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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.

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.

shapeType20lineWidtH32225lineColor13948116fShadow1shadowOffsetX0shadowOffset

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.



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