Evidence shows that good parenting is declining
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2012 00:10
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: “This is the worst generation ever.” I know it’s repetitive, but I can no longer ignore it while more and more empirical evidence continues to pile up.
The latest incriminating incident is a violent attack on a school teacher by a group of teenagers. Six teens were walking down Tito Way in Pittsburgh when Jim Addlespurger, a 50-year-old teacher at the Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts school (CAPA), entered the alley. One of the kids punched him, knocking him unconscious, then the boys continued to walk away laughing.
Maybe this case is extreme, but we have all been in line at the grocery store and immediately become uncomfortable when someone else’s children began misbehaving and causing trouble. While the two are not the same, the underlying problem is that kids are growing up with less discipline and more problems are arising from it than ever before.
Even in movies and TV the obedience of children has plummeted. Think back to the Brady Bunch, the perfect family where all the kids behaved and were respectful. Now you have TV shows like Modern Family, which, while funny, has almost every kid misbehaving in one way or another.
What caused this shift? There were several things that caused this dramatic shift, some good, some bad. According to Census data from 2009, both spouses were employed at least part time in 53.2 percent of married couples with children, compared with 33 percent in 1976. It becomes so much more difficult to discipline and instill values in your children if you have to work 40 hours a week. If both parents have to work, it becomes that much more difficult. This lack of a parent in this house gives children the opportunity to get used to misbehaving without consequences.
A possible cause for the amount of undisciplined children is the amount of teen pregnancies. The teen birth rate for girls age 15 to 19 is 31.3 per 1,000, according to a study done by thenationalcampaign.org, a campaign to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancies. Some young parents often head unstable households which could mean that their children have a bit more difficult time learning good manners and respect.
Another factor is the amount of single parent households. According to 2009 Census data there are about 13.7 million single parents in the United States. Of the mothers who are custodial parents, 45 percent are currently divorced or separated, 34.2 percent have never been married, 19 percent are married, and 1.7 percent were widowed, according to about.com, an all-encompassing news website. Obviously a single parent still has to provide income to support the household, meaning these children have even less time with their parents and possibly meaning less time to learn good behavior.
Even in families with both parents available and in the home, some kids are not being taught how to act properly. Some people simply don’t know how to parent, either because they didn’t have good parents to learn these skills from or because they never took the time to ask for help with child rearing.
Is there an easy solution to a proper way to raise children? No, probably not. The problem isn’t just the mother and it isn’t just the father. There is not just one group of people who are affected. Every race, gender and religion experiences children who are not raised properly. When a problem is so wide-spread it’s hard to know where to start trying to fix it.
There is no magic wand that can make this problem go away. Bringing awareness to poor parenting can help, though. It can also help for society to begin trying to help those parents and children in need as much as possible. The support we provide, however little, can make a huge impact.
Saúl Berríos-Thomas is a junior political science major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org