Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Kicking kids out of the house at 18 years old.

This time of year is both a time of excitement and of dread. Graduating is obviously something to celebrate, but what about the next step? While millions of these high school graduates will be looking forward to going to college, a significant percentage are living in unnecessary fear. This fear isn't about which college they will attend, or what vocation they're called to, or even what job they will pick up over the summer. Those are normal fears. The fear I'm talking about comes from none other than their own parents, who tell their children they will kick them out of the house now that they've turned 18. What is not surprising to me, but will be to many readers, is that this problem is the worst among Conservative parents (both Protestant and Catholic), and I've seen them make such comments quite frankly. But what many don't realize is that it is very anti-Catholic, since it's totally contrary to Catholic Social Teaching and the furthest thing from being Pro-Life.

The mindset behind this scandal is ultimately one of a Pro-Abortionist, since it views people children as something of a burden to get rid of. While Conservatives are known for generally being Pro-Life and Liberals being generally Pro-Abortion, in reality that's a serious oversimplification. A famous stand-up comedian who is also atheist made the point succinctly: Conservatives are only Pro-Life for the first nine months of life, while Liberals are Pro-Life after the first nine months. In other words, Conservatives make it a point to protect the baby in the womb, but afterwards don't really have that same sense of urgency when it comes to seeing that child grow into an adult. Liberals, on the other hand, reason that a baby is better off aborted if it he (we must stop saying "it" when speaking of the unborn!) wont be able to be provided for, and thus they tend to emphasize social programs that help families get by. Of course, both Conservatives and Liberals are both ultimately inconsistent, because they both have the same flawed view of Society, which is precisely what Catholic Social Teaching is all about correcting.

Contrary to popular belief (and rampant misrepresentation), Catholic Social Teaching is not about 'socialism' or 'giving to charity', but rather it is a philosophy about how Society should think and act (hence the term "social," as it's used academically). So it is very important to distinguish the false "hippie" version of "Social Justice" (fixated on blindly giving to charity) with the true, dogmatic version, which involves embracing principles to make Society operate in fair and proper order (i.e. Justice) on all levels. The first and most important thing to keep in mind is that Catholic Social Teaching is, first and foremost, a philosophy and has nothing to do with political parties. Any attempts to place Catholic Social Teaching in a Republican or Democrat framework are bound to fail. Since Catholic Social Teaching is also founded upon Natural Law, it is thus the only true and self-consistent philosophy out there, meaning any attempts to force it into a "Conservative" or "Liberal" framework will likewise fail.

The 'bedrock' principle of Catholic Social Teaching, derived purely from Natural Law and amplified in the Gospel, is called Solidarity. Though the term isn't always used, the Church has always taught this concept derives first from Natural Law. Pope Leo XIII states the principle as follows:
Man's natural instinct moves him to live in civil society, for he cannot, if dwelling apart, provide himself with the necessary requirements of life, nor procure the means of developing his mental and moral faculties. Hence, it is divinely ordained [by Natural Law, in virtue of Creation] that he should lead his life - be it family, or civil - with his fellow men, amongst whom alone his several wants can be adequately supplied. (Immortale Dei, 3)
Reason and Nature show that man was not made to live alone: he cannot provide for all of his needs by himself, he needs the help and assistance of others. Thus, he must rely on others to various degrees and they must rely on him. Solidarity is the principle by which man recognizes and lives by the fact he needs others to be fulfilled, and thus he must have a certain level of trust in mankind that they are looking out for him. In return, he must also be looking out for his fellow man. Many people think Solidarity only applies to the Gospel, where in we look out for others because we are Christian, but that's very incorrect. The Gospel only raises the standards by which we are to look out for others, particularly for the salvation of their souls, but the Gospel doesn't establish the bedrock principles, Creation does. The Parable of the Good Samaritan shows Solidarity goes beyond "religion," as the "heretical" Samaritan man rescued the "orthodox" Jewish man in need. It is when such acts are done in Christian Love, they are simultaneously fulfilling the Gospel as well.

