In many ways Hugh and Jenny Schuman were typical Canadian parents. They both had steady white collar professions and worked as hard as they could to provide their children with everything they required. They had three children: Joseph, Kirk and Annette. Furthermore, the Schuman’s lived in a beautiful manicured home on the outskirts of Ottawa.
Hugh and Jenny both came from backgrounds that emphasized morality; Hugh came from a family with roots in the Social Gospel movement, while Jenny‘s family were non-religious liberal humanists who tended to work with NGO’s. Both Jenny and Hugh still felt some attraction to the high ideals of their families, but the experience of their lives had made them realize that a concern with these ideals would not ensure the stability of their careers and thus their family.
While in many ways the Schumans were typical, one thing that made Hugh and Jenny slightly peculiar was their model of parenting. For example, Hugh and Jenny encouraged their children to take minutes for all conversations that they had, so that they could prove that a certain conversation had transpired. Furthermore the children had to get sign off from their parents on a plan before they could build forts, play with Lego, or play dress – up. These plans had to speak to the purpose of the activity that the child was interested in pursuing.
The motivation that Hugh and Jenny had for this model of parenting was their concern for their children’s future. They believed that in order for their children to have stable careers they must learn to adapt to the norms of working life in the 21st century. In this world “litigiosity” is more important than religiosity and so rather than encouraging their children to learn about the religions of the world, they made sure that their children knew how to create documentation to prevent possible lawsuits. It was not important for their children to be aware of the teachings of Confucius, Christ, or Buddha; however, it was of paramount importance that the children learned to start covering their bases in their activities to avoid possible legal action by others.
Jenny and Hugh saw other parents as deeply irrational and inefficient in that they spent their time encouraging their children to read for the mere enjoyment of it, appreciate athletics and develop friendships with others. For Jenny and Hugh while this approach to parenting might encourage an attachment to literature, athletics and friends it would not help their children be effective in their careers when they reached adulthood, and consequently this approach was deeply misguided. For the Schumans, anyone who truly cared about their children would adopt their model of parenting, as it clearly ensured that the most important aspect of a child’s life, their future career, was taken care of.
Jenny and Hugh’s love for their children ran deep, and their model of parenting would ensure that their children were effective 21st century workers, and what more could any person want to be.