[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

Jonathan Rauch has written a fine article which presents a plausible Grand Unification Theory of the origins of “Red” and “Blue” America. It begins with the research of Naomi Cahn and June Carbone, a couple of family law professors, who themselves begin with the wellpublicized fact that many of the states which contain populations most supportive of certain socially conservative values tend to also do very poorly at living those same values. As Rauch summarizes: “The country’s lowest divorce rate belongs to none other than Massachusetts, the original home of same-sex marriage. Palinites might wish that Massachusetts’s enviable marital stability were an anomaly, but it is not. The pattern is robust. States that voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in both 2004 and 2008 boast lower average rates of divorce and teenage childbirth than do states that voted for the Republican in both elections.”

What to make of this contradiction between espoused “liberationist” values and lived “traditionalist” practices (and vice versa)? Rauch, summarizing Cahn and Carbone’s research, reduces it to a bare-bones slogan: “In red America, families form adults; in blue America, adults form families.” But Rauch then puts some meat on the bones:

For generations, American family life was premised on two facts. First, sex makes babies. Second, low-skilled men, if they apply themselves, can expect to get a job, make a living, and support a family. Fact 1 gave rise to a strong linkage between sexual activity, marriage, and procreation. It was (and still is) difficult for teenagers and young adults to abstain from sex, so one important norm was not to have sex before marriage. If you did have premarital sex and conceived a child, you had to marry. Under those rules, families formed early, whether by choice or at the point of a shotgun. That was all right, however, because (Fact 2) the man could get a job and support the family, so the woman could probably stay home and raise the kids. Neither member of the couple had to have an extended education in order to succeed as spouse or parent….

That is what “families form adults” means. Many teenagers and young adults formed families before they reached maturity and then came to maturity precisely by shouldering family responsibilities. Immature choices and what were once euphemistically called “accidents” were a fact of life, but the unity of sex, marriage, and procreation, combined with the pressure not to divorce, turned childish errors into adult vocations.

But then along come two game-changers: the global information economy and the birth-control revolution. The postindustrial economy puts a premium on skill and cognitive ability….Blue-collar wages fall, so a factory job no longer cuts it–if, that is, you can even find a factory job. Meanwhile, birth control separates decisions about sex from decisions about parenthood, and the advent of effective female contraception lets men shift the moral responsibility for pregnancy to women, eroding the shotgun marriage. Divorce becomes easy to obtain and sheds its stigma….In this very different world, early family formation is often a calamity. It short-circuits skill acquisition by knocking one or both parents out of school. It carries a high penalty for immature marital judgment in the form of likely divorce. It leaves many young mothers, now bearing both the children and the cultural responsibility for pregnancy, without the option of ever marrying at all.

New norms arise for this environment, norms geared to prevent premature family formation….Blue norms are well adapted to the Information Age. They encourage late family formation and advanced education. They produce prosperous parents with graduate degrees, low divorce rates, and one or two over-protected children. Red norms, on the other hand, create a quandary. They shun abortion (which is blue America’s ultimate weapon against premature parenthood) and emphasize abstinence over contraception. But deferring sex in today’s cultural environment, with its wide acceptance of premarital sex, is hard. Deferring sex and marriage until you get a college or graduate degree–until age 23 or 25 or beyond–is harder still…[And in] any case, for a lot of people, a graduate education or even a bachelor’s degree is unrealistic. The injunction to delay family formation until you are 24 and finish your master’s offers these people only cold comfort….

Moral traditionalism fails to prevent premarital sex and early childbirth. Births precipitate more early marriages and unwed parenthood. That, in turn, increases family breakdown while reducing education and earnings. “The consequential sense of failure increases the demands to constrain the popular culture–and blue family practices such as contraception and abortion–that undermines parental efforts to instill the right moral values in children,” Cahn and Carbone say. “More sex prompts more sermons and more emphasis on abstinence.” The cycle repeats. Culturally, economically, and politically, blue and red families drift further apart as their fortunes diverge.

