Raising Children Past and Present Sociology Essay Example

The family is an important building block of any society and it is formed repetitively over the years. Therefore, marriage plays an important part in the society as it brings forth children that enlarge the family. Families are different, but they normally experience similar issues. Issues in marriages play an important part in facilitating family issues and at times affect the children.

The Evolution of Childrearing

However, over centuries the raising of children have changed due to the changing times and beliefs in families. Children raised 50 years ago have a different experience from those children raised in today’s world. For this essay, I choose to raise children in the past and present because I have a 17-month-old nephew that I take care of. He has a mother and father, but spends much time at our house.

Historically, children are an important part of the society as they are inheritors and leaders of the tomorrow’s world. They also offer help to their parents during their old age; therefore, they should be raised well to fulfill these duties. Marriage in the older days was an important rite of passage as it was seen as a way of procreating by giving rise to new members in the family. Separation of parents was, therefore, discouraged even when other wives were married; thus, divorce cases were low. Mothers normally stayed at home raising the kids, thus spending a lot of time teaching them moral values and shaping their lives.

Today, marriage is not perceived as a means of companionship where couples can stay in a marriage without having children. Some even opt to adopt children and raise them as their own. Children are also raised by same-sex parents due to the acceptability of the same-sex marriages, which was not present in the past. In same-sex parents, children lack either a male figure or a female figure in their lives, which is important when growing up as they offer different pieces of advice and bonds. Divorce rates are also high and the most affected people are children who are affected psychologically by parent separation. Single parenthood has forced parents to spend less time with their children since they are always busy, working to meet needs of the family. Consequently, children are normally lonely, lack enough parental love, grow with a lot of frustration, and may be violent in future. The conflict between parents is the other problem that exists in today’s marriages and is mainly caused by alcoholism or substance abuse and financial issues.

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Theoretical Perspectives

Conflict Theory

The Conflict Theory is the best theoretical perspective that fits to explain family issues that exist in raising children in the past and present. The theory explains that aspects such as huge economic pressures on individual personality and social structure are the source of conflicts in marriages. Conflict is inevitable among two people in a marriage relationship when they are unstable economically as needs of the family need to be met. When there are disagreements about how these needs should be met, conflicts arise that destroy peace in the family.
The Conflict Theory also describes that social structures are susceptible to constant change and erosion. Change in the social structure is pervasive as conflicts are inherent in any relationship. According to conflict management approaches, conflict is also viewed as inherent and inevitable in people’s present small groups. As they live together and share almost everything, people are likely to disagree and some may change their system of personal relationship. Conflicts are caused by the disparity in the way social power is distributed in a marriage. The powerful tend to garner the most shares of scarce resources to themselves, leading to a confrontation with the oppressed party, and normally conflicts arise. These conflicts end up hurting children psychologically and can develop mental disorders and depression.

The theory assumes that in the social world the self-centered individual operates to increase his or her rewards in a competitive world. It defines these assumptions by outlining various natures of human beings that lead to conflicts. Human beings are self-inclined and oriented when pursuing their interest at the expense of the other party. They are also a symbol of consuming or producing creatures and their environment complements their needs
The conflict theory also assumes that human societies have organized systems that can make human survive and predict outcomes. It also assumes that the societies operate in conditions with limited resources and everyone strives to get a piece of it. Additionally, constant confrontations within the society help in facilitating social change and growth. Changes occur when conflicts are resolved and some may not be good for the children’s growth. Some of the solutions that come with solving conflicts include divorce or separation and may lead to engagement of alcoholism to relieve pain and frustrations. Such parents can be violent to children.

The Structure-Functional Theory

The structure-functional theory perceives family as a social institution, which performs important functions in the society and shapes behavior of children. Every family has certain values, norms, beliefs, and attitudes that individuals need to meet to survive. Therefore, children in the family need to live by values and norms of the family to avoid punishments. The theory describes that in traditional societies the structure of the family was extended with kinship groups. This type of family included grandparents, parents, children, cousins, aunts, uncles, and other relatives. These family members performed functions such as economic production, training, maintaining social order, and protecting family members.

