father whose selfless devotion to his career left little time or energy for the woman and children living in his house.

Mothers, the 'good' ones, might spend more time on local committees than chatting with neighbors over how much trouble the children were.

The children had top-rate health care, a fairly good education, nice clothes, all the toys money could buy: and all too often little emotional connection with their father; or, in the case of women who were 'active in the community,' mothers.

My own parents, by the way, did manage to 'connect' with me. They weren't perfect, but I had no doubt that I was important to them, and responsible for my own actions.

Many of my generation, as they entered adulthood, had few emotional ties with their parents: and were trying to make sense of a seriously inconsistent set of values.

Some joined communes, some died of drug overdoses, many decided that 'the establishment' had to go.

I eventually became a Catholic.

It wasn't all bad news. Some of the long-overdue reforms my generation struggled for have worked out rather well.

One of these changes-for-the-better might be symbolized by the presence of diaper changing tables: in the mens' restroom!

I've written about that: "Diapers and the End of Civilization" (November 10, 2010)

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.