PARENTING TODAY IS HARDER THAT IT WAS 40 YEAR AGO 1
Parenting today isharder that it was 40 years ago
Parenting has become a complicated and often exhausting endeavor.With the advent of the internet and mass media, robust food industry,and the surge in the cost of raising a child, parenting is hardertoday that it was in the 1970s. According to a study by the PewResearch Center, 70% of Americans believe that parenting is toughernowadays than it was 40 years later. Today, parents have toconstantly monitor their children`s whereabouts to guard the latteragainst the internet, peer pressure, alcohol and drug abuse and theoften unregulated food industry that is threatening to make everyoneeither obese or overweight. To make things worse, the surging costof living and the feminist awakening witnessed across the globe hastriggered women to join men in the labor force. This means thatparents have very little time to bond or even discipline theirchildren. For these reasons, this paper maintains that parenting ismore challenging nowadays that it was 40 years ago.
There is a common belief among most Americans that today’s parentare not living up to the standards set by their predecessors. Therationale behind this point of view is that modern parents do nothave time for their families as they are concerned about providingthe basic needs as opposed to addressing the emotional problemsfacing their children. In most families, both the mother and thefather spend much of their time in the workplaces as compared to 40years ago where most women did nothing else but care for theirchildren. Besides, in the 1970s the urbanization was not asprevalent as is the case today. Thus, most children were lucky tohave their cousins, uncle, and grandparents in the vicinity. As such,even when the parents were not present other family members couldstep in and ensure the safety of the children. Since the 1970s, thesociety has changed much in terms of the disappearance of theextended family and a sense of togetherness as a whole. The samecommunity that the 1970s parents relied upon to help them raise theirchildren has turned against their modern counterparts. According tothe Pew Research Center, 38% of American parents view societalfactors as the greatest challenge when it comes to raising childrennowadays. Some of the societal factors that modern parents areconcerned about include the impact of the mass media and internet,drug and alcohol abuse, and peer pressure.
In the 1970s, the only source of entertainment available to childrenwas each other. Today, children spend a substantial amount of theirtime watching the television or on their phones, iPads, or iPods.Apart from having to incur the cost of buying these gadgets, modernparents have to be more vigilant on the whereabouts of their childrenwhen they are not at home. According to Torress, "in the 1970s,playing outside was normal, but today this is prohibited.” Today,if one sees children playing alone in the park without a grown up inthe vicinity, this may amount to a case of negligence on the part ofthe parents. 40 years ago, children would play outside untildarkness sets in. During this period, the rate of crime was low.Nowadays, even when parents have visitors, children are sent to watchTV or stay in their rooms. According to Wallace, “it seems likeparents these days are more uptight and paranoid over every detail ofthe lives of their children much more than they were 40 years ago. Wallace adds that the difference between parenting in the 1970s andtoday is the less freedom and more schedules on the part of children.Nowadays, parents have to worry about how to keep their childrenbusy. On the other hand, in the 1970s, children would visit theirfriends or play by themselves as opposed to today where parents havetaken up the role of entertaining their sons and daughters.
Today, parents have to continually guard their children against theconsumerism culture propagated by the modern consumer-centric life. On the other hand, 40 years ago, parents did not have to worry aboutwhat their children ate. There were no terms such as gluten-free,dairy-free, GMO-free, and sugar-free(Torres). Up until the 1970s, there still existed anunbelievable diversity of organic farms that used minimal pesticides.During those days, the products coming from the farms had the propernutrient content. On the other hand, today`s children eat cannedproducts. The modern food technology introduced an approach toensuring that food products have extended shelf life and this saw theintroduction of preservatives which are mostly chemicals. Since the1980s, the artificial sweeteners and emulsifiers have slowly replacedthe full-fat in dairy products in the food industry (Torres). Wheatis the most consumed grain globally. Up until the 1970s, it was grownartificially with minimal pesticide and fungicides. However, thecommercialization of agribusiness saw the development of geneticallymodified varieties of wheat that grows faster and give high yields.Modern parents profoundly bear the detrimental effects of the changeswitnessed in the entire food industry. Today, a large proportion ofchildren are either obese or overweight, and parents have to caterfor the health complications that come with this condition(Torres).
