Can you tell that I have been on a bit of a Christopher Lasch kick lately? In light of my previous post about the family and capitalism, I now offer to my readers one of the best paradigms for family life I have ever read from an academic. It comes from p. 32 of The True and Only Heaven: Progress and its Critics.
We wanted our children to grow up in a kind of extended family, or at least with an abundance of “significant others.” A house full of people; a crowded table ranging across the generations; four-hand music at the piano; non-stop conversation and cooking; baseball games and swimming in the afternoon; a poker game or Diplomacy or charades in the evening, all these activities mixing children and adults–that was our idea of a well-ordered household and more specifically of a well-ordered education. We had no great confidence in the schools; we knew that if our children were to acquire any of the things we set store by–joy in learning, eagerness for experience, the capacity for love and friendship–they would have to learn the better part of it at home. For that very reason, however, home was not to be thought of simply as the “nuclear family,” Its hospitality would have to extend far and wide, stretching its emotional resources to the limit.