Tuesday, 28 November 2006

About this blog

This blog is a record of - and I hope the start of a debate with others about - our efforts to bring our children up in ways which do not bow to the prevailing culture. Hence counter cultural.

There are both negative and positive reasons for this. The positive are more important to me, but likely to be more individual; the negative I imagine may be shared by many other parents, so I will start there.

The negative reasons are simply that there is much in the prevailing culture which is not good for children - nor for the rest of society.

A few graphic examples of this are:

The recent report suggesting that many young men commit street crime for kicks;
The extent and growth of casual sexual promiscuity among the young, with the attendant problems of sexually transmitted disease, early abortions and emotional/psychological trauma;
The growing drug and gang culture.

Time and again I come across parents who do not like some aspect of their children's behaviour, but who feel resigned to it: 'It's what all their friends are like, so what can I do?'

This blog is for parents who wonder if there is anything to be done, and if so what.

It will recount some of our experiences raising our four children (Antoinette 16, Bernie 13, Charlie 10 and Dominique 8), comment on the experience of other parents we know, and provide a lot of provocative (in the sense of thought-provoking) ideas for others to think about - and, I hope, respond to.

So how do you raise counter-cultural kids?

Here's a few things we do that may be at variance with societal norms:

We sit together as a family for our meals
We go for walks together on a regular basis
We don't have a TV
We read to the smaller children every night - a book worth reading
We allow our kids to take a lot of risks (at the physical level) such as climbing trees, exploring the local countryside unsupervised, and taking up exciting hobbies and sports (rock climbing, sailing, etc)
We don't allow our kids to hang around in shopping centres or go to sleep-overs or parties where we don't know and trust the parents concerned
We try to ensure our kids have a lot of fun - more than their peers
We don't buy them much stuff
We encourage them to pursue interests like music seriously
We (their parents) love each other and are committed to staying together no matter what...
We pray together every day

Which brings me to the positive reason for being counter cultural: we want our kids to grow up in our Faith, as informed, intelligent, confident and brave adults. If you've got this far and are suddenly disappointed to find I'm just a religious nutter, don't give up - much of this blog may still be of interest.

More on many of these themes will follow.


A Catholic journeying to Rome said...

nice work! i like it, but sometimes i wonder... isn't this a bit idealistic? It isn't always possible to complete all the things on your list. What do you think to those situations?

Ben Trovato said...

I don't intend this to be a blue print for others to follow - merely an account of what we're trying to do to stimulate thought.

So it's not idealistic in the sense that we manage to do it - but I realise we are very blessed.

The question for all parents is whether they want their kids to grow up enculturated with the current culture or not. And if not, what might they do about it?

Interested to discuss this further if you want to: what on the above list is not possible and why?...

Matt Doyle said...

I hope to be a counter-cultural father too. This will be a powerful resource for me as I begin to raise my family in the Catholic Faith.

Ben Trovato said...


thanks for your comments. However, I hope you engage critically with anything I say or suggest - this is just what we're up to, not advice for others!
My hope is that it will provoke others to think more freely and radically (in the literal sense fo going to the roots of the issue) about their responsibilities and possibilities as fathers to raise civilised children in a culture which is at war with civilised values

A Catholic journeying to Rome said...

It is impossibe never to buy your children anything. Think of clothes, food etc. xxx

Ben Trovato said...

Sure - we do feed and clothe them! And buy them toys and games come to that. When I said 'we don't buy them lots of stuff' I really meant all that extra stuff - fashion clothing that is worn once or twice and discarded. electronic games, etc etc.

We're not puritans, but we are trying to resist the consumer culture - the idea that you are made happy by spending and consuming (which is so manifestly untrue...)