By Eowyn OR
One of the most important things many folk will do in their lives is to raise a family; so naturally, it calls for some of the most serious planning one will ever do in life. Hence, it is not unusual for folk to raise questions on the forum relative to family roles. And as a group united by shared visions and yet from diverse backgrounds, the replies often reflect this fact, which is only right and natural.
However, there is one ingredient of consideration that is rarely mentioned and which I believe needs more regard when the questions are being considered and that is of the role of “the family” within the wider framework of society. Such regard should help folk to find the right answers for their situation and also to establish some guiding structural principles that will form the bedrock of the values they teach their children. Establishing a proper understanding of the definition and role of such parameters is important, even before the twinkle of parental longing lights the couple’s eyes.
So now let us clarify what we mean by “the family.” Usually, we mean the “Nuclear Family,” that is, a group consisting of a father, a mother and any number of children living in the same location. Contrary to popular perception, it has not always been the predominating model. Indeed, it only became an independent model in Western Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries with the emergence of industrialisation and capitalism and the migration from the countryside into urbanised settings; for it was then that the nuclear family became a viable financial unit when before, it wasn’t. In particular, increased wages meant that working class folk were able to buy their own homes so that two parents and their children were not sharing their living space with others. Before this time, the nuclear family was generally embedded within the extended family, consisting of grandparents and other family members who all shared a common space – often the family farm.
Over the centuries it can be seen that the perception of the role of women in particular has shifted as political, social and religious considerations moved society firstly towards more patriarchal domination and ultimately to today’s materialistic, secular, multicultural society subject to the whim of politics and devoid of the natural bond of folk and community. Even looking back into the relatively recent history of our folk – the Viking Age – when the Great Ages were already well into the decline, women were highly respected and they wielded much power. It is not for nothing that Frigga holds the keys to the household: the woman of the house was responsible for overseeing all the household duties from spinning, weaving and making clothes, caring for the animals, preparing foods to feed them through the winter and of course, the welfare of the children. In richer families, slaves would assist her.
Marriage itself was a pragmatic affair based upon the union of family estates with the accumulation of wealth – especially in terms of land and animals – being of prime concern. Love – or even fondness for the partner – was often not a consideration, though it was regarded as a bonus if it did occur! Everything a woman brought to the marriage was her dowry: this often included a spinning wheel, linen, wool and a bed, the number of items and quality being dependant upon her family’s status. Everything she brought into the marriage remained as her’s and was passed down to her descendants. If her husband mistreated her, insulted her family, was a bad provider or lazy she could divorce him simply by calling witnesses and stating by the door and bedside that this was so!
Hence, it is only in recent times that marriage and having children has been seen as a romantic “happily ever after” ideal devoid of its structural basis in establishing material security for the folk community. The nuclear family was an integral part of the structure of the extended family and indeed, there are plenty of folk myths about the treatment of children by wicked uncles and suchlike that reflect this fact. Queens and ladies of high standing would have important responsibilities besides those of raising children; usually, they enlisted the assistance of a wet nurse and nannies to help care for their children. Foster care – particularly amongst those within the highest stratas of society – was commonplace and again, folktales (such as the Celtic Arthurian myth) show this practice to be common. Even today it is not uncommon for children of wealthy parents, diplomats and such to be sent to boarding school after being largely raised by nannies and other household members.
Of important note in the history of the nuclear family was the advent of Puritanism. Here, we start to see the subjugation of women based upon the desert creed myth of original sin and its ascription to Eve’s role in the Garden of Eden: this was used as the justifiable reason for the marginalisation of women in churches and hierarchical structures. And as already noted, the advent of industrialisation then saw a shift from work on the land to that of supporting industry with families migrating away from the farms and into cities. Transport and mobility saw the breakdown of the extended family into the now financially viable nuclear family. Partly for practical reasons – and also due to the desert creed poison – a woman’s role became confined to the shrinking sphere of homelife that by now (without a farmstead to care for), mainly revolved around raising the children. And increasingly, she was regarded as being her husband’s property. Hence, she was excluded from the male dominated realms of education and politics; if she was of a lower class and worked, her options were often confined to dreary workhouses and – in more desperate cases – prostitution. Over time, some important improvements in women’s lot were implemented through such as the Suffragette Movement; but it was – and in many ways still remains – a slow process.
