DEAR JON LETTERS
Nothing About Christmas
CB's, parenting--even the consumerism has no holiday theme.
by Dear Jon
December 22, 2004
ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:
Whatever happened to CB radios? Have they pretty much been replaced by cell phones? Are CBs still cool or are you considered a redneck truck-driving yokel if you have one?
B.J. and the Bear
Maybe you are considered a redneck yokel just for wondering whatever happened to CB’s.
The truck-driving should only be considered in reference to CBs, and not in reference to redneck yokels. I say this for many reasons, the first being, that whereas “redneck” is a reference to agricultural workers who are burned by the sun, the epithet is now considered pejorative, conjuring up images of ethnophobic militia survivalists who drawl their provincial, fear-based hate and invective against people unlike themselves—the “rank and file” of the “angry white males.”
In contrast to this image, some of the neatest people I have ever known have driven trucks. I have known parcel delivery drivers who have been liberally educated. I have seen many more such drivers whom I have not known personally, who drive safely and defensively in congested urban centers. I have also known cross-country big rig drivers who, for having seen much more of the country and its diverse populations than I, have a greater hospitality towards the stranger than I. The roadside helpfulness of truck-drivers may be less evident today, through no fault of themselves, due mostly to spurious litigations that have scoffed at the efforts of “Good Samaritans” and chilled the entire cultural climate.
Whether truck-drivers have switched to cell-phones in the new century, or have “On-Star”® in their cabs, I really don’t know, and I don’t have time to find out. Any trucker is welcome to write in and inform us all.
ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:
Is it possible for a father to shower his son with too much love?
This is a great question for advice. My initial, knee-jerk, heart-strings response is “no way. Shower as much love on your son as you want.” However, that comes with some enormous caveats. By the way, as I wrote I got more and more serious in my reflection, partly because my own wife is expecting. So if all you want is for Dear Jon to be funny, skip to the letter at the bottom.
1. Too much love does not mean “give him anything he wants.”
2. Nor does it mean “let him get away with everything he does.”
3. It especially does not mean, “expect him to understand the depth of your love for him so as to manipulate his emotions.”
If you were a new Mom, I would suggest the difference between “mothering” and “smothering.” For Dad, the difference is between “fathering” and “bothering.” A danger is that parents, projecting so much love upon their children, will desire to protect them from every possible threat and suffering. This can retard the development of a child’s coping mechanisms. This is called “spoiling a child.” With all the energy invested in loving the child, the parent also risks coming to a point where they need the child to respond in love, or the parent risks burning out—running out of love because the parent runs out of energy.
The word “love” is inadequate to develop such complex concepts. In English, “love” is the catch-all word for everything from the visceral passions aroused by the fortunes of a baseball team, to the cherishing of one’s spouse. It is obvious that children are not equipped to meet the love-needs of an adult.
The ancient Greeks did better at developing the Love concept. From the adult to the child, the love must be purely self-giving. In Greek, this is called “agape.” Other kinds of love include “phile,” which is the love between friends and possibly siblings, and the love of “eros,” which boils down to the lusts of our mating instincts. Adults cannot agape their children too much. Adults must not project philial love on a need-based relationship with the child; treating a child as an equal and expecting philial love in return violates the boundaries of the parent-child relationship. And finally, parents must not cross the boundaries of eroticism with their children.
Agape love will sometimes mean that you choose to allow the child to hurt, because you know that the suffering will teach maturity. A child’s disappointments, therefore, must not be minimized or dismissed out of a sense of protection for the child. Instead, the child must be nurtured through the grief, so as to learn how to grieve well. This is also called “learning to cope,” and even, “growing up.”
ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:
Is it wrong for a husband to buy "luxury" items behind his wife's back when the couple is on a tight budget? Let's say the item is a rare CD that is out of print, and he can get it for half of what he's seen it go for on eBay.
Wow. The more I read this the more I am certain that you are certifiably insane. I mean it: You are completely crazy. I am not saying it is wrong or right to do something behind your wife’s back. I am saying only a lunatic thinks his wife will come around to seeing it his way.
What makes it worse is that you are justifying the purchase on the grounds of your own hobby. You are not going to catch Dear Jon in the middle of that fight!
Also, always remember that, tight budget or no, if SHE finds a great deal on a pair of shoes, which is not a hobby, you dolt, these blue shoes are a NECESSITY because they have closed toes and a strap in back, you will just have to scrimp a little more on your monthly beer ration. Those are the rules. I did not make them up, but God help me if I don’t follow them, and you too.
Next week, look for predictions for 2005 from Dear Jon.
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