Default Positions

There are many areas where my family falls outside the mainstream way of thinking.  And while there may be things that most other people do and we don’t. that doesn’t necessarily mean that we think whateveritis is a sin. We have this saying I used to tell our children, “Others may, we may not.” People have to reach their own conclusions and convictions about the nuts and bolts of applying specific principles.  In our culture, or in any culture, really, there are just so many things we  accept as the default option without even thinking about it (that’s why it’s the default). My husband and do not like to go with the flow without thinking hard about why. We believe in parenting on purpose. However, default positions are insidious- they are part of the air we breathe, we take them so much for granted we don’t even realize sometimes that we are doing something without thinking it through, and so yes, we make default choices ourselves without even recognizing it.

In regards to the dating/courtship/whatever issue, whether we choose dating or not- I think we all can agree that we rush young people (we as a society) into romantic interests way before they are ready for all the responsibilities and feelings they entail, and we (as a society) seem to think that the last fifty years is all there is of social history.

Dating as we know and practice it (American society, again), just wasn’t known until during and after World War II. So when the ‘no dating’ concept sounds really weird to us, we need to recognize just how new fangled it really is- it’s a blip on the radar screen of history.

Although it’s billed as the way to get to know each other and sort of test drive a relationship, the typical movie date really isn’t a great way to truly get to know each other anyway. The best way to get to know somebody is not to sit alone in the dark, both of you facing a screen. It’s doing real things together- raking leaves at a widow’s house, baking cookies with the family, participating in a Bible study, sitting with a friend at the hospital, playing a board game or a game of kickball or volleyball with the entire family (you only REALLY know a person when you see how that person treats their siblings and their parents), or sitting down and actually talking together about the things that matter to you.
A dinner and a movie date is typical, and it seems like fun- but most people are on their best behavior, out to impress (even if they don’t do this consciously), and putting their best and shiniest foot forward.

Schooling as we know it is fairly recent as well.

So is the idea that children should leave home at 18.

The idea that it’s a burden for children to do chores or otherwise help around the house, is fairly recent, and I don’t find it a charming trend.

The idea that older siblings should have no responsibilities for their younger siblings, is also fairly new, and more than a little narrow-minded.  According to the book Korea 2010: The Challenges of the New Millenium, By Paul F. Chamberlin, the eldest son in a Korean family ‘bears the responsibility “for implementing his father’s will in the family by guiding and caring for his siblings.’
That, btw, is one of the things I enjoy about Korean dramas which feature families with small children. It won’t even be the main part of the story, necessarily, but watch, and on the sidelines the oldest brother is doing quite a few things for the younger siblings. I find it charming, although I know it comes with its own set of burdens, too.

The ideas that ‘you deserve a break,’ ‘you deserve to be happy,’ that diamonds communicate love, and so much more- our standard of living, what we think are needs vs necessities,  the list could go on forever.

And again, it’s not that everything on our list would be a bad thing, some are good, some are neutral- what can become a  bad thing is the taking them for granted as the one right way to….= that careless assumption of the default position.

What are some default positions your family has decided to rethink?

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2 Comments

  1. Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    We’re so outside the mainstream these days (much like you, but without headcoverings ;-) ) that we have to rethink our rethinking from time to time! We voluntarily participate in some things just because we don’t want to leave our family members behind so far that they can’t even relate to us anymore. We do Easter egg hunts, Christmas trees, and 4th of July parades and fireworks, even though there isn’t a single reason we can think of to do these things except that we want to be with the rest of the world sometimes. In it, you know, not of it.

  2. 6 arrows
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    A few things we rethought, and ultimately changed course on:

    Christmas presents from Santa (haven’t done that since our firstborn, who is now 22, was probably a toddler).

    Vaccinations: every last one of them, right on the schedule “they” recommended.

    Children (us deciding how many and when): If it hadn’t been for the Lord turning our hearts to receive His blessing of children in HIS timing, and extending my fertility long past age 40, my name here would have been “3 arrows”. ;-)

    And a couple things we’re rethinking currently, but have not made a decision on yet:

    Participation in health-sharing ministries rather than carrying health insurance.

    Severe cutback (or a complete blackout, even) on technology, especially for our youngest two children (ages 5 and 8). I haven’t been very diligent in limiting screen time (for any of our children or myself) since getting internet at home not quite two years ago. The computer is there, with internet access, and our default mode has just been to use it, without much regard for how much time it takes away from other things (important things), or what neurological ramifications there may be for the younger kids. I’m learning more (through experience and otherwise) about the drawbacks of technology, but need to get beyond knowledge and move toward implementation. I don’t know why it’s so hard sometimes to just say, “That’s enough.”

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