We all like recipes, don’t we? The idea of someone else laying out all the steps leading to a scrumptious meal, or entree is pretty appealing. I’ll admit that my personal relationship with “recipes” is a bit challenged. Seeing as I rarely do the same thing exactly the same way twice, Peggy has gotten accustomed to the idea that I am always tinkering with the dishes I prepare. But even I use recipes as a jumping off point from which to improvise.
But what about behavior? What about morality? What about all those things for which we have recipes for our actions. We call them Traditions, but what they really are is peer pressure from dead people.
I’ve been thinking a little more about tradition since our Granddaughter married into a much larger family that is steeped in tradition. I have no doubt that she is independent enough to know when to give in and when to resist, she was raised in a very open household. Not all people are so blessed. The birth of our first Great Grandchild got me to thinking about how she is going to cope, because knowing how much I chafed under rules and regulations as a youth, I know that not all people deal well with being told there is only one way of doing things.
I think I mentioned some months ago, in connection with the Great Grand One’s baptism that the family has a baptismal outfit that some 60+ infants have used for their baptism service. Then I think back on the short engagement Peg & I had — barely 4 months from proposal to altar — and all the traditional things we were supposed to do that we refused to abide by and I scratch my head about how a young child who is pressed on all sides to behave in a certain way manages to make their own choices? It’s hard.
As a youth I was a rebel from the word go. But I had parents who didn’t push me to conform. I have no idea how the little one’s parents will do, or whether they will even recognize the challenge it places upon some youth. I’ll be interested to see how it all works out; and challenged myself to be a good great grandparent and let the current generation do their thing without interference. That is hard for every grand, or great grand parent, I’m sure.
We talk a lot about how peer pressure affect students and youth. But so much of the time we aim out critical vibes at the pressure from other young folk urging non-compliance with our traditional parenting ideas. We rarely consider tradition or the ways of our parents as also being “peer pressure.”
The Millennials have made a lot of Gen-X’ers and Baby Boomers stop and take note. Many of them are forming new norms and finding very different ways of looking at society and the prospects for their lives than their parents and grandparents did. They have no choice. It isn’t possible to exist on a single wage and a stay at home parent. It may not be possible to own a home even if both parents are working. And the new construction apartments are aimed at higher incomes so the percentage of income a lot of young people are having to commit to “rent” is skyrocketing. Money to do interesting stuff is harder to find: travel, entertainment, education, fun.
You’ll remember the poem I quoted a few months ago, Heroism. The opening lines have stayed with my like glue:
It take great strength to train
To modern service, your ancestral brain.
To hold that back with one hand,
And with the other to support the weak steps of new resolve.
In a world dominated by social media, TV, peer pressure and advertising it’s tough to break out and think for yourself. To dare to believe that you don’t have to be skinny to be attractive, or that you can have a trade instead of a degree, or that you don’t need to use alcohol or drugs to escape your life — these things are immensely difficult if you are the only one in your peer group trying to break the norm.
One thing I do know. If young folks don’t ever see people thinking for themselves they won’t think it’s possible. This is just as true of day-to-day human relationships as it is of Christians learning it’s possible to live by faith when they don’t see anyone doing it. There are a great many things in life that we doubt until we see that they are possible — because we see someone else doing it. SOMEONE NOT DEAD.
That is partly the reason that Peer Pressure is as strong as it is. Young people give in to peer pressure because other people doing or thinking or behaving in a certain way is proof to them that living that way is possible. Whereas the things they are told by their parents or grandparents or teachers but which they don’t seen those people doing — those things are relegated to the pile of impossibilities.
It’s not enough to give a kid a pad or a smartphone and let the machine babysit them. They need time doing things with people who have lived life, to see that the impossible things they are being asked to do make sense, that they are possible, that they make their life better, that they are worth the effort.
Tradition may be peer pressure by dead people. But if you don’t see people living that way it’s easy to question whether that tradition “works” in day -to-day living.