Applied Nostalgia




Applied Nostalgia--A Parental Look Back
Without past memories, Americans lack a standard to base present conditions
upon. These memories lie carefully shuffled and categorized in the giant shifter called the
brain to crudely approximate the present standard of life. They hope to draw gratification
and fulfillment in the progression of the quality of their and especially their children’s lives.
This innate desire to compare the past to the present drives personal and political
decisions, especially conservatives who advocate a change to the policies and values of the
past.
Today, the faded memories of an emerging group of parents of their post-World
War II upbringing, like cherished family dinners around the kitchen oak table and careless
excursions into town, against a perceived modern backdrop haze of random violence, date
rape, and single parent households, turned a group of parent’s hearts and minds to the
bygone 1950s. They hope to revive their cherished childhood memories. The Medveds,
parental authors, recall their upbringing: “The women enjoyed being home for the kids”
and “peers came over for basketball and homemade lemonade” (Paul 64). Shalit, author of
Return to Modesty: A Lost Virtue remembers when past women helped around the
community and raised their children with a unparalleled dedication (Paul 64). In the wake
of the Colorado school massacre such a move seems justified. Yet, even in spite of many
social ills of our “drug-addicted, sex-obsessed, morally lax and spiritually bankrupt
society” (Paul 64) parents remain skeptical. of such a drastic reversal in a drastically
changed time. For now, the skepticism over the reversal to the past merits further
examination before any drastic action.
The parents advocating a change to the past promote a bleak present and future
with problems ranging across the social, political, and economic spectrum, afraid that their
worries might mirror in their kids. Adult fairy tales that “marriage will last forever, sex
produces only pleasure, loyalty to an institution will be returned, and elected leaders are
benevolent and wise”(Paul 63) are to unbearable to be placed on the weak shoulders of
their children. Thus, they shield this information from the children.
Armed with reams of statistics, especially in the drop the number of nuclear family
homes in the United States (Two 1), they present a fair case for the reversal to the
parenting style of the aging baby boomer population. An incomplete list of their claimed
ills includes single parent households, an overly demanding work environment, influx of
undesirable media, and the feminist movement.
Fatherlessness, as David Blackhord president of Institute for American values
points out, is the most harmful demographic trend of our generation...and the leading
cause of declining child well-being in our society. It is also the engine driving our most
urgent social problems, from crime, to adolescent pregnancy, to sexual abuse, to domestic
violence against women. The evidence is now strong that the absence of fathers from the
lives of children is one of the most important causes [of the above problems] (UCSF 1)
In one augmenting study performed by the University of California at San
Francisco on California’s family makeup reported that twenty percent of children under
age eighteen are currently raised by a single adult.
Accusative fingers of these nostalgic parents turn like an vengeful hinged gate from
family structure to the work environment, citing statistics on the economic difficulties that
modern employers cause, or on personal obsessions with work that deters from the
infinitely more important job at home. “With parents trapped in consuming jobs, they leave
their kids to fend for themselves” (West 2).
The type of work and work environment changed in the last few decades with the
advent of new technologies and pressure on employers to cut costs. According to the
parents and researchers who advocate a reversal to the past, the modern work
environment is besieged with problems.
Reductions in real wages, corporate downsizing and the cessation of the ‘company
man’ ethos that governed American labor relations during the 1950s and 1960s has made
it impossible for parents to devote necessary time to their children because they have to
work harder than every just to make ends meet (West 1).
The goals of financial success have placed the goals of raising a kid to the back
burner. These impersonal parents scrape up the few extra dollars to buy the hearts of their
children (McCallum 2). “In our materialistic society, parents are more concerned about the
physical things they provide their children that about the values and habits that prepare
children for a life on their own” (McCallum 2).