A chief proof of Solidarity is shown from childbearing and rearing, which requires the cooperation of at least a spouse, but ideally also with an extended family. The child obviously cannot look out for themself and provide for their own needs, for without parental support there would be no next generation of humans. Plainly, one can see that simply protecting the child for the first nine months is insufficient. And from this, it is obvious that one cannot assign an arbitrary age by which the child must "fend for themself". So just as most (sane) parents know that a child cannot survive without assistance at ages 1, 5, 12, and even 15, this should lead them to realize that 18 is more or less arbitrary and not some magical number either. Of course, the duty of parents is to raise children so that they can survive and have their own family, but this principle is completely misunderstood by Conservatives who put a magical significance to "18 years old". The mindset has less to do with making sure the child is set and more to do with making sure the parents are set, meaning "now we can have the house to ourselves". This is plainly opposed to Solidarity and plainly Pro-Abortion, for it turns the parents' desires into (at least unconscious) self-centered motivations that will lead them to throw their child in the streets. 

Sometimes an executive decision is needed for a rebellious child, but that's not what I'm talking about here. The great majority of children who are kicked out are not rebellious. It is heartbreaking to see children who are pressured (if not outright forced) out of the house once they turn 18 and graduate, as if the prior years meant nothing and as if there were no parent-child bond. This is like pushing a bird out of the nest just as it is beginning to learn to fly solo. The results are often tragic, with the child now having to turn to whomever will "befriend" them, which often times means having to settle for cohabitation or a low paying job that forces them to work full time for rent and leave no time for schooling. It's here where many turn to drinking as a way to cope with life "sucking" so much (which is ironic, since our society says if you're under 21 you're too "immature" to drink and only "mature" enough to fend for all of your needs). It is obvious that 18 year olds are still children in a very real sense, and still need assistance almost more than ever since they're in a major transitional phase. It is here where parents should be encouraging vocations and living as Christian adults, especially now that other young "adults" are getting into serious problems and making their futures very difficult with sins and other bad decisions. 

Many parents will say they're only trying to get their child to make up their mind about college or a job, but this is still misguided as it is unnecessary 'life or death' type pressure. Not everyone is meant for college - not to mention the fact most college today is literally a waste of time, money, and full of sinful behavior and lifelong regrets - and nobody should be working out of fear. I believe good parenting will produce children who eventually do the right thing on their own, even with some healthy amount of parental pressure, precisely because of the true support they've received their whole life. Until that point, they can be good children at home, supporting the house through chores and whatever small ways they can, including regularly going to Mass and praying for the family. And how can we expect children to "honor your father and mother" when their parents don't show that care for them? How can a child be there to care for parents in their old age when the parent didn't pass on the value of being there for them?

There are many well meaning Catholics out there who unfortunately have this mindset, but it shouldn't be, and we should be educating them about what's right.


Our Family said...

Excellent article, Nick. Love that quote from the atheist comedian. Glad we found your blog!

Anonymous said...

Nick, was confused by your post.
-No supporting evidence this is a trend among conservatives.
-Calling them "pro-abortionists" who don't really care for their children after birth?
-claiming doctrine fits under "catholic social teaching" which derived from Natural Law with community (solidarity) at it's core, and is a 'philosophy' we must exclude from guiding political decisions?
-They are anti-catholic abortionists who "throw their child in the streets"?

Nick said...

Hello Anon,

I am not saying all Conservatives do this, but I've witnessed this many times in real life with people and talking with others. One example is a boy who just graduated highschool about a week ago. He and his family are very conservative. Yet for the last few months, his dad was having his son repeat the 'family rule', which is 'get a job, go to school, or you're kicked out of the house'. This was a VERY humble and intelligent and good Catholic 18 year old who wasn't a troublemaker at all, and he was clearly distraught about this.

