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Do Parents of Today Have It Rougher Than Those of The Past?

Armando Gimenez 22′

It is a common fact that being a parent is one of, if not, the hardest job in the world. Parenting is the world’s most essential job and must be done to the best of one’s ability, since they are the molders of a future generation. Although the job of a parent will exist for as long as time, the way to parent and nurture will continue to change as the world continues to progress. During this divided age full of technology and unknown dangers, one question continues to linger the mind: “Is it harder to raise a kid in our society today, compared to when our parents were being raised in their society?” With this question, we have to take in account a multitude of factors.

Fear 

One essential part of being a guardian and a nurturer is the role of a comforter and consolidator. As children continue to grow they are confronted by a multitude of fears and anxieties. These fears can be different for each child, but the job still remains the same: to console your child when they are frightened. Without the role of a proper consolidator, these simple fears can become deep rooted and take the form of different anxieties that could prevent them from living a normal life. One large problem that parents may face is the child’s inability to talk about their fears or to dismiss them as just fears. Every child is different, so there are a variety of circumstances that one may face. Even though this factor of being a parent could never be changed, the gravity of fear within society varies between generations. The events that take place within each generation heavily impacts the difficulty of a parents job, since traumatic events cannot be as easily consoled as normal fears. This trauma affects the parent’s mindset of the world, which can cause them to panic more and create tough and stressful situations for their children. Trauma for both the parents and the children make parenting harder and causes one to not act in the way they normally would. 

Traumatic events and great sources of fear cause a mass of paranoia that could prevent a child from growing properly and drive the parents to obsess over their child’s safety. This paranoia and obsessive behavior comes from the new found realization of danger within the world that pops into the mind after their traumatic experience. This new knowledge of the world creates problems within the psyche that disables a parent’s ability to let go of their child, since they are fearful of the possibilities of danger that their child may face. This fear induced paranoia has existed for millennia but the magnitude of it changes as each generation faces a new event.  

When the crack scourge swept New York City - New York Daily News

As a new generation, the youth tends to not look back on the experiences of their parents, specifically their traumatic experiences. Two of the most traumatic and terrifying events that my parents would experience were the Crack Epidemic and the AIDS Epidemic. For those fortunate enough to not live in an urban household, they may not have experienced the full effect and consequences of both epidemics. The Crack Epidemic would not only damage households, but also force kids onto the street to fend for themselves. Kids were not able to rely on their parents for support, which put them in dangerous and immoral situations where they would have to make difficult choices to survive. This made it difficult for kids, but the parents still had the responsibility to avoid the epidemic and keep their children away from harm. The trials and tribulations that the kids faced during the epidemic was at its core caused by the parents’ wrongdoing or lack of control over their child’s safety.

Although my parents had to experience their own traumas, with closer examination it becomes quite clear that our generation is abundant with fear and terror. After the terrible events of 9/11, terrorism would spike within the U.S causing large amounts of fear and trauma within society. This widespread fear and trauma would not only affect the adults, but also kids around the country, creating deep rooted trauma and inconsolable fear. This mass fear would be the worst the world would ever see.  It becomes clear that the present generation is sadly unmatched in the amount of terror and fear that haunts not only the children, but the traumatized adults that would come to raise children of their own. These events, coupled with the rise of the Internet, would create large instances of paranoia from things that people did not understand, the Internet, or from things that they thought they knew, 9/11. This horrific event was only the spark that would come to light the whole world on fire. Throughout later years mass shootings and school shootings would come to rise not only creating fear but social division.

The Essence of Truth

Parenting is not only a job that concerns the safety and well-being of a child but also the morality and ideologies of that child. It is quite clear that children are visual learners and imitate those around them. As visual learners, they tend to copy what others do and say. This can create a major conflict for parents trying to guide their child down a specific path. Since the beginning, society has been divided into two opposite sides. These two sides would change names or ideologies, but their eternal conflict against each other would remain unchanged. This divide would sometimes grow farther or closer during different events that would morph society’s view of itself.

Misinformation vs. Disinformation vs. Mal-information

In today’s world, influenced by the Internet, there are a variety of sources for information throughout the world. This social division aggravates these sources, causing a surplus of information to flood the world. Due to the foundation that the Internet has within our society, we have a terrible habit of consuming this information and accepting it as truth without any means to certify its validity. This dilemma would only spawn an influx of disinformation and distrust within society. This has become such a problem today that a decent amount of people within America deny the existence of the moon landing and of the earth’s spherical shape. With the excess of information that stems from news networks and the internet, false beliefs are created and extremist ideologies are entertained. Simply, the essence of truth is lost within the sea of disinformation and extreme ideologies that consume our society.

This inability to identify the truth not only affects the parents, who are trying to teach their children what is right, but the kids who consume this misinformation and grow their lives around this information, rooting itself into the core of that child’s life. Many people get completely entranced by misinformation, so much so that it is impossible for them to believe anything otherwise. This is one core reason for why many hateful and dangerous ideologies still exist. Since a person is unwilling to believe anything otherwise, they pass that false knowledge onto their kid creating more hatred and misinformation. This dilemma existed in the past as well, but it is truly a shame and embarrassment to see that people still act this way. This is truly a tragedy that makes it harder for parents to teach their kids and allow them to grow.

