Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

Abraham Lincoln is generally credited with the saying, "A house divided against itself cannot stand". However, like so many quotes from opportunistic politicians down through the years, this quote actually has its origins in the Bible. The actual quote from the book of Matthew 12:25 is..."And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand". Just like politicians today, Mr. Lincoln was playing on the emotions of the voting public. He was an opportunist reaching out to those religious voters that wanted to either stamp out the blight of slavery or those who had no desire to see this country torn apart. The context of what he was quoting from the Bible was absolutely perfect for his subject matter; and yet, where did that get him?!? He lost that particular election and then later on after winning a couple of presidential elections he ended up with a bullet in the back of his head. Still one can argue that he did great things during his time in The White House and was one of our most effective presidents. He was the great emancipator after all; and he was instrumental in preserving the union. Without his foresight and determination, many things in our country's history may have taken much much longer to finally come to pass.
What prompted me to write all of this "A house divided against itself" nonsense?!? Well, first of all, I like to think that it's not actually nonsense. Maybe I'm doing a Jedi mind trick on myself?!?
No there's a reason why.
A couple of days ago a good friend of mine came to me for some advice. It seems that her husband of eight years and her 21 year old son were beefing. She said that she was afraid that it was impossible for two grown men to live in the same house. Her husband and her son had different ideas as to her son's role in their household. The son felt that since that was his home, that he should be able to live there rent free and come and go as he pleased. His stepfather saw it differently and suggested that if he had his own place, he could do what he pleased there. A couple of days later, the son moved out and confronted his mother on his way out. He told her that at some point she'd have to choose between him and her husband. Regardless, he told her that he wouldn't darken her door again, until her husband was gone.
She told me that she said nothing to her son and basically just watched him leave. She asked me what I thought about this situation since we're of the same age and we've discussed familial relations a few times in the past. I offered her my heartfelt advice. Do you know of a situation like this?!? What would you have told her?!?


  1. That is like Baby Boy, Never had that happen and really don't want nothing like that to happen. Come to think about, that Lincoln quote is something that we as Americans; gender, race, or political beliefs; need to hinder in our mind. Good post Reggie.

  2. This is a hard one.... because I am seeing parallels between this and my own family story. I was not living with my father when he remarried, but my sister was. She paid rent, paid the cable bill, took care of the dogs, helped clean the house, and his wife wanted her OUT. She claimed that she "needed her privacy". Then, after my grandmother passed away (she lived upstairs in a 2 bedroom apartment), everyone assumed that my sister would move into my grandmother's apartment, but my Dad's wife was not having that either. So, my sister had to move into the basement of a family she didn't know.

    Step parents can be a problem. I know in my family, it seems as if my father is choosing his wife over his children, but he sees it as totally normal. And he accepts his wife's criticism of his children but shuts down anyone who dares to challenge her.

    As for Lincoln, I used to think he was a great man, a true freedom fighter, but I have realized over the years that the things he did were done out of political expediency, not out of some fine moral character. He had no desire to see true freedom and equality, in fact, I believe he made a statement about how if he could preserve the union without freeing a single slave, he would do it. He was a politician, not a hero.

  3. Thank you Smoking Ace...

    You know what, I guess that is the basic plot for Baby Boy. I really didn't think about that while I was writing this. I had a ready response and I didn't have to think about an answer for my friend; because this has happened in my family a couple of times too. I have a cousin that lives in Detroit who went through this with her two sons, aged 21 and 19. The difference there was that her boyfriend wasn't involved in that one, she put those two lazy mofos out. I also saw this happen with my son's godmother. She had two lazy monsters...her new husband put those two out. This type of thing happens. Sometimes young men need to grow up....and they need to grow up quickly. In all the instances I've ever seen, the young man goes out and ends up in his own place before long.

    Baby Boy or not, it is what it is.

  4. I'm familiar with the statement that you're speaking to in reference to President Lincoln Joanna.....and yes, you're right. Whenever I think of him, it's one of the very first things that I think of. As a matter of fact, I've used that quote before and explained the rhyme and reason and ended up getting into at least a couple of serious arguments over the years. It's taken from a letter that he wrote to Horace Greeley, that if I'm not mistaken can now be found in the Library of Congress....