The infiltration of the internet and the mass media has made modernparenthood even harder. The proliferation of social networking siteshas enabled teens and adolescent to enhance their technical skills,communications, and social connections. A recent study has revealedthat 2% of all teenagers use their favorite social networking sitesat least ten times a day (O`Keeffe& Clarke-Pearson, 2). Currently, 72% of teenagersown phones, and 25% use these devices to socialize via the varioussocial media platforms (801). These gadgets pose huge risks tochildren, which include cyber bullying, sexual exploitation, andinternet addiction. The number of tech-savvy parents has increasedsteadily over the years. However, up to now, a large proportion ofparents are still not conversant with the social media communications(O`Keeffe & Clarke-Pearson, 2). Today, the young generationprefers communicating through text messages or via social media asopposed to holding face-to-face communications. The problem with thisis that children face increased risk of negative peer pressure. Thisis because most modern children turn to their online friends andacquaintances when they have any issue bothering them. In most cases,parents only come to realize that their children have problems whenit is too late, for example, when the later have already beenaddicted to drugs.
Apart fromposing dangers such as cyber bullying, pornography, and violence tochildren, the internet is both a blessing and a curse to modernparents. On the positive side, through Google, a parent can diagnosea child’s problem before visiting the doctor, particularly whenimmediate action is needed. Besides, on the internet, there are manysupport groups for parents who come together to share theirexperience with the goal of making parenthood easier(Chrissy).These support groups are particularly vital for parents with disabledchildren. On the negative side, the internet is the worst nightmarefor modern parents. For example, it is usually awash with articleswarning parents against doing all manners of things to theirchildren, such as letting the latter eat gluten or inorganic foods.While this may be beneficial, these messages tend to make the modernparents feel inadequate and horrified that they are not doing enoughto help their children (Chrissy).
In the 1970s, there was no constant promotion of sex, drugs, andviolence on the television. Today, TV, commercials, films and showsare usually awash with sexual content and violence that is leadingmodern children astray.O`Keeffe and Clarke-Pearson report that by the time achild is18-years-old, he/she is likely to have witnessed about100,000 acts of violence on the television. O`Keeffe& Clarke-Pearson add that “32% of children aged8-18 years have television sets in their bedrooms” (3). Researchshows that music video and television viewing is closely related toalcohol and drug abuse among the teens. Besides, a two-yearlongitudinal study revealed a close relationship between sexualcontent on the media and the onset of sexual activity among teens(O`Keeffe &Clarke-Pearson, 3). As such, modern parents have todeal with the fact that a large proportion of the teens are sexuallyactive and are likely to be using drugs. Thus, modern parents haveto monitor what their children watch on the TV constantly. However,this does not help much because parents are rarely at home. Besides,with the proliferation of internet-enabled devices, children canstill access violent and sexually explicit content via the web. Thesurge in the number of violent content in the mass media has haddevastating effects on children. For instance, over the recent past,there has been a surge in the number of school violence perpetratedby students against their school mates.
With the advent of children’s right, it has become extremelydifficult for today’s parents to effectively disciples theirchildren. During the 1970s, it was acceptable for parents to spanktheir children as a way of instilling discipline. Today, it is almostimpossible for parents to punish children and the latter are takingadvantage of the situation to terrorize their former. As opposed to40 years ago, modern parents are facing increased risk of findingthemselves in the corridor of justice or even having their childrentaken away from them if the court comes to a conclusion that theirhomes are not conducive for a young person. Although this papersupports O`Keeffeand Clarke-Pearson, who argue that corporal punishment does more harmthan good, modern children are taking advantage of the lenientmethods of disciplining them. The only methodavailable to many parents for instilling discipline to their childrenis talking. Some parents even take their children for therapy in casethe latter fail to talk to them or even say what is bothering them.