This all makes good, if sobering, sense to me. What it leaves unexamined, though, is the impact of religion. To what degree is religious faith, or the lack thereof, a precipitating factor in this cycle, or just an additional variable? It would be easy, for example, for those critical of religion to fault it for refusing to acquiesce to and legitimize abortion, birth control, and pre-marital sex, and thus of obliging those who embrace such beliefs to remain locked into a model of family development which so often backfires when faced with a globalized economy which primarily rewards only the mobile and the meritocratically disciplined? But it seems to me just as likely that is was the lack of religious faith (and relatedly, a lack of strong family and/or community attachments) which kick-started the division in cultural norms in the first place. Absent communities ties or a sense of meaning which emphasized continuing attachments, a sense of literal (as well as economic) mobility results…and soon, whole generations of young people find themselves in environments where the “Blue” norms of economic advancement reign, and who would fault them for recognizing reality, and adapting their personal behavior accordingly? A few generations of this, and what do you have? Well, you have Massachusetts, where low-divorce traditionalism and a culture of liberationism co-exist.

Anyway, food for thought.

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  1. “abortion (which is blue America’s ultimate weapon against premature parenthood)”

    I’m curious: is there any evidence showing that blue-state information workers with master’s degrees actually have more abortions? What is the proportion of out-of-wedlock childbith in the various states? At last count 40% of the children being born in this country are born out of wedlock, up from 2% in the 1950s. This is a catastrophe on a vast scale. It seems to me that two lessons can be drawn from this: the liberal indoctrination of condom use has failed, and the conservative insistence on abstinence has failed. I would argue that the reason both have failed is that in both approaches the responsibility is on the individual to take steps to prevent pregnancy. Previously it was not just the individual as there was intense societal pressure to make sure that if a man got a woman pregnant, he would “do the right thing” and marry her; the responsibility was on the whole community to make sure that this happened. This social pressure was the greatest tool to prevent single-parent families ever known, it kept the fatherlessness rate to be a mere %2 in the 50s.

  2. Oh I’m sure this will open cultural traditionalists to even more charges of being knuckle dragging cavemen stuck in the stone ages who need to get with the “zeitgeist”.

    I think that while the “Blue Model” may be more in tune with postindustrial society, the traditional model was more conducive to positive human development. The ability to start a family earlier presumed that one should grow up earlier. The Blue Model, in an offhanded manner, suggests that marriage and family is “something that old people do”. What is subtly implied here is that one needn’t grow up until their mid thirties or forties. I think we can see the effects of this mentality as they surround in daily life.

    In addition, the traditional model channeled the potential dysfunction that is inherent in “mistakes” (pre marital sex, out of wedlock births, etc) in a positive direction which ultimately benefited the wider community and the common good by enforcing an ethic of personal responsibility and maturity.

    No surprise that technocratic modern anti-human society did away with this model to the point where it has become a sad failed carcass of its former self.

  3. Empodocles,

    It seems to me that two lessons can be drawn from this: the liberal indoctrination of condom use has failed, and the conservative insistence on abstinence has failed. I would argue that the reason both have failed is that in both approaches the responsibility is on the individual to take steps to prevent pregnancy. Previously it was not just the individual as there was intense societal pressure to make sure that if a man got a woman pregnant, he would “do the right thing” and marry her; the responsibility was on the whole community to make sure that this happened.

    I think I largely agree with you, and with the attendant implication that, again, the whole problem is cultural in the end: with an absence of commonly held (and socially as well as sometimes legally enforced) communal norms, expecting individual young people (of which, let us note, both of us were once!) to always “do the right thing” on their own is a loser’s bet. However, I do think that the data which Rauch summarizes isn’t washed away by that observation: commonly held norms require a commons, and when the technologically-enabled, globalized, consumer marketplace lures the ambitiously meritocratic away from the commons and into the larger, more mobile, less settled world, those socio-economic commons disappear.

    Of course, there are yet additional factors to this as well; religion (and the decline of it), for one. I’ve been talking about that and some other historical issues arising from this topic with commenters on my blog.