    Executive Mansion,
    Washington, August 22, 1862.

    Hon. Horace Greeley:
    Dear Sir.

    I have just read yours of the 19th. addressed to myself through the New-York Tribune. If there be in it any statements, or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptable in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.

    As to the policy I "seem to be pursuing" as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.

    I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

    I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.

    A. Lincoln.

  5. My (adult) younger brother stayed with me after a stint in jail.
    But I had rules.
    "I'm grown", he said.
    "Then get your own house", I replied.
    He STFU and followed my rules until he got out on his own.

  6. When I first got out of school, my Mom had two rules... which of course I thought were ridiculous for a 20 year old, but looking back and can appreciate them:
    1) You had to be home to have dinner with the family.
    2) I had to be home by 1 am OR let her know that I was NOT coming home, so she could get some sleep without waking up and panicking when I was not there.

  7. John why is it so hard for some people to have that conversation and mean it?!?

    I'm sure that after that your brother respected and understood you. Sometimes life requires that we have serious focused conversations. It is what it is.

  8. Joanna my mother had similar rules when I went to visit her when I was in college. I say I was visiting, because I left after high school and only went back to "visit", never more than three days in a row.

    My mother had rules and I respected them. If my mother comes to visit me now; I've got rules and if she doesn't respect them, I'll politely ask her to leave.

  9. When do we demand that our children growup?
    Many like your topic are simply spoil brats who were given everything they wanted throughout their lives.
    Stepfather or boyfriend was right,to tell the young man to growup and be a man.

  10. I agree with the Step Father. The kid's 21 !! Pay his way, or get the hell out !

    Hell, that's what happened to ME at age 18 !

  11. I am starting to realize that Italian families (especially the mothers) seem to spoil the kids to a degree. We have to follow rules, yes, BUT, most Italian families do not expect (or want) their kids to move out of the house until they are married, whether that be a 20 years old or 40 years old! Which is why so many Italian's are "Mamma's Boys" and "Daddy's Girls" I guess, LOL. So, almost HALF the kids I went to school with stayed with their parents until they took the walk down the aisle. Now, the other half were Jewish kids, and most (not all) of their parents had the philosophy of "once you leave, you don't come back" meaning, after college you are on your own! And oh yeah, with Italians, once you do get married, you are encouraged to get a house on the same block as the rest of your family! LOL

  12. I'd tell her that her son is a grown ass man and should've been out of the house since he turned 18. Fuck that shit. There's no way I'd leave my husband just because my son threw a damn temper tantrum.

  13. Mac my father had house rules when I was growing up that seemed silly to me at the time; when the reality is that those rules helped to make me the man that I am today.

  14. Heff my father has been deceased for about 17 years now; but one of the fondest memories that I have about him, I think about often.

    My father told me that when he turned 18 years old his father gave him luggage. My father said that he remembered being disappointed since he was the oldest and he was turning 18. He figured that his 18th birthday was a milestone and that he should at least be getting a car or something. When he asked my grandfather about the gift, my grandfather laughed and smiled and said, "I gave you the luggage because now you're a man and at the end of the school year you'll be going somewhere. I don't care if it's the army or to college, but you're going somewhere when the school year is over, so you need your luggage."

    Needless to say, when my brother and sister and I all turned 18; we all got luggage for our birthdays. Honestly, I was expecting my luggage. I just hoped that it wasn't as quite as ugly as the luggage my brother got. When I got my luggage I smiled and thanked my father for it.

    .....when my son and daughter got theirs, they did the same.

  15. Reg,too many parents coddle and baby their grown children in todays world.
    By the time I was 18 I had my own place and car,purchase with money I earn washing dishes in a local hotel at $1.00 an hour.

  16. Joanna I haven't lived around my family since I graduated from college. Right after I graduated, I moved to the New Orleans area and although I did have distant relatives there, I didn't know them and I never saw them once while I was there. I then moved to New Jersey, where I had no family at all. Now I live in South Carolina and I've never had family here either.....until a week ago when one of my first cousins moved within ten miles of me. That's the closest relative that I've had living near me since the 1980s.

    I sure as hell wouldn't want to live in the same house or even down the street from most of my relatives. I can't imagine anyone consciously doing something like that.

