.. an apocalypse not. The 1950s and the 1990s are utterly and completely different. The 1950s was a post-war time, where utterly irreproducible affects kept mom at home. The 1990s is a technology laden information society, where media pries into corners and brings problems into greater light including violence, rape, birth control, and AIDS.
The amount of nuclear families decreased (Two 1), yet the cause for the dissolve of the family outweighs the difficulties, the equalization of women in the work force. No longer do mothers rely on the male’s income, they can survive on their own. Their ties of help flutter free and the American women becomes free since the American ideals put forth in the constitution. These new freedoms allow women to break free of confining and bad marriages and venture into traditionally male roles. Crime obviously is a challenge to modern politicians. The problem states itself clearly from the bold type adorning the front lines of newspapers nationwide.
Our difficulties are now. Yet when reviewing the past, the media is not constantly reminding us of it. The repetition of material does stick in our head, like the indelible pop song chasing around in our heads. The violence and abuse still existed, however in the 1950s mass media had not expanded to its current size. Modern statistics of rape, child abuse and other domestic problems are higher in part because of the lack of education on these societal ills. Today more cases are reported to authorities, thanks to education from this “evil” media.
Yes, these horrible problems were present, just hidden from the memories of modern naysayers. Demographics reveal that Americans grow up in increasingly diverse families. For a trend likely to continue in the future, and that according to some is a “irreversible historical fact the family diversity is here to stay,” (Schaffer 3) such attacks hurt diverse families and the children whose children face little ill effect from the contemporary upbringing. Many sociologists argue that “Family values campaigns put single parent families unjustly second-rate or best” (Schaffer 1). Using the same method for which they are so vehemently opposed (mass media), many conservative organizations crusade on behalf of the supposed superiority of married-couple nuclear families, brandishing all other kinds of families second-rate–or worse (Schaffer 1) Quality is much more important than gender structure, not whether a house contains a man, women, daughter, son, three goldfish, and a golden lab named Max. “However well intended and appealing, most of the claims made by family values crusaders are blatantly false as well as destructive” (Schaffer 1). A high conflict marriage is more damaging to a child than a divorce, yet these groups urge parents to stay together at all costs.
Results come from a Kaiser Permanete study show that sixty-eight percent of “youth highly exposed to safety threats lived in two parent homes” (Shaffer 2). If the youth was to be separated from such problems, then they have a better chance for success. This assault endangers kids by promoting parental conflict, destruction, and fraud (Schaffer 2). If the accusations were merited in hard data, then their rhetoric deserves much attention. However, right now, little evidence points either way.
The data they base their crusades on is inconclusive, as this sociologist said. As a sociologist, I can attest there is absolutely no consensus among social scientists on family values, on the superiority of the heterosexual nuclear family, or on the supposed evil effects of fatherlessness. The claim that intact two-parent families are inherently superior rests exclusively on the misuse of statistics and on the most elementary social science sins–portraying correlations as though there were causes, ignoring mediating factors, and treated small, overlapping differences as gross and absolute (Schaffer 2,3) A missing father is not the apocalypse some suggest. In a Kaiser study, 44 percent of troubled teens talk to their mother; 26 percent to fiends; and only 10 percent talk to their fathers. A missing person, while still possibly affecting the child, has not the raved impact (Schaffer 1).
“Poverty and unemployment can more reliably predict who will marry, divorce, or commit or suffer domestic or social violence than can the best toned measure of values yet devised” (Schaffer 3). Harping on the superiority of married biological parents and the evils of fatherlessness injures children and parents in a wide array of contemporary families, including those with gay or lesbian parents” (Schaffer 3). These parents wanting to go back to the 1950s hold these few gems of the 1950s coal heap in their hands and wish life could be like the epitomized dreams the memories have become. Absent from these gems is the nagging thought of the absence of minority and black rights, the constant fear of death, the inability of women to procure a job in male dominated jobs, and the previous pain of World War II and the great depression. Obviously the work environment changed. More women are in the workforce, both for the enjoyment of work and to support their kids.
