Tuesday, May 26, 2015

SFF and Parenting

This is, in part, an Agents of Shield reaction post to the Season 2 finale, "S.O.S. part 2." If you desire to be completely spoiler-free, you might wish to watch that first. That said, I don't intend to discuss Agents of SHIELD itself, it's more my own thoughts, influenced by the show, that build on my recent blogposts and other articles I've read and topics I want to write about.

Anne McCaffrey has a series of books about Talented people, telepaths, telekinetics, empaths, healers, etc. There's two major eras in the series. The first era is early in Talent history, with Get Off the UnicornTo Ride PegasusPegasus in Flight, and Pegasus in Space, as Talents are discovered, organized, and trained.



The second major era in McCaffrey's Talents series begins with The Rowan and goes on to her children (Damia) and grandchildren (Damia's Children). There's other books in the series, but that gets one started.

By the time of The Rowan, identification of Talent has been codified, classified, and organized. Often in these books, there's discussion of how Talented children need to be raised a particular way, in order to protect their Talents and have them used properly. It includes discussion about how some of the early people with Talents went rogue, and in some cases could not be redeemed, because of their background.

There are similarities to how the Inhumans in Agents of SHIELD controlled who was exposed to the teragenic crystals, but also differences.

Some fantasy books that include psychic phenomenon have the Gifts or Talents mature around adolescence, for most characters. The Inhumans seem to select their Teragenic subjects in adolescence or young adulthood.

McCaffrey's Talents take a different approach, they are born with at least some of their gifts, although they may strengthen with maturity. That's one of the reasons Talent needs to be raised in such particular ways, because the telepathic and/or empathic children would sense deception.

I read Anne McCaffrey's series in my own adolescence and young adulthood. At the time, the emphasis on raising Talents carefully struck me as odd or unusual. Years later, when I had my own child, I briefly joined the Mothering.com Forums.

I still need to write my post about the far side - where the edges meet, because the Mothering.com Forums had this mix of Quiverfull or Traditional, patriarchal families with liberal, feminist families, and everywhere in between.

One of the mothers on there made a comment that sticks with me, years later: "I'm not crunchy. I'm evidence-based." And that, I think, is what Anne McCaffrey was referring to, in her books on Talents.

During my M.A. studies, I had spent some time in the library reading articles on the parenting and child-rearing research, and I knew what that mother was saying. For example, in the 1980's, Star Trek: The Next Generation's Data discusses conflicting results on how to raise a child, particularly with regards to spanking. By the 21st century, the research has been clear: spanking does not benefit children.

There are millions of other decisions one makes as a parent, some with clear evidence and others with ambiguous results. I've linked to a few other parenting blogs (Momma, Ph.D. and Ph.D. in Parenting are two) on my sidebar, you're welcome to check them out.