However, with the advent of World War I and II, a large shift occurred. The atrocity of huge numbers of our menfolk being killed in two phony wars meant that women had to support their families through work and to take up jobs in munitions factories. So after WWII and with the necessary recovery and restructuring of society, there was a drive to have women return to the home – a move made all the more powerful through the technological innovation of television. Adverts of impeccably presented women teetering on heels happily using the latest kitchen gadgets whilst surrounded by contented husband and children became the icon of the fifties. Meanwhile, the great Hollywood propaganda machine relentlessly churned out images of beautiful heroines falling in love and living happily ever after with hubby and the children — the fiscally motivated romaticisation of the nuclear family model had begun in earnest, hitched to the relentless marketing of inculcated need for home gadgets – items that allegedly made our lives easier and more comfortable. In actuality, they have ensured continued revenue for the capitalist system through the ever-increasing technologisation of our lives and have insidiously contributed to family breakdown by destroying natural social interaction between family members.
The advent of the sixties however, brought further sweeping changes: flower-power drug culture and the birth control pill made the climate ripe for moral degeneration and the decline into a multicultural society, whilst reaping huge revenues for Big Pharma and allied corporations. Radical feminist ideals, so-called “gay rights” and other minority groups were actively promoted at the expense of the nuclear family. Single parent families, once regarded with a stigma attached, became more commonplace to the degree that single motherhood with no input from the father was actively encouraged. Now today, there is no standard for what constitutes “the family” to the extent that those such as Odinists trying to raise a cohesive family unit may well find themselves isolated in a sea of degeneracy that is wider society.
Since today’s parents have been raised in a period of history like no other, it is no surprise that confusion can arise: women now have access to education and no longer need a man to support them financially or, as in times past, to protect them from raging wild animals and to hunt for meat. They can enter many fields of work that were once the prerogative of men and in some career fields, they excel. For a number of women, interests outside of the roles of wife, mother and homemaker become their life focus whilst in today’s social climate, some may never meet a partner. Some choose to juggle work and homelife and still others choose to remain at home as full time mothers. Choice in the latter two areas is often affected by material circumstances: in Western society, nobody can survive without money. And until a full time parent is paid a proper living wage – as I firmly believe they should be – the fiscal question unfortunately has to be a priority. The point here is that because the founding principle of “the family” as the only viable financial unit has been removed, many questions that wouldn’t previously need to be considered arise.
In dissecting the nuclear family model from the extended family, an unreasonable strain is put upon just two adults. Consequently, they rarely get any time either to themselves or even together and in today’s society, it is often a recipe for intolerable stress. The rose coloured spectacles of the “happily ever after” scenario never address the reality – that many relationships fall apart after the children arrive in response to this unnatural strain. Why? Because the onus for childrearing was never meant to fall so heavily upon one couple: we were meant to be embedded within an extended family group. It is in this arena of life that other cultures and those living in rural areas and/or closer knit communities have preserved more of the natural way to raise children. Grandparents can “pick up the ball” of childcare whilst the parents rebond over a romantic dinner – perhaps even an early night to bed for once! There is time to regroup and re-energise, something that is apparently absent from the world of today’s parents. Effective time out with one’s spouse is a different dynamic from a day oriented around children; the former involves adult needs and healthy change from babytalk and the smaller world of a young child. This can only be of benefit to the adults and children alike: indeed, variation in social activity has been found to be a biologically measurable necessity for health and wellbeing.
Now obviously, not all nuclear families feel strain from the dynamics and it does of course, depend upon the specific situation and the individuals involved. But this pattern of couple’s separating once a family arrives is a phenomenon amongst our folk, which to a large degree, shows that the stand alone nuclear family is not entirely a natural situation; for Nature creates models that thrive. It also strengthens the case for extended family and folk communal support for parents so that they can continue to attend to their own personal health and wellbeing including space to nurture that sacred relationship which spawned the desire for children in the first place. Otherwise, just how effective are exhausted adults for themselves or their children?
Another point that needs to be borne in mind when considering the logistics of life in a nuclear family is this: women menstruate and it is naturally a time for resting and ritual, a time of greater vulnerability, permeability and a reduced ability to tolerate the grating “noise” and speed of daily life. Literally, the entire body and psyche function at a slower pace; but a woman’s perceptions deepen and it is potentially an immensely creative state of awareness to be in. But today’s society demands that she continue to function as if nothing was happening to her, which is difficult for many and even impossible for those women who suffer incapacitating PMS and menstrual cramps. No wonder we see more women than men burning out and crashing in the face of varying degrees of chronic fatigue syndrome. The menstrual huts of our female ancestors were originally wellsprings of recuperation for a woman, where she could retire and regroup for a few days whilst other community members took charge of the children. She could then return, vivified and more present for the needs of those she nurtured instead of suffering the depletion that so often reaches a head at the menopause, as we see today in the West. For it is interesting to realise that those women who live in more traditional societies – where the nuclear family is part of the extended family group – often experience fewer, if any, menopausal problems. Indeed, some have no words in their language to describe any “change of life” because there is no need! In a society where environmental toxins are also impacting our hormonal systems (which are vital to our personal and collective wellbeing), it is even more paramount that a woman can be allowed some downtime if she is to remain strong, healthy, powerful, fertile and present to those she cares for.
