Margaret Hagerman teaches sociology at Mississippi State. She also studies white people. In fact, she spent two years studying “affluent white parents”. Her conclusion?
“ … helping one’s own child get ahead in society may not be as big a gift as helping create a more just society for them to live in in the future.”
In an op-ed recently published in the Los Angeles Times, Hagerman introduces us to Greg and Sarah. Greg and Sarah are concerned enough about their kids’ education that they send them to a private school. But there’s a problem: Greg and Sarah feel guilty for ensuring their kids get the best education possible.
“I don’t want to believe we are hypocrites,” Greg tells me. “But if we say diversity is important to us, but then we didn’t stick around in the place that was diverse, maybe we are?” He looks at Sarah. “I dunno,” he continues, “I guess we made decisions based on other things that were more important. But what does that say about us then?”
Well, Greg, I’ll tell you what it says. It says you place more value on your kids’ education than on social justice. And you have absolutely no reason to feel guilty about that.
Dr. Hagerman seems to disagree.
As progressive parents, is their primary responsibility to advance societal values — fairness, equal opportunity and social justice — or to give their children all the advantages in life that their resources can provide?
Now, Dr. Hagerman’s numerous degrees may be in sociology, but even so, there’s no way she would have been able to get as far as she has without being a good test-taker. So – come on, Dr. Hagerman. You can answer this one. Take your time.
Here’s a hint: IT’S NOT CHOICE A.
Unfortunately, Dr. Hagerman answers: More often than not, values lost out.
Note that: VALUES LOST OUT. Those social values to which her rhetorical question referred. Those values lost out. To what? To giving your children the best you can.
For the moment, we’ll set aside the fact that she’s just identified social justice as a value and has NOT identified providing for your children as a value. But we’ll come back to it later, because it’s indicative of a fundamental difference between progressives and conservatives.
Continuing, Dr. Hagerman reveals more about the subjects of her research and their “conundrum of privilege”.
“ … there was an unavoidable conflict between being a good parent and being a good citizen. These two principles don’t have to be in tension, of course. Many parents, in fact, expressed a desire to have their ideals and parenting choices align. In spite of that sentiment, when it came to their own children, the common refrain I heard was, “I care about social justice, but — I don’t want my kid to be a guinea pig.” **In other words, things have been working out pretty well for affluent white kids, so why rock the boat?** [emphasis added]
That’s a HUGE leap to make – particularly by one who is supposedly an expert in social research. Perhaps it’s not indifference or satisfaction with the status quo that keeps these parents from following Dr. Hagerman’s preferred path. Perhaps they simply feel a greater responsibility for raising their children than for reforming society.
And therein lies that fundamental difference we mentioned earlier. Progressives see parental responsibilities as less important than social activism. In fact, they’d prefer you not even see parenting as a responsibility but rather as a burden that you’re not equipped to carry. Want proof? It’s everywhere.
Having children is a punishment.
No vouchers to put the power of educational choice in parents’ hands.
Homeschool curriculum must meet the government’s approval.
The Nanny State must make decisions related to your children.
It Takes a Village.
The list could go on for much longer than this space allows. The point is this: Progressives believe conservatism and conservative ideals – whether it be small government, personal liberty, religious freedom, the sanctity of life, the rule of law, etc. – progressives believe those ideals persist in our society only because previous generations of ignorant, racist, homophobic, backward-thinking parents have passed them on to their children.
And they see the expansion of their influence on all children as the best means of stopping the continuation of those ideals. This is why they advocate for a greater focus on social activism and a smaller measure of personal responsibility for our children.
My wife and I have four children. Our relationships with them have taken a back seat only to our relationship with one another. We value them, we value their education, we value their community, and we value their future. We’ve raised them to treat others – regardless of skin color or social status – the way they’d want to be treated. They’ve seen us help others in the community, and they’ve seen others help us.
We’ve lived our lives this way because we hold dear the God-endowed responsibility of raising kind, thoughtful, educated, and empowered children. Along the way we have allowed other children to spend time in our home and have shared those same values with them. Some have accepted those values and feel part of our family in some small way. Others rejected them and see us only as a blip in their past lives.
But among all the people we’ve met along the way, we’ve advocated most strongly for our own children and make no apology for it. And though we’ve tried to help others in the community when we can, our primary focus has been on providing for our family and raising Godly children.
Dr. Hagerman might ask, “Aren’t you placing greater value on your children than on the future world they’ll live in?”
You’re damn right we are.
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