50 years ago, it was obvious who was raising the children. Okay, so even 20 years ago, it was obvious. Moms were. The age-old family dynamic that seemed to follow the familial structure since antiquity has always been a matriarchal society. Men went out to hunt, work, or provide for their families, while the women stayed home and tended to the children and home. Both jobs were seen as important and both sides of the parenting fence were extremely well defined and respected. Today, not so much.
For a zillion reasons, the old-fashioned way of families doesn’t always work today. In many cases, it takes two parents, often working more than one job outside of the home – in order to pay the bills and simply afford to put food on the table. In millions of families, there is only ONE, parent that acts as both mother and father – who also has to work outside of the home. And sad statistics also show that there are hundreds of other family dynamics that leave children without parents at all, due to addictions or abuse far worse than many of us could even imagine, which has children fending for themselves or living in temporary arrangements that are anything but traditional family situations. This leaves us to ask, who is raising the children today?
Without placing blame, it is a question that each of us as a parent has to ask. If mom and dad are both working diligently outside of the home, then that means the children are being raised in daycares or with family members from a very young age. How difficult is it for moms and dads to instill their values and morals into a child, when they are not the one having the most influential role in their lives? Even more important, how is this new definition of family and raising children taking a toll on the children involved?
Perhaps one insight can be gained by comparing problems from 50 years ago to those of now. The American Family Institute which provides information to families intended to strengthen the family system did a study and came up with the following chart which gives a pretty frightening look at the struggles parents and schools are facing with children today.
Top Seven School Problems -1940:
- Talking out of turn
- Chewing gum
- Making noise
- Running in the halls
- Cutting in line
- Dress code violations
Top Seven School Problems -Today:
- Drug Abuse
- Alcohol abuse
(Courtesy of AmFam, Vol 2 Pg 5)
Reading this chart should make any parent stop and pay attention. It has to make any of us wonder, if the reason that children today are 500% more violent today than they were 50 years ago could have something to do with both how children are being raised today, and who is raising the children today?
Even if grandparents and trusted family members are in charge of the children, mom and dad have to realize that the arrangement puts a strain on both the kids and the grandparents. Many people say that if grandparents were meant to raise kids, older women wouldn’t go through things like menopause. Harsh as it may sound; grandparents deserve the right to be grandparents rather than parental figures. It is safe to say, that most grandparents DO NOT parent their grandchildren the way they did their own children. The same is true for other family members.
Other options to take care of and raise children include daycares and even nannies. With millions of children in daycare everyday, you have to wonder how much real love and attention they are getting in those very early, fundamental years. And, most daycares end their childrearing duties when a child hits the age of 12, which means that the majority of these kids become unattended latch key children. At least for a couple of hours every day. When you consider what they are doing and what they could be doing during those alone hours every day, it has to frighten the pants of any mom or dad. The question also arises whether or not these kids are being raised at all? Or are they raising themselves in a world where they have become nothing but a number, too quickly, and are forced to work from survival mode?
Is a nanny, who only has a short interaction with your child going to love and expect as much out of your child as you do? The bond between parent and child is one that revolves around protection, and often it is only parents who love their child in the unconditional, protective way that ensures they are indeed raised with expectations and values.
Again, the times have changed, and with that – so has the definition of parenting. It is also understood that in most situations the parents CANNOT HELP the fact that they have to spend so much time away from their kids. There is no blame to place, and parents should not feel bad or guilty for the choices that they have had to make in order to provide for their families. Yet, it still is worth thinking about.
Perhaps the saddest aspect is the fact that parenting is no longer seen as a noble profession. Today, saying you are a homemaker, or simply being a stay at home parent, is often looked down upon. Years ago, this was not the case. Parents were proud to stay home with their children and were happy simply being a parent. And yet the dictionary has not changed its definition of a parent. So why pray tell have we?
Sociologists think they have the answer. Up until the 1960’s adults were driven by living out their responsibilities in life. Then, during this tumultuous and questionable period in life, people began seeking to destroy institutionalized thinking in all facets of life. Rather than realize personal responsibility, young adults began to fight for personal freedoms. It was until this time that the family structure remained in take. After that point, couples began divorcing, women surged the work force and age-old ideals of marriage and family became separated at the seams. And now, we as a society are seeing the results and it is our children who are suffering the consequences.
Still, the children of today – although not raised, as children were 50 years ago, will adjust. Parents do as well. Yet as a parent, especially if you have to leave the bulk of the raising of your child to others, you should remain focused and diligent on being the most influential person in your child’s life. Make sure that despite the quantity of time you spend with your child, the quality of it is high. This doesn’t mean over indulgence or partaking in guilt-ridden experiences with your child to make up for your absence. What it does mean is being a parent and striving to constantly provide nurturing and guiding attention to your child and living up to YOUR parental responsibility, rather than your personal freedoms.