    I think that while the “Blue Model” may be more in tune with postindustrial society, the traditional model was more conducive to positive human development.

    I completely agree; that’s exactly one of the reasons why talk of “family” or traditional” values still has force: because people recognize, and see reflected in the bulk of the stories they tell each other all the time, that a model of family and sexual development which emphasizes responsibility, humility, and turning one’s mistakes in a positive direction is for the best. So the issue for us, confronting as we do a postindustrial society, is how to shore up that “best”–especially when, as the data in this excerpt suggests, the “best” is no longer particularly, economically, rational, especially for young people? I’ve no easy answers, and I doubt Cahn and Carbone have any either (though I still want to read their book).

  4. I’d like to see whether age distribution is a factor in the divorce rates. Utah is one of the youngest states, I know. (This is also a factor in its apparently high rate of pornography use)

    “Moral traditionalism fails to prevent premarital sex and early childbirth,” Rausch writes.

    This is folly. Moral traditionalism is not allowed in the U.S. Trads rely on censorship of pornography, preferential treatment for married people (especially married men), stigmatization of deviance, supervision of lusty youth, and other public expressions of conservative morals. I do not know any place in America where this is active. (I wrote this before reading Empedocles’ comment)

    Blue-collar work for husbands would be much better paying in a world without feminist equal pay laws, too. Rausch praises female independence as a good thing, but I think it is just a sign that men aren’t expected to excercise responsibility. They may be over-reliant on independent women to support a prospective household. Or they may fear that an “independent woman” may just divorce him for a bad reason.

    It’s not just the “global economy.”

    Rausch is blaming a tradition legally barred from defending itself.

    I’m not sure if the “postindustrial economy” is the main factor. Not the economy but its cognitive elites put a premium on technocratic cognitive ability, and they rewrote the laws of the country and of the global economy to reflect that.

    For them, long-term self-interested careerism works in tandem with sex education, so it seems self-evident their mode should “work” for everybody.

    For the kids of the middling sort and the underclass, who miss their homework assignments and show other signs of irresponsibility, “effective” sex ed and its appeals to self-interest and career just don’t work.

    The non-elite relied on tradition and implicit customs to guide them to paths in their long-term interests. “Abstinence” sex ed itself is an innovation, since one of these old customs was discretion in talking of carnal matters in mixed company.

    Surely one reason for anti-elitism is that from the attenuated traditionalist’s perspective, the elites aren’t living up to their responsibilities and are instead using their position to conduct thought experiments with other peoples’ cultures and lives.

  5. Speaking of abstinence education, it has been known to fail time and again. It appears obvious why. At an age when young people listen more to peers and pop culture than perceived authority figures, why would abstinence education work? Combine that with the sex drenched nature of contemporary culture and its “tolerance” and you’ll have lots of teenage sex going on.

  6. “But it seems to me just as likely that is was the lack of religious faith (and relatedly, a lack of strong family and/or community attachments) which kick-started the division in cultural norms in the first place.”

    If I’m not mistaken the term “culture war” can be traced back to leftist intellectual Antonio Gramsci, who regarded the eradication of Christianity as a step toward establishing a cultural hegemony of advanced Marxism.

    What’s going on today hardly qualifies as a culture war anymore, though. It’s more of a mopping-up operation, which Gramsci’s heirs are carrying out against a few pockets of resistance here and there.

  7. Kevin,

    Trads rely on censorship of pornography, preferential treatment for married people (especially married men), stigmatization of deviance, supervision of lusty youth, and other public expressions of conservative morals. I do not know any place in America where this is active.

    That’s a reasonable element to add to the debate–“blue laws” of all sorts, legislation which outlaws non-traditional sexual practices, in loco parentis at universities, etc., all have taken a massive hit in the United States over the past two or three generations. So clearly, Cahn and Carbone (and Rauch) might want to consider the possibility that “red” states include those few areas in which said laws and norms are still, however minimally, in operation, with consequent effects for how young people grow up and marry. (I speak as someone who long lived in, and enjoyed living in, a dry county in Arkansas.) However, you still would have to account for why those laws and norms have taken the hit they have. My suspicion is you are discounting the consequences of the global economy, which relocated opportunities for wealth away from local environments, which encouraged mobility, which resulted in changing expectations for growing up, etc., etc….