This weight of unnatural expectation resting upon the nuclear family model I believe has – at least indirectly – helped spawn a plethora of books on parenting, which actually seem to undermine the confidence of those in an already strained situation. What often follows seems to be a feeling of inadequacy because the parents feel they are failing to abide by the assessment of “professionals” and so risking little Charlie having all kinds of so-called psychological maladies- for which there is an ever increasing dictionary of labels. It seems that little Charlie cannot breathe without having a negative label applied and of course, each “problem” requires medication to fix it! Then little Charlie is assessed as a consequence, found to have ADD, ADHD or whatever and ends up on a slippery slope of apparent behavioural issues, many of which may well be medication induced in the first place and could at least be partially eliminated by good meals prepared from wholefoods grown on the family allotment. Of course, few families in suburbia have allotments or use their gardens to grow food! And meanwhile, the parents are made to feel guilty and inadequate and worryingly, can indeed face the horrifying prospect of their children being taken away by social workers. Obviously, this is yet another nail in the coffin towards a total nanny state that is devoid of any folkish awareness – a deliberate direction of course by the servants of the great Demiurge.
It is not uncommon nowadays for the woman to have an equal or greater earning capacity than the man and within an extended family situation, this would probably not be a source for too many questions. For those locked into the “traditional” mindset based upon more recent history, it can be something of a quandary to consider being a “house-husband.” Questions such as whether he will experience isolation in the role or whether the perceived threat to his role as the breadwinner will reduce the social respect accorded to him in some way may well arise. Now, it must be understood that whilst the traditional roles were very functionally based in times past, they are not always the most practical in today’s world. Remember, we Odinists strive to live as well as we can in the modern world, making of it the best we can with the limitations of wider society over which we have no control. If a woman has the greatest earning capacity; if the man is happy to be at home and if the children are well cared for, then it makes sound practical sense for the woman to work. Perhaps the arrangement can be tempered so that the lady is at home for most of the time with the children when they are tiny babies as doubtless, a mother’s nurturing in a baby’s earliest life is a vital elementary foundation that helps establish its entire infrastructure for life. The details of any such arrangement – whether it is practically feasible and a situation that both parents desire – will, of course, depend upon personal circumstances.
If one of the parents is going to be at home full time, then the question of isolation often arises, particularly if it is the man who plans on being the main caregiver. This point about isolation in the role ultimately depends upon the social situation one finds themselves in and the type of person they are more than mere gender considerations. For example, if a man is in a community where there are no other “house-husbands,” then he might expect to feel isolated and fear he would be regarded as odd or “unmanly” in some way. Yet he might well find the reality is that the women tend to offer him more support than they do other women in the same community. He will not have the expectation that he automatically knows what to do with babies by virtue of his gender – something which new mothers (and even women generally) often have unfairly foisted upon them. Contrary to such dictums, women don’t automatically know what to do with a baby: both men and women have to learn!
Suburbia however, may well be a totally different experience for a parent: it is not uncommon for housewives who live in what might be regarded as more upmarket suburban areas to feel very isolated. They do not have the social networks of support that often seem to exist within small communities where relatives and friends are often closer at hand or indeed, in less wealthy or council housing areas where a similar situation often prevails. Some of those in suburban dwellings experience great loneliness and strain from the sheer weight of responsibility of a family without communal support. Conversely, it must also be said that for any individual – regardless of their gender – who enjoys a lot of time alone (or who has little in common with others in the area), a profound sense of isolation could well prevail in a more communal setting. So such an individual might well relish the suburban situation. Therefore, any sense of isolation is less to do with the role and more to do with individual perception. However, as with other questions, it is another consideration for the couple embarking upon the role of parenthood before the children arrive.