Their types of jobs have changed as the previous barriers that kept them from contemporary male dominated jobs have been outlawed. Companies, due to increasing outside and inside pressure, have restructured the work environment for maximum profit, an action that is not inherently bad. Maximum profits also comes through employee loyalty and dedication, both of which take initiative on the employers part to provide the worker with a positive work environment. Most parents, unlike claims, do not escape into work from the family. In an Ohio Study 66% percent of respondents said that work is not a relief from family and 86% said they wanted to spend more time with the family.
77% of respondents were more “fulfilled at home” and 90% were happier. Obviously work is not a relief from family (U of C 1). The conditions of the 1990s are different not worse; reverting to the 1950s is an absurd misconception. The 1950s was never perfect, the only family that was perfect was the TV sitcom families, who existed only in Hollywood. If this is true, than they fall for the very same mistake they reprimand modern society for, ideals and TV. Despite everyday problems, the conditions that the average child has improved, not diminished.
The societal ills that might have resulted from the changes far outweigh the disadvantages. This action is possible but the steps required to reverse society to the 1950s sitcom would be infinitely huge. First, eliminate any sort of modern communications devices: a computer, fax machine, email, pager–items the advocates say cause the loss of innocence. Second, introduce the constant pressure of annihilation. Third, eliminate the gains in women’s rights and minority rights.
Fourth, eliminate the modern presence of the media that while can be harsh for many children does help bring forth ills and provide kids with education into adulthood. Those parents who keep their kids sanctioned from “the real world” face the difficulties of removing their kids from a radically different outside world. A few parents view that children should be kept free from the presence of any sort of harmful media. While they undoubtedly they feel that their child is protected from harm, these parents fail to realize the ills when they release an uneducated child into the world. For protecting against rape, and other crime, education is the biggest prevention. Educating children about these problems and the motives behind such actions does require overprotective parents to delve into the taboo field of sexual education.
The nostalgic say that children are unready for any sort of tribulation. Information desensitizes kids–no longer is right and wrong presented in either a smile or a spanking. Without clear direction and parental authority at home, these nostalgic parents warn that children will grow up to an adult who cannot tell right from wrong. The emerging books from authors like Shalit, who is not even a sociologist, inevitably harm children. “These books have a more insidious message: they equate innocence with ignorance” (Paul 62). A parent overly involving themselves in a child’s life is a poor choice, often leading to rebellious as the child tries to escape from the bounds placed on him or her.
Impacts do exist by removing a kid from outside resources. If a child is guided though interpretation of ‘adult’ knowledge the child will beready to handle the outside world. Often those like Wendy Shalit “mistake the acknowledgement of rape for its occurrence and chooses the illusory security of ignorance over the equivocal rewards of reality”. Women who reject innocence will “gain a field of vision free from the modern equivalents of powered puffs and parasols and downcast lashes” (Paul 65) Educated children fare better when released into the world: they have taken the first step. When a protected child is released into the outside world, they have not had the intellectual training to handle the problems adults must face. Plus, overprotective parents often have to deal with the rebellion of their kids, a quite ironic result when the child delves happily into the mayhem which the parents tried so hard to protect the child against.
The Medveds only allow six hours of G rated videos per week, the oldest child cannot read a book after 1960, and any sort of offending material is turned off. “Should the news come on during the family’s Sunday drives, the pound parents recount, ‘our children immediately beg us to turn off the radio,’ lest they hear something that ‘spoils ther contentment’ and when a haunting song from the soundtrack of showboat [plays], their daughters scream “fast forward! fast forward!” because they “wouldn’t even consider lyrics that predict sadness or trouble on the horizon'” (Paul 64). Lastly, knowledge will be with us; better get used to it. In the information age one cannot escape the barrage and why should they? As long as a parent is there to guide a child knowledge can be a wonderful thing. This essay does not downplay the importance of parents; they remain as essential as ever.