    At an age when young people listen more to peers and pop culture than perceived authority figures, why would abstinence education work? Combine that with the sex drenched nature of contemporary culture and its “tolerance” and you’ll have lots of teenage sex going on.

    Well said. Which is why I saw an important conceptual link, in my Wendell Berry post, between the decline of a local economy (built around authoritative traditions) and the proliferation of sexualized advertising.


    If I’m not mistaken the term “culture war” can be traced back to leftist intellectual Antonio Gramsci, who regarded the eradication of Christianity as a step toward establishing a cultural hegemony of advanced Marxism.

    That’s incorrect, actually. The term originates in Germany, in the 1870s, as a way to describe the effort by Bismarckian liberals and capitalists to challenge the resurgence of the Catholic church (and in particular monastic orders) in Germany in the wake of the Industrial Revolution. Pat Buchanan and others have re-made the term in America to give it a quasi-Marxist angle, but originally, it was all about community-ordered religious traditionalists fighting free-market reformers and centralizers. (I also think you’re misreading Gramsci there, but that’s different issue.)

  8. Thought-provoking. It seems that economic narrative described must be part of the story. I’d also like to see the impact of religion, though less religious faith, understood as beliefs, and more religion as practices. The conclusion drawn from those particular statistics cited in the beginning, though, I tend not to buy whenever I see them. Most of my progressively inclined friends have no problem co-habitating for a long time before marriage, if they ever even get married. Few marriages, few divorces. Much contracepted fornication, few teen pregnancies. It ain’t just about divorce or pregnancy rates, ya know? I think the story is similar for Sweden, etc. And those centers of cultural change with low divorce rates, of course, are the ones that publish the fashion magazines and advertisements glamorizing immodesty and objectification. I think the cultural elites are just better at getting away with stuff.

  9. The biggest technological change of my lifetime was neither the computer nor the internet, but reliable chemical contraception. This changed the most basic of all human relationships, the relations between men and women. Previously, the risks of sexual activity fell disproportionately on women, and social standards (e.g., pressure to marry) were necessary to redress the balance. Now, women can act with the same abandon as men. But at the same time, they can no longer demand support. One cannot argue that having a child is “a woman’s choice” and then insist that her support is a man’s responsibility. Thus woman were often faced with the choice of abortion or the dual role of wage earner and motherhood (single).

    Red America is quite happy with contraception, even Red Catholics. However, in consenting to abortion, they also consent to the whole Blue logic, and the argument must come out the way it has come out.

    Allowing women to be “like men” also meant they had to be wage-earners on an equal footing. But the entry of vast numbers of women into the labor market lowered the median wage for men, especially lower skilled men, and this would have happened even in absence of other forces, such as outsourcing and globalization. Thus men were less able to care for a family from their own incomes, which puts more pressure on women to work. Thus, what was originally seen as “liberation” becomes a new form of subjugation. Plus ca change…

    The Red states try to hang on to values they have actively worked to destroy; the blue states try to recreate values apart from social structures that give life to values.

  10. I’ve never been inclined to place much stock in the idea that religion plays, or for that matter has ever played, a significant role in shaping morality. Rather, I think societal pressures and expectations are the dominate forces that drive the formation of moral boundaries and customs.

    Having said that, I don’t understand why seeing the consequences and difficulties of teenage pregnancy and early marriage doesn’t have more of an impact on young people in the red states (I hate to use that term, but I suppose it is apt). It certainly influenced my behavior. I’m the product of a teenage love affair. My mother became pregnant when she was seventeen, her family and my biological father’s family forced them to marry. They both dropped out of school. He went to work; this was the mid 1970’s so he was able to find a decent job as a welder. However, he had to work away from home most of the year and live in a camper—not exactly a good place for kids. As you can imagine, this distance put a strain on their young marriage and it fell apart.