While clearly not as bad as outright abortion, the mentality is certainly anti-family and anti-life, EVEN IF not intended. I've seen otherwise good children sink into the gutters after being kicked out for no good reason.

De Maria said...

Excellent article. I always thought of this idea of kicking children out of the house at 18 years of age being an American phenomenon. I'm a first generation American and I know this idea was not prevalent in our family when I was young.

I also remember the beautiful Indian actress, who in her 30's, was still living with her parents. She received a great deal of ridicule in America for revealing this fact. Yet, she, as I, believe the idea is stupid. Why, if you love your parents and your parents love you, would you leave them and not help them with the bills and let them help you with yours? Why go out and rent an apartment and give your money to a perfect stranger when you can be saving that money?

It makes no sense for economic reasons. It makes no sense for social and psychological reasons. It simply makes no sense at all. It seems to me that this has become an American phenomenon is because Hollywood depicts every family as dysfunctional. So, therefore, why would you want to remain with people that you hate. Americans have bought into the lie.


De Maria

JB_blogger said...

Hi there,

I usually read your articles on Protestants (which is excellent by the way) and have been doing so for couple of years. Recently, I decided to checkout the traditionalism section and I found your writing quiet refreshing in that area as well.

I come from a culture where children do not leave till they are married and even when they do, the parents move in with the family (the children take care of their parents).

But recently, I have noticed that this is a very foreign concept in North America. I even saw Paul Ryan, the republican VP candidate make a comment that seemed to normalize the "leave parental home soon" idea.

I for one think that this for of action leads to lot of complications and increases the risk that a person will go astray. So it was refreshing to see your article.

Nick said...

Hello JB,

Thank you for your comments!

I totally agree with you that the 'normalizing' of having children be on their own strongly increases the chances the child will go astray. It is painfully obvious to see this when children are sent away to live in a college dorm and are surrounded by moral depravity day and night. The joke is that while the parents thought "I don't need to teach my child anything more," they fail to realize the child is still very impressionable and will be "taught" all the wrong things by the world around them.

Anonymous said...

I live in a household with an emotionally/mentally abusive mother, and a father who does nothing to fight it. I have had terrible asthma and non-allergic rhinitis that has kept me from being able to finish my homeschool work. I am 20 years old and am forbidden to get a job and forced to stay home and do homeschool work. I took the G.E.D., but that isn't good enough for my parents because they consider it to be the option for a "high school drop out" and that it "looks bad" to employers. My parents didn't get me any specialist help until recently, so my asthma and non-allergic rhinitis couldn't be treated until now, 10 years after the problems showed themselves. I want to be able to get on with my life and go to college, but everytime I mention it, my Mom emotionally black mails me by telling me to "give her $1200 for the homeschooling". This school work has already set me back 3 years from what was supposed to be my graduation date. I have no money and no way to get it, and I don't know how to get any help out of my situation. On top of that, my parents are always at least a year behind on their taxes due to my mother's constant procrastination so I won't get any financial aid for school. I would be forced to get loans for everything. I've been standing up to my parents more lately because I'm opposed to the abuse going on and the other unreasonable actions. My Dad doesn't do anything about these things, being that he doesn't want to deal with my Mom's psychotic behavior when anything makes her angry. They do not want to treat me as an adult, and seem to want to keep me home. I want help out of this situation, but I have no idea where to go without ensuing the rage of my parents. Both my parents are threatening to kick me out of the house if I don't submit to every single one of their wishes. They believe I'm being rebellious, but I'm trying to follow my conscience and Catholic teachings. The Catechism states that I am to obey my parents in all that is moral as long as I'm living under their roof. They quote this and tell me that they can control who I date if I live in their household, even though the Catechism states specifically that they can't interfere with my choices of vocation or college life when I come of age (which I already have since I am 20, and almost 21). My Mother suffers from Depression and has been taking Paxel for years. She seems to have other psychiatric disorders, but refuses to get help for them because she denies their existence.