Today, parents are finding it hard balancing work and child care. Inthe 1970s, only 37% of women were in the workforce compared to 58%today (Housel). As such, in most families, both the wife and husbandhave a full-time job. Consequently, parents are left with noalternative but to hire a nanny. According to a study by the U.SCouncil of Economic Advisors, an average American family has 22 hoursless of parenting or family time every week compared to 4 decades(Long, 122). Currently, parents spend a substantialamount at their places of work as they seek to provide for the basicneeds of their families. Consequently, modern parents have less timeto attend to the emotional needs of their children (Long,122). With the advent of computers and the internet,some parents are forced to take part of their job to their homes.Besides, even if today’s families are earning more money that theircounterparts did 40 years ago, this has not positively altered theirfinancial stress. Today’s families that have both the mother andfather working earn 75% more money compared to their single-incomehouseholds 40 years ago, but have less money to spend(Long, 123).
The surging cost of living makes modern parenting extremely toughercompared to 40 years ago. According to Pamela, today’s parentsspend double the amount their counterparts in the 1970s used to raisechildren. Housel says that raising a child in 1970s from birth untilshe/she attains the age 17 years was $ 185,856 factoring in theinflation rates. According to Pamela, today, it costs parents fromthe lower income group about $243, 790 to a raise one child frombirth until the later is 18 years old. For parents in the higherincome group, the amount needed to bring forth a child is $283,390.This amount includes the cost of housing, childcare, clothing,transportation, food, education, and miscellaneous good and services.The amount needed to raise a child differs depending on theenvironment. For example, according to Pamela, in most cities,nannies charge $400 to 750$ a week depending on their skills andexperience. The high cost of bringing up a child in the city factorin the effects of the lifestyle adjustments such as selling homes,changing jobs, and relocating. The cost of modern parenthood is evenhigher for parents whose children enroll in institutions of higherlearning. According to Pamela, the cost of raising a child from birththrough college assuming that he/she goes to a public university is$500,000. On the other hand, if the child ends up in a privateuniversity a parent needs about $ 635,000. On the other hand,according to Housel in 1970s, the cost of child care and educationconsumed 2% of the overall amount spent by a parent while in 2010 theamount increased to 17%.
In conclusion, evidently, modern parents face tougher challengesraising their children compared to their counterparts who were in thesame position in the 1970s. For the last 40 years, many facets of thesociety have experienced a revolution. For instance, followingincreased urbanization and the economic hardships, parents can onlydepend on themselves or nannies in the upbringing of their children.Modern parents face severe challenges such as social disapproval as alarge proportion of the public thinks that both mothers and parentsare not doing enough to bring forth a responsible generation.Besides, modern parents have to cater for the high cost of child careand education which has increased from 2% in 1970 to 17% in 2010. Thecost of education is even higher if a child ends up joining privateuniversities which charge exorbitant tuition fees. Apart from thehigh cost of child care and education, modern parents have to be onthe lookout for their children’s whereabouts as opposed to 40 yearsago where the latter played alone or with their friends withoutarousing anyone’s attention. Today, if a child is seen playingalone in a park, his/her, parents may end up facing a case ofneglect. Additionally, the internet and the mass media are takingover parenting roles for modern teens. Research shows that teensspend a substantial amount of their time on social media platforms.The internet poses a huge challenge for modern parents because itreduces their ability to monitor what their children are doing duringtheir free time. As opposed to 40 years ago, modern television shows,commercials, and films are awash with violent and sexually-explicitcontent. It is extremely difficult for parents to monitor what theirchildren are watching on the television since the latter can use theinternet to view anything they want. There is also the problem of theproliferation of junk food which has prompted parents to be on thelookout for what their children are eating or else they will becriticized for raising overweight or obese children.
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