    My mother then met a man while taking GED courses who she married. He adopted me, and they had my brother about a year later. I’m happy to say that this time it worked out for all of us, but to say their lives have been difficult is an understatement. They have both had to change careers several times, and when I was growing up we lived in constant fear that we would have to move at any given moment so they could find work.

    I’m not about to say that I didn’t have the same impulses and thoughts that all teenagers have, nor am I going to say I ever exercised much in the way of self-restraint. I will say seeing the difficulties my parents faced and continue to face, forced me to at least weigh the consequences of my actions and practice some degree of caution. Also, I should add that my ability to exercise “caution” was the direct result of my parents making sure I wasn’t as ignorant of the ways of world as they had been.

    Growing up as I did, I find it hard to believe that people who grow up in similar circumstances don’t come to the same conclusions that I did. Yet, when I go back to the place where I grew up, I see families in which there are multiple generations of teenage mothers and dead beat dads.

  11. My mistake — the concept can indeed be traced further back than Gramsci.

    I think one could safely say that his thought does employ the idea of a cultural struggle, though — or something very like it, yes?

    I admit I’m not a poli sci guy, and have only read a few excerpts from the “Prison Notebooks” for a lit theory course a while back.

    But what I did read seemed to pretty straightforwardly confirm the Right’s basic assertion about Gramsci — that he outlined a strategy for taking over the culture of Western countries.

    I’d be curious as to how Gramsci’s agenda might be read as anything other than anti-Christian.

  12. I think Rauch might be missing something if he doesn’t also ask how many people are getting married in Massachusetts vs. red states. I agree with a lot of his analysis, but it seems like the rural/red state expectation that one will get married rather than the seemingly perpetual child-like single life found in blue cities (see Sex and the City) might also be a contributing factor. It seems to me that the red state norm is superior at least in that regard.

  13. I agree, Matthew. I have long wondered if the achilles heel of the “blue states have lower divorce levels” argument was marriage demographics. Is it possible that red states have more divorce simply because they have more marriages in general than blues states? I would be interest to the correlation between the states in regard to overall marriage numbers.

  14. That the Pill helped lots of young women flop on their backs is no news. There were lots of us predators who just missed out on that revolution and would have given hormone time when we couldn’t even buy rubbers (“condoms” is the politically correct term now) without every mother in town knowing who was after their daughters. This high toned theory with statistical implications doesn’t impress me much. I don’t think that human nature has changed, or that hormones have diminished. And it’s interesting that nobody has yet brought up the fact that the Pill has not reduced unplanned pregnancies–in fact, they have increased exponentially since the Pill arrived. It also has not been brought up that Roe v. Wade has directly caused, and I underline CAUSED, the greatest holocaust in the history of the world. We don’t need red state or blue state labels, or sociological theories to understand any of this.

  15. The mark of how times have changed.

    It used to be that a man would walk into the drugstore and call out, “Hey Fred, give me a carton of cigarettes,” and add, in a whisper, “and some condoms.”

    Now he calls out, “Hey Fred, give me some condoms,” and add, sotto voce, “and a pack of cigarettes.”

  16. I’m surprised at how critically this study has been accepted. I think what we have is a terrible case of data mining. Some of the issues:

    1. There is the not so insignificant problem of race distribution. In the South, blacks make up 19.5% of the population (US Census 2000). The Northeast is 12.2% black. When we look to things like average age of first birth, we see ethnic and racial disparities. Asians, White, Hispanics, Non-Hispanic Blacks, and Native Americans/Eskimos have an average age of first birth of 28.5, 26.0, 23.1, 22.7, and 21.9, respectively. (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db21.htm) Blacks supported Obama at unprecedented levels, but for whatever reason they haven’t embraced “blue state” values. Yet, a significant part of the disparity likely has to do with population composition.
    2. The disparity between Massachusetts and Oklahoma for marriage, divorce, and age at first birth has been persistent long before the 60s. Our present Blue State/Red State division was born at the earliest in the 80s.
    3. The marginal cases aren’t giving us much better info. For 2008, the cases would be the states McCain would have won were he to have done 5 points better: North Carolina, Indiana, Florida, and Ohio. For Obama those states would have been: Missouri and Montana. The McCain States had an age of first birth of 24.6, 24.0, 25.0, and 24.7, respectively. The Obama states had 24.1 and 24.5, respectively.