However to boldly say that society diminished is a opinion rooted in half forgotten memories. Today there is so much more for a child to learn and do, and every child has an equal chance to attain these goals. To revert back to the 1950s is a goal stemming from frustration of a generation of parents, a frustration that while often justified, is not solvable with a blind leap to an American culture as different as the 1850s to the 1900s. So let the action stop where most grandparents stop: “life was better when I was a child”. Undoubtedly today’s current generation will be saying the same thing too.
Bibliography Works Cited Boes “Convention on the Rights of the Child” America – America Child Rights Boes.org Gardner, Geroge E. The Emerging Personality: Infancy Through Adolescence New York: Delacorte Press, 1970. McCallum, Albert A. “Who Will Raise the Children” Prostitutes, Margarine, and Handguns. 15 Apr. 1999 Orwell, George. “A Child’s Life” A Collection of Essays.
Sand Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1946. Paul, Annie M. “The New Age on innocence.” Psychology Today. April 1999: 62-66 Schaffer, Scott. “Bad Review: The War Against Parents” Rev. of The War Against Parents by Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Cornel Stacey, Judith.
“The Father Fixation” In the Name of the Family: Rethinking Family Values in a Postmodern Age 5 May 1999 Raasch, Brian. Personal Interview. 14 Apr. 1998 West. 1 Nov.
1998 Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life. 13 Apr. 1999 UCSF “The California Work and Health Survey – 1998 Story #2: The State of Working Parents in California Graphic Summary for Publication September 8, 1998.” 8 Sept. 1998 University of California at San Fransisco. 12 Apr. 1998 U of C “May 8, 1998 Release From the Survey of Ohio’s Working Families: New Family and Work Survey at University of Cincinnati Fund Family is Where the Heart is.” University of Cincinnati/The Kunz Center for the Study of Work and Family 9 Apr.
1998 White, Burton L. The First Years of Life. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1975. shapeType20lineWidth22225lineColor13948116fShadow1 shadowOffsetX0shadowOffset Y-12700shadowOriginY32385 Bibliography Boes “Convention on the Rights of the Child” America – America Child Rights Boes.org Cullen, Loanda “Confronting the Myths of Single Parenting” Single Parenting in the Nineties 15 Apr. 1998. Champion Press.
9 April 1999 Gardner, Geroge E. The Emerging Personality: Infancy Through Adolescence New York: Delacorte Press, 1970. Gesell, Arnold, Frances L. Ilg, and Louise Bates Ames. Infant and Child in the Culture of Today: The Guidance of Development in Home and Nursery School.
1943. New York: Harper and Row, 1974. McCallum, Albert A. “Who Will Raise the Children” Prostitutes, Margarine, and Handguns. 15 Apr. 1999 Orwell, George.
“A Child’s Life” A Collection of Essays. Sand Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1946. Paul, Annie M. “The New Age on innocence.” Psychology Today. April 1999: 62-66 Piaget, Jean. The Child and Reality: Problems of Genetic Psychology.
New york: Grossman Publishers, 1973 Schaffer, Scott. “Bad Review: The War Against Parents” Rev. of The War Against Parents by Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Cornel Stacey, Judith. “The Father Fixation” In the Name of the Family: Rethinking Family Values in a Postmodern Age 5 May 1999 Raasch, Brian. Personal Interview. 14 Apr. 1998 “Two Parent Families by Ethnic Group: 1994 US Census Data” University of Virginia.
5 May 1999 West. 1 Nov. 1998 Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life. 13 Apr. 1999 UCSF “The California Work and Health Survey – 1998 Story #2: The State of Working Parents in California Graphic Summary for Publication September 8, 1998.” 8 Sept. 1998 University of California at San Fransisco.
12 Apr. 1998 U of C “May 8, 1998 Release From the Survey of Ohio’s Working Families: New Family and Work Survey at University of Cincinnati Fund Family is Where the Heart is.” University of Cincinnati/The Kunz Center for the Study of Work and Family 9 Apr. 1998 White, Burton L. The First Years of Life. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1975. Social Issues.