Not too many years ago, it seemed that there was a common understanding about parenting. Parents offered shelter, food, clothes and nurturing. Parents disciplined children as they saw fit, including corporal punishment at times. Parents guided their children along a path that would end up in their children doing a little better than them and to otherwise lead a lawful and productive life.
Not only did parents have a common understanding of their role, most youth also had a common understanding of their roles. Get an education, employment, marriage, children and a yearly vacation just like mom and dad.
Back in the day fathers were not terribly involved; a man of my Dad’s generation who changed diapers and bathed the babies would have been seen as very odd. Father’s primary roles were as the bread winner and the disciplinarian. Now fathers are involved in all aspects of childcare and in most households the work would not get done as so many mothers work outside the home.
Most parents no longer employ corporal punishment but instead reason with their children when disputes or difficulties arise.
Years ago, the traditional family was reinforced in the media and popular culture. The Walton’s, the Wonder Years and Happy Days were a few examples of the strengths of television shows with mom and dad squarely at the head of the family structure.
Today, few mainstream televisions shows or popular movies do much to support the traditional view of the family. So many examples of shows exist that undermine family unity, family values and family stability that it would be difficult to choose one, though many contemporary reality shows come to mind.
The media has helped to redefine youthful aspiration and what success is. Many young people today might feel very successful if a video they did went viral or they were on a reality show. These aspirations are a titanic departure from a success definition twenty or more years ago. While there is much light in the modern definition of family, there is also much darkness in my estimation.
Reach the writer at Hurlburt@wildblue.net.