  17. Has anyone here read Albion’s Seed by David Hackett Fischer? It’s about how regional and cultural differences among different waves of British settlers in the Colonial period have survived into regional and cultural differences in modern-day America.

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  19. The notion that globalisation is what caused the culture wars is one which is debated hotly. In many ways, nonetheless, I can see how globalisation did contribute to the culture wars for a very simple reason.

    Theoretically, under a purely free market, each country will specialise in providing the goods or services it is most efficient at producing, which is termed the “global division of labour”. However, even staunch free-market economists admit that such a system is not perfect because some countries are not able to produce any goods or services with the greatest efficiency: it is argued that these nations will specialise in whatever they are least inefficient at producing.

    The trouble is that, when one gets down to the bone of what natural resources each country possesses, one sees that the geologically young, mountainous and heavily glaciated “Enriched World” of the cooler regions of Eurasia, North and South America, plus New Zealand, was before globalisation split into a large number of diverse cultures. So was most of the “Tropical World” of the hot and humid regions of Africa, Asia and Latin America. These nations had developed on a geologically unique resource base of large areas of extremely young and nutrient-rich soils which permitted the development of highly intensive agriculture.

    However, globalisation has left the Enriched World and the more fertile parts of the Tropical World generally uncompetitive with the “Unenriched World” of Australia and Southern Africa. These regions could not develop agriculture before the Industrial Revolution because of their extremely old and infertile soils, but once science could to some extent solve these problems, their abundant flat land and hot climates with long growing seasons allowed them to totally out-compete the Enriched World. Moreover, the Unenriched World has many essential industrial minerals which orogeny and glaciation have in relatively recent times removed from the Enriched World, and whose abundance is so much greater than the rare minerals the Enriched World does possess.

    This has left the Enriched World able to specialise only in technologically advanced products, which naturally means that with time low-skilled men have less chance of finding jobs, except in the mass tourism sector, which no doubt has an extremely strong capacity to erode traditional cultures. It is this fact that has exposed the Enriched and increasingly the Tropical World to such cultural and political conflicts: its people want what Australia almost alone offers and the Enriched World can never have.

