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    The AtlanticDavid Brooks2/10/2049 min
    9 reads11 comments
    9.7
    The Atlantic
    9 reads
    9.7
    You must read the article before you can post or reply.
    • Jessica4 months ago

      15/10, a must read.

      Our culture is oddly stuck. We want stability and rootedness, but also mobility, dynamic capitalism, and the liberty to adopt the lifestyle we choose. We want close families, but not the legal, cultural, and sociological constraints that made them possible.

      Admittedly, the first part of the article made me feel like a downer. A future reality of being stuck in this oxymoronic space forever made me panic for a hot second. The description of a mother with a baby carriage walking alone in the middle of the suburbs with few (to no) others around, none of them interacting with one another, is something I have regularly witnessed in the places I've lived. And that image has always made me scratch my head.

      The good news is that human beings adapt, even if politics are slow to do so. When one family form stops working, people cast about for something new—sometimes finding it in something very old.

      So glad that David Brooks continued on a higher note, telling stories of those who have dedicated their days to creating communities outside of the nuclear and extended family. I'm excited to see if towns and cities will adapt housing blueprints that optimize for community living and creating forged families.

      This story of All Our Kids made me beam:

      Some years earlier, Kathy and David had had a kid in D.C. Public Schools who had a friend named James, who often had nothing to eat and no place to stay, so they suggested that he stay with them. That kid had a friend in similar circumstances, and those friends had friends. By the time I joined them, roughly 25 kids were having dinner every Thursday night, and several of them were sleeping in the basement.

      I joined the community and never left—they became my chosen family. We have dinner together on Thursday nights, celebrate holidays together, and vacation together. The kids call Kathy and David Mom and Dad. In the early days, the adults in our clan served as parental figures for the young people—replacing their broken cellphones, supporting them when depression struck, raising money for their college tuition. When a young woman in our group needed a new kidney, David gave her one of his.This story gives me so much hope for the future of families, and how they may look different from the nuclear family we often envision. It makes me excited for the evolution of parenthood, and what parenthood may mean for future generations.

      Government support can help nurture this experimentation, particularly for the working-class and the poor, with things like child tax credits, coaching programs to improve parenting skills in struggling families, subsidized early education, and expanded parental leave. While the most important shifts will be cultural, and driven by individual choices, family life is under so much social stress and economic pressure in the poorer reaches of American society that no recovery is likely without some government action.

      I am inclined to agree with this. It's so difficult to break out of our routines of doing everything on our own. On top of that, I feel that there is a declining trust in both our institutions and in people around us. There seems to be a hesitation in wanting to engage with people we don't know, even if they may live in the same town/space as we do.

    • jeff
      ScoutScribe
      1 year ago

      Incredibly important read! This article does an amazing job of demonstrating the importance of family structure and also pointing out the pitfalls of both contemporary conservative and liberal positions on the subject. With increasing amounts of focus on the loneliness epidemic and diseases of despair this article delves deep into many of the causes but also ends on a high note with some emerging remedies.

      • bill
        Top reader of all timeScout
        1 year ago

        Upvote. Love this take.

    • bill
      Top reader of all timeScout
      1 year ago

      I have no idea how David Brooks gets away with saying some of the sh*t he says (example: “The black extended family survived even under slavery”) but I think it has something to do with how hungry we are for a singular explanation that brings all of societies ills under one umbrella - in this case, the failure of the family.

      It’s true that wealthy people have a tendency to pat themselves (and each other) on the back for raising strong nuclear families, when, in reality, they’re just paying to outsource the hard (emotional) work to hired help.

      It’s also true that universities are a farce. I have been saying this for years, but I really do believe that some big changes will happen in this generation. Higher education is an engine to protect wealth, privilege, and class-status. Period. That’s the singular purpose of these institutions. Almost everything else that happens at colleges and universities is bona fide fake news, but everyone loves the illusion.