In modern or today’s society, the structure of the family is a nuclear family that consists of father, mother, and children. This type of family has lost functions performed by other members of the extended family such as instilling moral values even in the absence of parents. Economic production is not at home anymore, but in shops, companies, or factories. Police, healthcare providers, juvenile authorities, and fire department maintain and provide social order and protection. Schools and technical institutions provide training to children, showing how supportive role of family members is absent in today’s society.

However, the theory describes important functions family has in raising responsible children. It describes family’s role in providing economic and emotional security. The society needs trained people who can raise children properly. Today, parents leave the child-rearing task to grandparents, as well as new-married or divorced parents. Parents should also provide basic needs such as food, shelter, and clothing to children. Emotional security through provision of affection, companionship, and support during stressful times should be provided to children by the parents of guardians. Additionally, providing a home without conflicts and exposure to substance abuse gives children emotional security.

Is Family Changing? Why or Why Not?

Families have changed over the centuries due to the effect of developmental idealism that changes values and beliefs of people and brings cultural clashes in the community. Developmental idealism is the value and belief system that states that modern familial and societal attributes are better than traditional attributes (Thornton, 2001). This is because modern societies facilitate production of modern families that promote the attainment of modern societies and equality and freedom of human rights.

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Distribution of developmental idealism internationally and clashes with local traditions change social systems and lives. It has influenced development of international treaties on human rights that focus on women and children in modernization programs that eliminate female veiling and polygamy and spread low fertility, gender equality, delayed marriages, and right to choose a partner (Thornton, 2001). For instance, the short stay of Europeans in America during the colonization period made Native Americans capable of speaking the European language. Therefore, as Christians, Europeans were able to spread their gospel to the appropriate family attributes like monogamy and marriages at the appropriate age, leading to restriction of polygamy and young marriage in America. Africa colonization by Europeans also turned many Africans into Christians and was able to transform their norms and values.

Additionally, it has also influenced personal freedom in regards to divorce, childbearing and childrearing outside marriage, and sexual relations. This freedom was emphasized during the French revolution that advocated for equality, fraternity, and freedom. Towards the end of the 18th century, France passed divorce laws and reforms on equal inheritance (Thornton, 2001). During the American Revolution, equality and freedom were also emphasized and divorce laws were permanently eased. After World War II, divorce was permissive, increasing divorce rates that increased single parenthood in America. Many divorced people have also ended up remarrying, increasing the population of people who are in reformed families.

Same-sex marriages have also been accepted by various countries. During the past few decades, governments have been supporting same-sex relationships, especially in the United States. Through the principles of equality and freedom, people in same-sex relations have been also given the freedom to sexual orientation. The act has been therefore legalized and lesbians and gays have become open concerning their sexual orientations; thus, they are now accepted in the society.

Legalization of lesbian and gay relations also occurs in other countries such as India. The highest court has ruled against the prohibition of same-sex relations and said that prohibiting it violates the principle of liberty and equality. Canada has also legalized same-sex marriages. Many children are now raised in families with parents of the same sex. Although, these parents can provide better education and all the basic needs of these children, children need both parents for better growth. For instance, boys need male figures to help teach masculine tactics needed to solve life problems. Besides, a male figure helps make the boy be tough and have strong manly personality. Therefore, a boy being raised by lesbian parents may lack such opportunity.

Developmental idealism has been spread by various mechanisms. They include Christian missionaries, colonialism, government policies, mass media, education, foreign aid programs, international, national, and non-governmental organizations, and international conventions and treaties. Messages of developmental idealism spread fast because the persuasiveness of the idea is attained through the use of legal sanctions and financial incentives by powerful non-governmental and governmental organizations.