  17. Tha L that's what I was thinking too. It's a goddamned shame that he's still living at home anyway. He always was the kid that had no direction; where his older and younger brother both have their heads screwed on right.

    This was bound to happen one day.

  18. Mac I'm gonna hope that the $1.00 an hour was a typo, but I know where you're coming from. When I was 18 I was in college and I lived with an uncle of mine for a year or two when I was in college. We didn't have any issues, it was his house and I respected that.

    I worked throughout the time that I was in his house...and thereafter as well. If you don't work, how can you eat?!? How can you take care of the little things?!? How can you look yourself in the mirror when you're going to another man for money?!?

    How in the hell is a young man expected to ascend into manhood if he's treated like a boy?!!?

  19. Not a typo at all Reggie,remember we are talking about the year 1968.
    Yea I don't like to tell them old stories about "back in the day",but I'm beginning to believe they might be helpful in getting younger people to understand they need to do better!

  20. Mac when I was 18 I was making $3.35 an hour and it didn't feel like any money at all. Oh I was grateful to be making it, but I realized then how little I was paid for my efforts.

    Although you're a little older than me, we see this situation the same.

    It is what it is.

  21. It's tragic and sad.....and so much other shit.

  22. The Stepfather was right on the money and the wife was right by standing by her man. Let me explain in the words of Smoky from Friday's....

    "You ain't put in on this man!"

    21 and still living at home not doing shit? If he was paying something, buying toilet paper, koolaide something, then he might have a legitimate argument. And how the hell is it "his house" when he ain't doing nothing but sleeping and eating there? On a bed he did not buy and food he did not pay for?

    As for your Abe Lincoln quote... That man sho could write, huh? But I agree with one of the other commenters that said that he was just a politician. Abe was just like every other white man that lived during that time. He thought Whites were superior and in fact he was quoted as saying that as long as Blacks and Whites shared the same space, there would be conflict. He was in fact planning on sending all the freed slaves to Liberia, but he got his cap peeled before he could implement it. And yes he freed the slaves, but freed them to what? They could not write, read and they did not own shit. They went to one form of slavery to another. And even though I detest any Black person that still uses slavery as an excuse to act Niggerish, I have to say that the effects of slavery and being treated as fourth citizens are still being felt today. I do agree that he was a great President though. Even though he DID not have the best interests of the slaves on his mind, he still signed the paper that made it illegal for us to be on the shelves at your local Wal-mart.

  23. Dirty Red that's how I look at it as well. I don't care that he wasn't a perfect man, I just care that he implemented and signed the document. I don't even care why or under what circumstances, ultimately it just doesn't matter.

    The man that's thirsty needs water, he doesn't need an explanation as to why he got the water he got.

    No Lincoln wasn't the only one.

    General Ulysses Grant was quoted as saying "I was never an abolitionist, not even what could be called anti-slavery, but I try to judge fairly and honestly and it became patent in my mind early in the rebellion that the North and South could never be at peace with each other except as one nation, and that without slavery. As anxious as I am to see peace established, I would not therefore be willing to see any settlement until the question is forever settled."

    General Grant in a letter to Elihu Washburne, Aug. 30, 1863.

    He also said something to the effect that if he thought that the war was about freeing slaves rather than preserving the union, that he'd resign his commission and join the other side.

    William T. Sherman once said "slavery is the natural status for the negro".

    ...and these two were on our side.

  24. my father's second wife and my brother never got along...mostly because my brother was/is spoiled... he has never had to work for anything in his life... everything has been handed to him... because he "IS A BOY"... and i got the short end of the stick every time because i was born a girl.

    my father and mother will tell you that they loved us the same... and treated us as equals... but that was NEVER the case.... i dont deny that they loved me... because they DO, VERY much, im just stating the facts.

    he got more freedom, less responsibility and MORE rewards for less work... its still that way with him... he is 34... he has always lived at home or with my grandfather... my dad still pays his insurance and bought the vehicle he drives around... he also puts gas in it.

    my brother has never even had a real job, although he has worked occasionally with my father and for a few other friends of the family, but never at any length.

    when he started to make trouble for my father in his new relationship... my dad put up with it for a long time, as did his new gf... but eventually it got old, and my father told him to hit the road.

    so... my brother moved in with my grandparents RIGHT NEXT DOOR lol... and then THEY were upset with my father for choosing THAT WOMAN over his OWN son.

    sometimes its a catch 22... its a complicated situation and im certainly glad ive never been put in that position... when julius and i were dating, it was my son who made me realize what a wonderful man i had... he was about 8... and he looked at me after julius left one evening and said "mom... i wish HE was my dad!"

    i wish your friend luck... it must weigh very heavily on her.