A note should be made here about miscarriage. This is obviously a very distressing occurrence that no couple ever wants to experience – or to even think about unless it happens. However, to a certain degree, it is wise to prepare the right attitude of mind in advance and to have a perspective that prevents stasis should it be experienced. For all too often, couples become stuck in an unhealthy rut if it does happen. It might help to realise that miscarriage is not an unusual event and, particularly in the earlier stages of a pregnancy, a woman may not even be aware she has miscarried at all. Miscarriages are Nature’s way of ensuring a strong and healthy folk group with as few genetic abnormalities as possible. Always – whether in humans or animals – an integral part of that function is that some foetuses will not be brought to term. So the best solution if miscarriage occurs is (and after proper closure), not to dwell too much on it so as to minimise personal stress and trauma and to attend to the health of both the adults. With a well balanced nutritional plan, the osteopathic correction of any spinal lesions that might be compromising circulation to the pelvic organs, sufficient rest and minimal stress, the chances of successfully conceiving and bringing a healthy baby to full term can be increased quite dramatically. Indeed, physical and mental wellbeing is something would-be parents are well advised to attend to several months before attempting to conceive.
When a couple are contemplating the parental role, it is important to consider some of the messages and values they will teach their children. Now, many postulate the Nuclear Family with the traditional model of male/female roles as being the definitive model of family life and some folk will blindly interpret the model uncompromisingly within the narrowly defined band of proscriptive roles for men and women. These views will not only influence questions such as those already discussed, but they might well be overtly or covertly foisted onto the children. But in today’s world, such narrow interpretation can be dreadfully limiting; in some cases, it is as harmful to individuals as radical feminism has been, most especially to girls and young women. And ultimately, as with radical feminist views, the folk organism will suffer.
One resulting backlash of today’s social chaos is that some seeking to recover folkish ways have taken up a misguided “white power” approach in which it is perceived as the woman’s first and foremost duty is to have as many children as possible in order to repopulate the world with Aryan folk. No account is taken of any other skills or attributes she might possess that would also further the folk energies. Now, whilst this may be fine for some women, it most certainly is not an option for all. Whilst it can be said that most girls and women will want to have a family at some point in their lives, there are some for whom this feels an unnatural path. The so-called “maternal instinct” is not necessarily automatic and indeed, can vary with each child for an individual woman. It is important to also bear in mind that with the toxic environment in which we live, for some women, the decision not to have children could well be a subconscious instinctive knowing that their hormonal milieu cannot support a pregnancy. This too is Nature and essential to folk health! So to make a girl or woman feel inadequate or unnatural (even covertly via subconscious communication, behaviour etc.) for choosing to be child-free is a proscription that can put a stranglehold on her natural flowering and one that can insidiously thwart all other areas of endeavour for the rest of her life. Such a situation benefits no-one. Similarly, it is important for boys to grow up respecting all manifestations of the feminine energies and not expecting all women to automatically be mothers.
Ultimately, it is far better to have quality rather than quantity – as the numbers of children in foster care and residential ministries attests to.
It is perhaps worth remembering that in the ancient Vedic culture where a healthy, flexible caste system operated, those men and women – from whatever caste – who entered the priesthood often didn’t have children since the expression of their “reproductive energy” was required for a different strata of operation within the folk group. Indeed, for such people, having children would thwart their natural- and hence most powerful- expression of that energy, an energy, which was best used for other purposes in a role that was as essential to the folk organism as having children was. One only has to note that in Buddhism for instance, the Dalai Lama is born into an ordinary family and “found” by seers and sages; he does not have children because that is not his proper role nor the way in which he should be expressing the creative energy of his “procreative” energies in Midgarth. Closer to home, we only have to remember our great folk mother Else Christensen to appreciate the different ways in which the “procreative” energies can be used for the folk organism. Had she had children of her own, Else would not have had the time and energy required to blaze the glorious trail she did and so to do such incredible work for our folk.
Another point worthy of meditation is that in any religious or spiritual congregation, women who are unmarried and/or child-free are actually essential to the polar dynamics of the collective energy of the group. For at one level energetically speaking, they create the womb of nurturance for the group that would otherwise be spent in a nuclear family environment. This of course, is not their only energetic contribution; but there are different and complementary expressions of the polar energies, which we must learn to work with constructively. For if we are to progress as a folk organism, we must consciously and subconsciously acknowledge and respect all manifestations of the divine feminine, not just those of physical motherhood, and ensure our children know it too so they are free to express their own energies in ways that are most constructive, powerful and suited to them as folk individuals.
Whilst this article most certainly doesn’t begin to cover every eventuality or question that might arise, I hope that it has helped give folk some sort of vantage point from which to work when considering the difficult but vitally important and potentially very rewarding path of parenthood. In particular, it is hoped that in understanding the role of the nuclear family within the folk group, it will be easier for individuals to establish their personal guiding principles – principles that will nourish the folk soul and so benefit the entire folk organism.