The Modern Family
While always present, deviancy in youth recently became a major concern of Americans. Most experts connect teenage behavior to family upbringing. The family structure of the millennium changed dramatically from that of the 1950s, but what spurred this change? The newest, most powerful influence on society—the media. The consumer culture and family norms created by the media for profit severely injured family structure from its 1950s form.
In order to sell goods, the media focuses most on a fabricated list of ‘needs’ that hurt the family economically and emotionally. According to Mr. Shaw, the last five decades experienced the greatest increase of inventions over a given time in history, causing a sharp focus on material culture. A dual-career family is typically the only option wherein a couple has the means to not only provide, but to indulge in the material ‘needs’ presented by the media. Unfortunately, what is gained in economic lifestyle is lost in socio-emotional maintenance. Dr. Brazleton warns women to oppose this loss with extra effort after work. The daytime absence, however, causes varying levels of disattachment. As seen in Harry Harlow’s experiment with Recis monkeys, the presence of the mother plays a significant role in nurturing socialization. Exchanging that priceless presence in childhood for material goods damages the family unit. The media causes this damage by establishing those goods, such as cellular phones, as needs.
Often, however, the media affects society through implications and norm setting rather than advertising. Identifying a strong market, multimedia conglomerates create a subculture for American youth. When shows, movies, and music say, ‘This is the way teens are,’ the adolescents feel pressure to conform. Meanwhile, adults reject teenagers based on their stereotypical behaviors of rebellious, uncontrollable, and immature. The two groups thus fuel the media’s image of youth. These views on teens have caused a decline in communication, one of the leading problems with parents as identified by adolescents. According to Joshua Siemens, a proponent of traditional family structure, the decline in parent-child relationships is devastating. Without proper government assistance, he says, the single parent cannot properly discipline, causing disrespect for authority. The roles of mother and father in a more ideal situation must be encouraged to balance unconditional support with socialization and differentiate between them. If more attempts were made toward this goal, stronger families and better communication would emerge.
Not all changes stemmed from the deliberate attempts of the media. Technological innovations from the microwave to Crest Brush Strips reflect and fuel American’s desire for, “cheap, instant, and disposable.” Sociologists are beginning to realize that this tendency extends beyond consumer products. Hasty marriages, formed by a misguided foundation of romance set by media, became increasingly common in proportion to the increase of hasty divorces. The no-fault divorce, unheard of in the 1950s according to Mr. Shaw, lessens the risks of marriage and provides and easy way out as opposed to couples working through their problems. Now, with ‘disposable’ marriages, family commitment is becoming obsolete. Many adults view parenting as a chore, rather than a blessing, hoping that they can pay someone else to do it or occasionally fighting to not get custody after a divorce. The separation of bonds between spouses leaves youth degraded, with failing self-esteem. As the movie Parenthood criticized, it is instant and cheap to make a baby, but parenting is not a task to be taken lightly.
The consumerism, norms, and ideals promoted in media changed the secure communicating family structure of the 1950s into a battle against one another. It took years of determination before society accepted women in the workplace. How long must we fight to regain the same acceptance for the traditional family?
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Damn the poll didnt work