You can’t fight human nature

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 9, 2002

&uot;Your kids are not going to have anything to rebel against.&uot;

This was a remark one of my wife’s friends, Kim, made in response to Cathy revealing to her distaste for wearing clothing around the house.

This idiosyncrasy is not anything sordid. She simply feels clothing inhibits her freedom and ability to breath.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about Kim’s observation and it’s beginning to scare me a little.

Many people in our age group – 35 to 45 – shared a similar upbringing. Our fathers grew up during the Great Depression, fought the Second World War, came home and started families and pursued the American Dream.

They were mostly a conservative lot – drank their martinis, preferred Johnny Unitas and his high tops and crew cuts over Broadway Joe and his white shoes and muttonchops. Long hair and loud music were anathema.

Those in my generation had a far different experience. We grew up in a time of affluence, at least in comparison to our parents. The Vietnam War was not like World War II. It wasn’t black and white, good vs. evil. It was murky and ugly.

We had the Rolling Stones, Beatles and Bob Dylan persuasively preaching a lifestyle and a belief system that was the antithesis of what our parents believed, fought for and worked hard to preserve. So many of us rebelled against it.

My wife and I are certainly far different people than we were 20 years ago – wiser, more mature. And while we rarely engage in what some might see as stupid or even dangerous behavior, we’re far from what I would call uptight. We still like rock music and like it rather loud. We like to be silly and have fun. We consider ourselves tolerant and open-minded. How could any child rebel against that?

They can and do. Kim was dead wrong.

Our children are rebelling. On our trip back home from Thanksgiving in West Virginia, we found a great classic rock station near Charlottesville and after a few minutes of singing and playing air guitar and generally jamming, our kids were screaming for mercy.

Our kids hate to go anywhere in public with us because when we’re happy we sing and joke around. This embarrasses them to death. They like to stand around stiff and go to great pangs not draw attention to themselves.

I have no way to know for sure, but I would guess there are other parents of our generation who are experiencing some of the same things. You can’t fight human nature. When children are young, they mimic their parents’ behavior. As they get older, they rebel against it. If a child’s father is a preacher, that child is likely to be less religious. By the same token if the parent is an alcoholic or a drug addict, that child will see the effects of that behavior and rebel against it. My dad always espoused a theory that children tended toward the average, and I think he was dead on.

Our children are conservative and harbor beliefs and values that much more closely resemble those of their grandparents than their parents. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s merely human nature and the natural order of things.

Nonetheless, I’d like to see them veer a little toward the center. Maybe I’ll go buy some Sinatra CDs, hang a portrait of Ronald Reagan in the den and make the entire family gather around the TV each evening to watch Bill O’Reilly and tell them how right he is. I might even take up smoking.

Now if I could just get my wife to put some clothes on.

Andy Prutsok is editor and publisher of the News-Herald.