  25. Each time I've seen her since our conversation Michelle, she's actually looked beaten down.

    Love can be a slippery slope. Sometimes we think that love means support, when love actually means understanding and compromise. This situation that she's going through is a common occurence in many families...black, white, brown, yellow....red or whatever the hell else there is.

    This situation knows no race. It is the reality of human relationships that draws the fire that she's burning in.

    It is what it is.

  26. I kept wondering why the son said that. Is the mom in a situation where the husband is abusive?

    Interesting post, Reggie. I like the illustration of Lincoln as Jedi. Yes, the quote is from the Bible. Unlike today's politicians, however, Lincoln probably read the Bible more than once and so was speaking what he believed, not just what gets nods from the crowd. And it is a great line. :-)

  27. No, not at all, her husband is a good man. He has been a good stepfather to her three sons for about a decade now. Her sons had a great relationship with him. As good as a relationship could be between a man and three boys that weren't his own. He was always good to them and has always been good to her.

    I don't believe that Lincoln was a religious man. After reading a lot of material about him, I get a sense that he wasn't particularly religious and that like many politicians, that he played the "God" card. You know, just like these clowns we've got today.

    Lincoln largely educated himself, so I would believe that he would have had to read the Bible at least a couple of times....just like I have, I suppose. From what I've read, his family was extremely religious, but he never joined a church himself.

    He wouldn't be the first man to run for office and find it expedient to pick up a Bible and praise God in public. Look at that last idiot we had as president.

    But you're right, it's a great line and he's not the first politician to have used it or the last; but his is the one that we all seem to remember.

  28. Absent some sort of abuse of the mother by the stepfather or legitimate inability of the son to take care of himself which the stepfather is ignoring, the son is wrong to try to come between his mother and her husband. At 21 he should be out and about on his own.

    I don't know about rent and all that but every family is different. Some have rules which are designed to be just annoying enough to encourage adult children to leave. Others don't allow adult children to return. Some have no problem with it and others demand rent or assistance with household chores/bills. Generally speaking I think each household can only have one man in it. I don't know if this is also true for women...

  29. "Generally speaking I think each household can only have one man in it. I don't know if this is also true for women..."

    It depends on the women involved. As I mentioned earlier, a lot of Italian families tend to live with several generations is close proximity (in the same house or on the same block) without an issue. My parents lived in a house with my Grandmother (she had an apartment upstairs) for over 20 years, and everything was great. Even my father's evil new wife got along with Grandma, because she knew she HAD TO. But my adult sister was also living in the house, paying rent, paying bills, helping with the cleaning, etc. and my father's wife decided she just didn't want her around anymore! So, my father kicked her out, and would not even allow her to rent out the apartment upstairs (which is totally seperate) Of course, that has a lot to do with the fact that my sister's and I all see my father's wife for the evil bitch she is. I am sure if it was HER daughter who wanted to live there, or rent the apartment, she would have had NO PROBLEM with it.

  30. Shady Grady I've heard many women say that there is no way for two women to live in the same house. I honestly don't know about that one.

    When my soon to be 21 year old son is home from school, he keeps to himself. He has always respected my house rules and I really couldn't imagine a situation where that wouldn't be the case.

    I made sure that my children were aware that I expected them to stand on their own feet. I've never asked my children for RENT money and I don't believe that I ever would. I think that if you establish the right expectations that these issues just don't occur. Of course, they are MY children biologically and I'm not in a situation where someone else's children are involved. That's gotta be a tough one; whether you helped to raise them when they were younger or not.

  31. Joanna in the country "so to speak", it's not uncommon to see a few generations of people of color living together. I think that's a respect thing and today's generations aren't of that particular mindset.

    I don't have issues with my children......and I won't.

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