No Visible Means of Support

As a father who has raised two children successfully (judged by the fact they seldom drool), I feel qualified to observe and comment on today’s version of familius americanis typicalis. To put this in perspective, let’s first review a moment from 1990, when two young parents were attempting to establish good nutritional standards for their youngsters.

Wife: Eat your steamed carrots, please.

Daughter #1: Okay, Mom.

Daughter #2: All gone, Mommie.

Husband: But...they’re yucky.

Many years have passed for this control family, and the children have reached adulthood with a clear sense of self and vocation, although somewhat divided in the important category of church preference. While the oldest, like her mother, considers herself Catholic, the youngest does not. Thus, she and her father—a recovering Southern Baptist—feel the need to wear Groucho Marx glasses when taking communion. They also hope no one asks them for the secret handshake.

Religious concerns aside, however, I understand the challenges facing today’s young parents. When I see them in public places, I often walk up and helpfully shout out important suggestions, such as “Why are you just standing there?! You should be home saving for college!” They look at me, their eyes wide with deep appreciation, and I walk away happy to have touched another life.

And I’m especially concerned about the bewildering array of devices new parents feel compelled to use with their youngsters. Take the modern child carrier, for example. Gone are the days of carrying your child in a backpack where she was free to enjoy the view, lovingly pick at her dad’s baldspot, and reach around to grab his eyeglasses and fling them under a passing bus. Instead, today’s child is strapped to the parent’s chest, face forward, with legs dangling and arms flailing.

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Sojourners Magazine April 2006
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