Where have all the parents gone?

Topics: Family, Marriage, Parent Pages: 6 (1671 words) Published: December 1, 2003
Where have all the parents gone?

It is 3am in the morning when a police officer spots a group of juveniles in a public park. The police officer and his partner approach the juveniles and find that they have been drinking. When the officers begin to question the fifteen year old, he replies with obscenities and spits at them. Rather then taking the juveniles down to the station, the officer decides to phone the juvenile's parents to make them aware of where they are and what they are doing. To the officer's surprise when the mother of the juvenile answers the phone, her reply is, "Oh, they're just out having fun and I have to work tomorrow, Can't you just drive them home?" What is most disturbing about this story is that this is a common event; this story is based on an actual event as evidenced by netcops.com. Why are today's children not being taught basic manners, and the difference between right and wrong? Where have all the parents gone? In order to answer these questions it is necessary to explore the history of the American Family.

In the 1950's there were established norms for the way people lived and behaved towards one another. To deviate from the norms would result in much embarrassment and humiliation, any person deviating from the norms could be stigmatized. Saving face in front of society was absolutely essential in the 1950s. "The idealized family was composed of a home-maker wife, a breadwinner-father, and two or more children (Bianchi 14)." It was the norm for a mother to be up and running at the crack of dawn, preparing her children's breakfast and making sure her children's dress was clean and crisply ironed so that he or she could look good and be prepared for school. The families of the 1950's were very concerned at how their parenting skills were seen by others. Parents instilled manners and respect in their children from birth, the use of "yes ma'am" and "No ma'am" was the norm and to address an adult or someone in a position of authority with anything other than Mr., Miss or Mrs. was unthinkable. The parents of the 1950's understood the institution of family; they understood and accepted the responsibility of nurturing their children with good principles.

In the 1960's things began to change, with the civil rights movement and women's liberation movement more women began to join the work force. More women began to focus on their education and their careers. Children began to be left with relatives or day care centers while both parents worked, and less attention was being given to their upbringing. Over the years there has been a significant increase in the number of children in daycare. "In 1965, just 7 percent of preschoolers of employed mothers were in center care as their primary arrangement; by 1994, 29 percent were in center care (Bianchi 35)." With the women's role expanding outside of the home, social norms began to change. Society began to become more accepting of "divorce, cohabitation, and sex outside of marriage; less sure about the universality and permanence of marriage; and more tolerant of blurred gender roles and of mother's working outside the home (Bianchi 16)." Social degradation had begun, no longer was it a social faux pas to miss the PTA meeting or Sunday church. With the acceptance of cohabitation there slowly came an acceptance to children being born out of wedlock. These actions would have been thought absolutely disgraceful in the 1950's. With the absence of a full time parental figure in the home and more focus being placed on career and financial importance less time was given to the basics of parenting, to the teaching of morals and respect for others.

Over time as the economy changed more women began to join the work force. With industry shifting from manufacturing to services, a decline in wages followed, most especially for those with little to no education. The economy and the jobs available to unskilled men were no longer enough to support an entire...
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