The Saeculum Decoded
A Blog by Neil Howe
Oct 012009

This recent article in the New York Times by Alfie Kohn caught my eye. First let me say that I really don’t agree with this well-known progressive educator. His thesis (“unconditional parenting”) is that a parent should be equally approving of his/her child regardless of the child’s behavior. My opinion? Parents cannot act this way—unless they have a heart of stone and are utterly indifferent as to how the child grows up and who the child becomes. Most parents who *think* they raise their kids unconditionally simply try to repress their hopes and desires and hope their kids don’t notice how the parent really feels. But kids always notice.

That said, I do agree with an important observation Kohn makes early on. He says that explicitly behavioral/conditional parenting strategies are gaining in popularity. We have long made this prediction about Generation X (born 1961-1981) parenting—and have pointed out the emergence of it in other contexts. Gen-Xers care less about how perfect their kids really are on the inside (no Bill Bennett’sBook of Virtues” for them), but they care a lot more about whether their kids behave in ways and acquire habits that maximize their long-term odds of success.

The Homeland Generation is already gestating.

Note: The Homeland Generation (Born 2005-?), now entering pre-school, will include the babies born between now and the mid-2020s. Their always-on-guard nurturing style will be substantially set by Gen-x parents, legislators, and media producers, who are already gaining a reputation for extreme sheltering.

Sep 042009

After a huge amount of work, lasting more than a year (especially on the part of our workaholic whiz kid site designer, Jim Graham), I am delighted to  announce that we are now posting live a completely overhauled American Leadership Database.  At last, this is a resource that begins to live up to the vision we had for it when we posted the first version many year ago.

To see the entire Database, go here:  As before, this database contains records for nearly 15,000 American leaders: every Senator, Representative, Governor, President, Vice President, and Supreme Court Justice since 1789.

How does it differ from the feature we offered before?  As follows:

  • All of the tables and charts in the database are now dynamically generated.  This means that they automatically change when the underlying data are changed (due to updates with each new election or, from time to time, corrections to historical data).
  • The entry of new data (stored online) has now been great simplified.  This, combined with dynamic linking, makes updating the database much easier.  The current site is updated through the 2008 election.  Further updates will be quick and simple to perform.
  • We now provide a much greater variety of graphical representations of our data.  And these are more easily accessible through pull-down menus.
  • We provide more (non-dynamic) data on Revolutionary-era leadership (1765-1789).
  • Finally—and by far the most important in terms of blood, sweat, and tears—we now offer an interactive tool that allows users to define their own birth cohort or cohorts or their own Congress or Congresses and (if you like) filter by state or region.   The user then obtains a full analysis by Congress, by birth year, by party, by longevity, by average age of entry, etc.

I hope you explore this site a bit.  After I started trying out the beta version, I personally found I was addicted.  Any question you can imagine can be answered—from how many  New England leaders who reached age 18 during the Presidency of Andrew Jackson became Republicans:

To how many Representatives from the Pacific states born in 1901 to 1910 belonged to the Democratic Party.

Try out some custom queries on the user defined page and you will see what I mean.