  20. The tragedy of our modern ways is not lack of access to birth control or lack of abstinence training or even lack of jobs for young people, it is prolonged (and even arrested) maturity and personal responsibility (and secondarily the separation of babies from sex both in our imagination and understanding as well as physically). For example: It is common now for 40 year old women and men to be unable to “handle” the stress of a newborn baby !? Having delayed childbearing so long they became used to only taking care of themselves and are suddenly overwhelmed by what used to be the basic human milestone that used to indicate adulthood.
    We see young men and women who spend decades of time and tens (and even hundreds) of thousands of dollars trying to “find themselves” while they change majors three times or maybe they don’t spend all that money on “education”(I would say “certification”) but work jobs that would not support a family while they constantly entertain themselves in a bachelor-hedonistic lifestyle. We have painted a picture of life for our young people that is intrinsically self -involved and directed toward consumption and entertainment.This does not make for good stewards of sexuality and therefore does not make for good parents.
    Imagine a world where young men and women reached sexual maturity around the time they achieved enough of a measure of social and emotional maturity to support themselves (of course they would continue to mature but they would not be emotional babies at least). I have been to weddings of young couples, virginal and excited and open to children and responsible for themselves. It is a beautiful sight and unfortunately rare and only seen in America in small subcultures. But it is possible –but not under the educational system we currently have.
    Sex is powerful. Instead of only trying to control it (with devices, chemicals or even purely social pressure which works for a few years say 14-18 years of age but but not for decades throughout ones’ 20’s and 30’s) previous generations and other cultures prepared their children for the onset of sexual maturity so that they could deal with the consequences of sex when it inevitably occurred.
    My kids (ten and under) know how to clean up after themselves and several younger siblings, how to make meals, how to care for a baby, be mindful of a toddler, how to be obedient and respectful. My eldest, at the tender age of ten years has many entrepreneurial endeavors of his own without my prompting. I am well aware that some people (those who think that childhood is about non-stop fun) would consider this child abuse. But of course I think it is neglectful to bring children into the world and then not prepare them for the adult life that awaits them. I am trying to teach them to take responsibility for their actions and for the younger children in our family and not allow them to assume these new cultural ideas that everybody else owes you food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, or even a job.
    My kids are home schooled. And while I can’t guarantee how they will turn out I am hopeful and at least I can live with myself knowing that I tried hard and did not just hand over my job to someone else and hope for the best.
    Some foundational truths that I have discovered while home school that I am teaching my kids (that they won’t get in public school):
    1) life is work
    2) fun is something that happens along the way, fun is not the destination
    3) learn to love work and you will love your life
    4) loving is hard work — and takes patience and practice
    5) you will be a miserable/ unsuccessful person if you don’t like to work
    6) you will be a miserable/unsuccessful person if you can’t make yourself do what you should, even if you don’t want to
    7) sex makes babies (that’s why it feels good – very few people would bother to have babies if it didn’t feel good)-[note:we have not talked about this openly yet but we will]
    8) your family loves you and will support you until you are able to care for yourself (and after that if you run into hard times) but nobody OWES you food, clothing, health care and job etc. it is your job to provide these things for yourself and your (inevitable) children- how are you going to do that? lets think about it now and plan. (Notice its not “what do you want to be when you grown up? an astronaut? a basketball pro? etc” Not the dreamy impractical nonsense but the simple talk about money and family– very basic!)
    9) childhood is not about having fun its about preparing to be an adult (again the fun will happen along the way as you master tasks — that is real fun!)
    10) if you live to entertain yourself or for pleasure you will not only become unhappy in the end you will probably become someone who hurts other people dreadfully and systematically and needs to eventually be put in jail
    11) you are not “alright just the way you are” we all have things that need to change about ourselves – things that will cause other people great suffering if we do not change.
    12) lets “keep an eye on” ourselves and notice the kinds of things that we need to work on in order to become the kind of people we want to be, the kind of people who will make good parents of children
    13) taking care of yourself is just the beginning! becoming a real grown up means picking up after and taking care of others too.
    14) sometimes life is messy and yucky or not fun, real mature adults don’t complain about this, they take care of it quietly.
    15) everything we have comes from God’s grace and Daddy working hard doing the job that God gave him to support us. Our food our house, our stuff, everything! We need to be thankful to them both! Maybe someday you will be a Dad who takes good care of his kids just like your Daddy.
    Basically we need to teach our children virtues, humility, patience, chastity, love, temperance, fortitude courage, perseverance etc etc… this is the way to happiness and fulfillment as well as the way to having meaningful work that supports the fruits of our sexual encounters and hopefully our married life.
    Kids need to see childhood as leading to something – as a preparation for the adult world. They need to see their childhood this way for a lot of reasons, for the sake of their financial success, personal fulfillment and so that they are ready and able to deal with the power of sexuality when it happens.
    I recommend this book on the topic:
    Young people who are truly mature will have no end to financial/job possibilities because good men and women are rare and will be noticed for their gifts and also because they will not look to others to provide the opportunities for the but will take initiative.
    Let me close with a conversation that I over heard between my 10 and 8 year old sons one night as they were going to sleep:
    “Well, Elias you can’t just choose a wife that’s pretty. She has to be good too or you will be really unhappy and your kids will be to.”
    “I know.”
    “A lot of women don’t want to have babies anymore and so you have to be careful about picking a girl who will be a good mother to your babies.”
    “Yeah, you don’t want some girl who will be mean to your kids or maybe she won’t want kids. S–(a girl they know) probably wouldn’t be so good. I want to be a Daddy. Not a bad Dad but a good Dad.”

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