Consequently, they have positively and negatively affected marriages and families. Methods of raising children have also changed with some coping with these changes by growing up in the course of a normal life. Some children have not been able to cope with the changes and have ended up living a frustrated life because they lack attention, love, and emotional security fueled by the fact that parents are ever busy working.

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Similarities and Differences between the Past and the Present

The issue of child-rearing has been discussed over the years by individuals all around the world. With the ever-changing world, children have been raised in different social and cultural settings, which have affected their up-bringing. Thus, there have been changes in the way children have been raised from past periods and this is attributable to changes that continually occur in the society, changes in the family structure, and changes in children themselves.

In the past, children were raised and viewed as “economic assets” who could provide labor in whichever activities the family engaged in for survival. For instance, children took part in running their farms, learning the family trade, and doing household chores that were mainly done by girls. Thus, children had a role to play in the family from their early upbringing; they knew they had to perform various duties as it was expected by family. However, this form of child rearing is very different in the modern era. A look into the modern American families shows that children are pampered and many do not take part in household chores. Thus, children are not raised with the intention of seeing them as “economic assets” and child labor is rarely heard of in the modern society. In fact, parents hire nannies to raise their children, depending on their financial capabilities, to ensure that their children do not take part in household chores and are well taken care of in their absence. This is more so with rich parents who aim at ensuring that their children have the best that life can offer and, instead of having them do any cumbersome chores, they would rather pay for exquisite holiday vacations to enjoy. Thus, a modern child has been raised being pampered and provided for and many look up to their parents for their daily up-keep unlike in the past where they were raised to be independent and fend for themselves.

Another distinction in past and modern era of how children were raised relates to the issue of authority and approval. Whereas in the past children yearned to seek their parents’ approval in various matters, the reverse is true in the modern society. In the past, children were raised in strict family settings where they had to obey the rules and seek approval of their parents in various matters. However, the modern era has seen children being raised in families where authority is wanting and in many cases parents aim at seeking the approval of their children. Many are the instances when children are seen to throw tantrums and even objurgate their parents for not having done something to their liking. Mothers in many single-parent situations are usually stressed out in raising their children as children have reversed roles and dictate how they want to be raised by telling them what they want to eat, wear, or even which schools they want to attend.

This brings in the issue of discipline, which is very predominant in the societal setting. In the modern society, children lack discipline as compared to children raised in the past. As a result of the pampering that they receive from their parents, children raised in the modern era take this to their advantage and engage in wanton behavior. This can be attributed to the fact that the modern parent has raised the child to be autonomous; thus, the freedom that the parent gives the child has become misguided. Unlike in the past when children were raised without much freedom being accorded to them, the modern society lauds the freedom of the child and aims at giving them a sense of autonomy and freedom to voice out their issues. As a result of this, children are raised with the perception that what they do is up to them as they alone will face the consequences of their actions. Thus, taking this autonomous concept that they have been raised in to their advantage, indiscipline arises as they defend their actions on the basis that they have the freedom to do as they please. In addition, because of this “autonomous” concept, the modern era has seen the rise of teenage engagement in drug and alcohol, early teenage pregnancies ,and violent crimes. Hence, freedom and autonomy with which modern children are raised in has seen the rise of youth delinquency in the society, which unfortunately has become the norm.

The disintegration of the family and the rising rates of divorce cases have seen the disruption of the normal family structure, i.e. father, mother, and children. In the modern society, children are raised in single-parent families that may consist of a mother alone or a father alone. As a result of the ever-increasing rates of divorce in the modern society, children have no choice but to be raised by one parent who takes care of them. Thus, the cohesion that was once in the family is destroyed and divorce takes root. In the past, cases of divorce were scarce and children had the privilege of being raised in full family units where both father and mother were present.