      And because universities have a monopoly on scientific research and intellectualism in general (it’s extremely abnormal to study Shakespeare if you’re not in college) we all allow this farce to continue. The opportunity cost is huge. If we could turn all people into lifelong learners instead of squeezing it into the margins of a four year party for rich kids (And look! Now they have some poor friends too!) that would be great for society. Perhaps the most damning aspect of the whole thing is the grand illusion of diversity going on at these places. The obsession (borderline fetishization) with first generation students and non-white students actually screws everyone up. It’s a cover-up act and it works.

      I’m not saying I have the answer, but I’m concerned that too few people are actually discussing the problem. The way that conservatives fight affirmative action plays right into the hands of elite, liberal colonizers. That’s frightening. So too is the way that democratic candidates for president are promising free college education to all. Just take a fuckton of money and burn it. That would be faster and less brain-damaging for our 20 year olds.

      • jeff
        ScoutScribe
        1 year ago

        I find it kind of disturbing that you seem to be implying that the author should not get away with saying something. What's wrong with the line you quoted or anything else from this article?

        Higher education is an engine to protect wealth, privilege, and class-status. Period.

        If you were talking about legacy admissions at Ivy League schools I'd be inclined to agree, but I think you're painting with way too broad a brush here. A college education has been the source of upward mobility for huge swaths of the population.

        • bill
          Top reader of all timeScout
          1 year ago

          Great points. I guess it's a good thing when writers go all-in on some thought or idea, even if it means making some broad generalizations or opinion-based claims. Brooks has made a career out of that.

          I think you're painting with way too broad a brush here.

          No doubt. I totally agree, especially after re-thinking and re-reading a week later.

      • theesakker1 year ago

        How do you implement 'life-long learning'? Do you have any ideas? Isn't free access to college part of that and doesn't it equalize (at least a bit) access across socio-economic levels. It still doesn't equalize across privileged social networks for finding good jobs but it could be a good start. Maybe free college isn't the right answer but I think a 4-year degree should at least be affordable at a minimum.

        • bill
          Top reader of all timeScout
          1 year ago

          (at least a bit)

          That’s my fav part of your comment. Because yes. It does equalize access. But... just a bit... and at what cost?

          Ivy Leaguers “see” other Ivy Leaguers, and ignore the rest of society. So, for me, the important part isn’t the conversation about access, it’s about who has the power to grant access: A small, scary club.

          Sorry if I’m talking too much (again) but I love this conversation. 👍

        • bill
          Top reader of all timeScout
          1 year ago

          Great thoughts! I don’t know how to implement “life-long learning” but it has something to do with (1) the internet and (2) doing work that is actually enriching.

          The thing is that college isn’t “free” even when it is. It costs a ton to put the rest of your entire life on hold for 4 years when you’re just entering your “prime” years. It’s a great time to launch a career or start a family. I think that the entire idea that we need to take 18-22 year olds and put them through required certification programs would be completely laughable if it wasn’t for the fact that they’re so baked into culture and society. It’s the word “required” that peeves me. If there were other options, that would be better.

          Since college is an unavoidable reality of modern life, I agree that it should be “affordable at a minimum,” but that’s exactly the problem. God knows if I’ll ever have kids, but I can imagine wanting them to go to good schools to “get ahead.” What the world really needs, though, are some different ways to get started in cool, enriching careers.

          My strong opinion is weakly held, btw, and is very anecdotal and personal. I grew up upper middle class and went to Stanford undergrad and it was way too much way too fast. It wasn’t a time to explore or be creative, despite the fact that that’s how it was billed. It’s career conditioning. The hardest part is getting in (especially if you’re not rich) and then you’re on a treadmill, whether you want to be or not.

    • theesakker1 year ago

      Interesting of analysis of how we got to where we are now. Lots of these concepts have occurred to me but I was never had the historic background to understand them.

      • jeff
        ScoutScribe
        1 year ago

        Agreed! I loved the historical context and feel like it really helped to put the current situation in perspective. Thanks for posting this! Perfect Sunday read.