Tuesday, November 25, 2008

parental controls

As I continue my book about Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II and their family, it is striking how their story is not just about history or politics, but about parenting. If Henry had not tried to hold on so tightly to the reins of his vast realm, which included most of England and France, his family might not have rebelled against him. He chose to crown his son Hal in his lifetime, but only allowed callow Hal to be a king in name only. He tried to control Hal.

Eleanor used Henry's bad parenting choices as an excuse to urge his sons to rebel against him. She tried to control the disposition of her beloved Aquitaine. The rebellion and the family fell apart. Much later, when her favorite son Richard was king, she still tried to influence him, but Richard was less interested in Aquitaine or kingship and more interested in glory, crusades and adventure.

Every day I try to remind myself that I can't control my kid. I can only try to guide (even as I hear myself say "do this" or "don't do that!"

Our new president won't be able to control events, either. Life and politics are full of surprises. Luckily, he seems well equipped to guide, and not interested in control freak politics.


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