Children Are Created to Change the Future and Appreciate the Positives of the Past

I have a theory about parenting based upon much of the work that I have done with dreams that the issues that first children face have a great deal to do with changing the way things are in one’s family, and that the last children’s issue are designed to change the culture around them. I am a last child and my mother and her mother were all last children. We just all seem to have a way of not going along with things.

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My mother’s doctor told her, after her spinal surgery, that she wouldn’t be walking in 10 years. That was was more than 20 years ago. She is now 86 and can still out walk almost anyone. She just has a way of refusing to listen to what others believe. She calls it self discipline or having an iron will, but I think that she believes that things can be different than what the culture adheres to and then just goes and does what she wants. Last year at 85 she started doing Chinese brush painting for the first time and now works on it vigorously. That kind of quality is much more than self discipline. It is just looking the culture in the eye and saying, “Get out of my way. You have no business in my life.” I mean let’s face it. Medical school is supposed to be the pinnacle of western education. Thousands of students compete for very few openings in universities, but my mother just decided somehow that they didn’t know what they were talking about. She did let them operate on her which means that there are parts of the culture worth keeping, but she didn’t hand over her mind to the culture. You have to love that.

First children put their issues right in your face because their issues are your issues. The last children suffer for the weaknesses in the culture. It is extremely difficult for us, the last children, not to throw out the baby with the bath water. When I was 18 I was so unaware of this dynamic, that I went off to a military academy thinking that perhaps if I had more self discipline or something like that, that I my life would really be improved. It didn’t take me long before I started to wake up and see that what the culture had created wasn’t working very well and that self discipline was not the issue. What I had a much more difficult time with was how to sort out what was useful and working, and what needed overhauling. I had a huge desire to throw out everything having to do with an ordered life and restrictions because the academy didn’t have much room for things like creativity and expressing one’s opinions. Now I know that there is a great place for being organized and having rules and discipline, and they don’t exclude creativity, encouragement, and intimacy. I personally think that most of my events and classes work best when I spend the time in the organization and have restrictions on what students can and cannot do. When I add creativity and encouragement into the mix, the classes become magical.

What happened at the academy was that too much criticism and unbalanced order began to have a detrimental effect on my character. It forced me into understanding the role of encouragement and creativity, but the negative effects of the academy’s culture distorted how to integrate constructive opinions and order. I was just so compelled to not see their place because of the pain that I felt. This is the last child’s dilemma. I don’t see it that often in first children. They seem to survive the culture much better, but don’t survive their family very well.

The difficulty for us is being able to live and appreciate the positive things in the culture while at the same time trying to change it. We become so dysfunctional by the negative aspects of the culture that we go into a funk that keeps us from doing our part. I just always feel like screaming out about how bad my culture is/was, but I know it has some amazingly positive aspects to it which I can really appreciate. I just wanted to do to the academy what it did to me, criticize it.

Now I understand that changing the culture is much easier than I ever thought by first appreciating and acknowledging the positives around me, and then systematically going after a specific issue that is causing the greatest difficulty.

Juliet is my youngest daughter so I am now in the habit of seeing where she focuses to see what the culture needs to do. If you read her blog, (hoogliart) you can notice that in recent times she has shared with us a great deal about simplicity. So I think I will take her lead.

2 Comments on “Children Are Created to Change the Future and Appreciate the Positives of the Past

  1. I just happened to check out a couple of books on birth order and its effects on children and families. I haven’t gotten around to them yet, but it’s really helpful to read what you wrote here. As all of my friends start to have kids, I’ve noticed that all of the first children are so similar and now the second children are all similar as well in their characteristics. It really intrigued me and I really want to know more about this.

  2. Richard you show a lot of humility and discernment in your reflections. I am constantly learning from you. Thanks for sharing your insights with the rest of us!!! As an only child, I am the first and last child, so any insights about some of our issues.

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