Control

For the past two points we dove into the parts of parenting that affect the child’s future and ability to grow into a proper adult. This will deal with the difference of control that parents have over their children between the old and new generation. The difficulty of controlling a kid varies for each child since every child reacts differently to parenting. It is commonly known that excessive parenting, also known as “helicopter parenting,” over a child can be toxic to the parent-child relationship and importance of trust. In this modern age of technology, it becomes easier for parents to watch over their children, especially when they are far away from their child. Technology allows parents to monitor their children and make sure that they are safe. This allows some semblance of freedom, while still having surveillance over the situation. This technology to monitor was not accessible during the past, and since there was very little home entertainment in the past, children had to have their own fun with other kids in the neighborhood outside. This made it harder to monitor and control what children did during the day. It may seem as though this technology would make it easier for parents to control their children, but this could not be further from the truth. 

Although parents are able to monitor their children more with the help of technology, ironically, they still face limits for watching their children. As children get older, they naturally grow more independent from their parents and start to form their own individuality. This process usually occurs at school or areas outside of the parent’s bubble. With access to technology, the child has infinite access and freedom to interact with new worlds that their parents might disagree with or oppose. Exposure to the internet might introduce the child to things they aren’t mature enough to handle. The internet, in itself, is able to traumatize a child, ruin their morality and create a divide between the parent and their child. With this immeasurable power and freedom within a child’s hand it becomes apparent that parents will never be able to control or guide their kid down a specific lifestyle within this age. 

A Student’s Perspective: Andrew Bondarev ’22

Andrew Bondarev, shared a unique and interesting perspective that adds to the argument. He took the time to dive deeper within the subject and gave me a view of his insight on the topic and his focus on the individual. Within this point of view we see the overwhelming importance and neglect of connection that occurs throughout our post-modernist society.

In today’s society, we see a rise of dehumanization and neglect of human dignity. Due to the Internet’s influence on society and its perception of status, we start to see that people will neglect their own dignity, and that of others, in order to gain the tiniest bit of social status and fame. Instead of focusing on the things that matter in the world, people look towards “influencers” and entertainers for guidance and meaning. This toxic environment isn’t suitable for impressionable children, making it harder for parents to create honest and just kids. These false idols on social media draw kids to sacrifice their own connections to others all for the purpose of meeting that false idea of fame and success, instead of finding their own success within themselves. This lack of connection creates a person who ignores the love surrounding them and uses others around them for their own personal agenda. It is ironic how the technology that allows us to communicate with others around the world would eventually cause a new generation to be disconnected from each other and forget the love that they originated from. This disconnect makes it harder for parents to become their children’s mentors, instead they look towards the internet to be the parent. This is only one effect of the internet’s role in our modern day society. 

What part of Social Media management can I automate?

Going further with this disconnect, we tend to forget our own individuality and the dignity of others. This large disconnect is also why bullying still thrives today through the internet and other forms of media. Online bullying has had a rampant and destructive effect on families throughout the world, due to the loss of personal connection and lack of dignity that a person would feel towards another. This common phenomenon would be the cause for school shootings and other horrific forms of violence. The lack of connection and consumption by the internet creates a void being that has lost their morality and own personal meaning. In every way possible the Internet has become a Black Hole that devours the users connection to reality and truth. 

In Conclusion 

As the argument comes to an end, it becomes clear that it is harder to raise children today than in the past. Although there were many problems that parents and children had to face in the past, the possibilities of danger and failure within today’s society shows how much more difficult it is to raise children today when compared to the past. Due to the events that occurred at the turn of the century, our society would begin to rely on technology and try to escape a new cruel reality. New technology and trauma created a new world were paranoia and distrust would take center stage and change how people parent. So many unknown possibilities of danger for kids exist today, that make it extremely difficult for parents to efficiently raise their kids.  

Online bullying on the rise among girls - Axios

Even though the purpose of this discussion was to compare the difficulty of parenting between generations, it is necessary to say that parenting is the most gruesome and important job in the world. The purpose of parenting is not only to create a better generation, but to share love and create loving beings.  When we look back on our lives, we can be grateful for our loved ones who formed us into the people we are today.

As a wise woman once said “Done properly, Parenting is a heroic act”(Edna Mode).

Adult Perspective: Mr. Bruno’s Reflection 

Short answer: during the COVID-19 pandemic, absolutely parents have it harder, but in that sense everyone has it harder right now as well.

My students always surprise me with their ability to write, think, and argue the perspectives they take. In many ways, it helps me see the world in a different light. The argument above posed by Armando and Andrew is thoughtful cultural criticism about coming of age in the rapidly-technologically-advancing post-9/11 society.

The answer they come to is that parenting is more difficult today than it has been in the past. I find this answer tinged with the natural rebellious nature teenagers and young adults have as they start to develop identities outside the family unit and take larger steps toward their eventual independence. Adolescents have this hyper-focus on the newness of their experience and the way it differentiates them from the past. Part of this differentiation leads to the assumptions and critiques of previous generations, who have been critiquing them since birth. However, this differentiation from the past is not enough to judge it definitely as better or worse.

Ecclesiastes, one of the books of Wisdom in the Bible, has one answer to this topic: “One generation departs and another generation comes, but the world forever stays” (1.3-4). The world remains the same. The passing of one generation to the next and the troubles and toils each generation faces will be the same suffering in different forms. Each national challenge and trauma we face, each new wave of technology will be hard to adapt to, each global crisis that arises is significant. Every generation has their challenges, and it is up to that generation to solve them. 

What I want to say to my students is this. It is good that you see the problems and challenges that your society and generation are facing. Identify them, sit with them, ponder them. Once you have thought for a while, turn your attention away from how your parents can fix it, and instead take the leap towards independence and the role society needs you to take by figuring out how you can fix them. You are the future of the society and you have the answers. You might just not know what they are yet, but you will.

 

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