Diana West is currently trying to sell a book she wrote around the notion of perpetual adolescence and the abdication of adult responsibility. In a Newsweek interview (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20519355/site/newsweek/), she sites NY Times article, "The Boys in the Band are in AARP" (June 17, 2007). Apparently, old guys having the same kind of fun they did in High School sets a bad example for today's youth.
I probably qualify as someone she would say is a poor role model for my child since I'm a pot smoking 48 year-old woman. However, I've always exercised my authority with my child. I took him to tour the police precinct down the block when he was in Kindergarten. When I asked the desk officer to please show the boy what happens to all the people who have not listened to their mothers, she was delighted to participate. She let him sit on a long bench with shackles and everything. The other day, he and a friend were in the living room watching Snakes on a Plane. Both sixteen year-old boys agreed that I'd be perfect playing the Samuel L. Jackson role which says to me I may be a Menopausal Stoner, but I have plenty of mutherfuckin' authority.
Further, every Menopausal Stoner I've ever met has enough sense to dress their age - or at least like the old hippies they are. We get high and make fun of those old broads with tanned hide skin on Madison Avenue dressed up like the Charmed girls. We also ridicule balding men who have never been rock stars yet insist on wearing leather pants. Imagine George Costanza in leather pants - a bad role model for anyone no matter what age.
She describes a life with no beginning, middle or end, referencing Lionel Trilling. Trilling may be onto something, but I haven't seen his research. Diana West, at least in this interview, doesn't adequately explain how fun loving older folks are bad role models. It doesn't logically follow that adult responsibility has been avoided by people who are paying the bills, staying out of jail and saving for retirement. It also seems inherently necessary for a person to admit s/he is not a teenager anymore before joining AARP in the first place. If I'm reading this article correctly, West's premise is that responsible parents are boring old codgers.
As someone with two advanced degrees in Education and over fifteen years experience as a nursery school teacher, I will agree that many parents seem to be afraid to be the authority figure children require to feel secure. Kids who don't have limits have too much power over their grown-ups and get anxious. Anxious kids frequently are misdiagnosed with ADHD and other learning disabilities. This stuff is old news, and frankly, I don't think it has a thing to do with still finding the things you did as a teenager fun. It has to do with being an idiot. A person can get stoned or play in a garage band and be a wonderful role model. Buying your clothes from Lands' End doesn't guarantee you'll be a good parent. All kinds of people dress and act their age, but they are still butt heads about making the world a less frenzied, consumerist, apathetic, polluted and violent place.
Forrest Gump may have said it best: Stupid is as stupid does.
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