The increasing number of working mothers has also contributed to a difference in the way children are raised. In the past, mothers were central in raising their children and many were stay-at-home mothers who took care of the house, while the father took up the duty of fending for the family. Thus, mothers were present in their children’s lives and upbringing. However, with the rise of equality in the society, there has been a rise in the number of working mothers in the modern era and children are raised and taken care of either by their nannies or extended families. However, for the majority of people the cost of day care tends to be too high and, thus, many opt to leave their children at the care of their grandparents, close relatives, or friends who offer to watch over the children for a certain period before the arrival of parents from work. Unlike in the past where fathers were the sole breadwinners of the family, the modern society has also seen the rise of stay-at-home fathers while their spouses go to work. Hence, in the modern era children also tend to be raised by their fathers, while their mothers act as the sole breadwinner of the family.

The advancement of technology has also played a role in the way children are raised in the modern society as compared to the past. Unlike in the past where family units were closely-knit, children were raised up playing in close-knit neighborhoods, and society appreciated each other, technology has displaced this in the modern society. Children these days are raised in the confines of their houses where video games and televisions have taken a huge bulk of their time and have become their “human” form of companionship. Rarely can children be seen playing with each other in the neighborhoods as many opt to stay in-doors playing their video games and this has also displaced the role and presence of parents in the family. Additionally, in the past, children used to be spanked by their parents as a form of punishment. This is different in modern times where spanking of children is seen as a vice and parents advocate for talking to their children in order to instill discipline.

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However, regardless of these differences in how children were and are raised in the past and in modern times, there is a common similarity in both cases, which is the fact that parents raise their children with love and care so as to be responsible individuals in the society. Regardless of the time period and the manner in which they are instilled discipline, parents raise their children with the goal of teaching them to be responsible people. In addition, there was and is always the presence of a parental figure, whether a single mother or father, who takes up the responsibility of raising the child and who strives to ensure that the child receives the basic needs like food, shelter, and clothing.

Who Is Affected by This?

The practice of raising children mainly affects children, parents, and the society at large. Practices such as disciplining children in the past and present have several effects. In the past, the physical discipline of children was allowed in the society and it aided in shaping the children’s behavior in the society. In the present, physical discipline is not advocated for given the change in the society as it has several effects on children such as causing them to be aggressive and anxious. Children usually grow to become violent as they react to the physical discipline from their parents. Such children usually participate in violent crimes in the society, therefore disrupting the peace in the society. Besides, children are affected because they fail to develop emotionally where they tend to be violent to other children and grow up without knowing how to connect emotionally with others, thus affecting their future relationships. The relationship between children and parents is also affected where the children tend to view their parents as violent and fail to form relationships with them. Children tend to grow up with fear of their parents and fail to develop ways to communicate with them. In case of non-physical discipline that is highly advocated for in the present, children sometimes fail to adhere to their parents’ rules and the effect is that they may develop bad behavior.

The practice of raising children with the encouragement of different labor activities also has several effects, especially on children. In the past, children were required to undertake several household activities. The result is that children became more responsible and learnt to take care of themselves at an early age. Children also learnt from their household activities how to be responsible for their actions. In the present, some parents fail to involve their children in household activities and hire people who undertake activities for children. The effect of this is that such children lack basic skills on how to be responsible not only for themselves, but also for others. Such children fail to develop ways of being responsible in the society and fail to learn how to work with others.

The practice of raising children by the authoritarian parenting style in the past and that of permissive parenting that is mainly being practiced in the present also have several effects on children and the society. In the past, parents were authoritative to their children and this greatly affected children in that they learnt to be obedient through the strict discipline that was emphasized. However, parents often withdrew their affection from their children and the effect is that the children failed to learn how to communicate with their own children. In the present, permissive parenting is mainly practiced whereby parents allow children to do whatever they want for fear of enforcing rules on them. The result is that children fail to develop any discipline and fail to adhere to any rules enforced on them not only in their homes, but also in the society. Children, therefore, fail to acknowledge rules, often participate in several crimes, and become unruly.

The current single parent raising system that is ever growing as compared to the past also affects children. Divorce was uncommon in the past and, therefore, both parents thereby encouraging better discipline to be instilled in children closely monitor children’s behavior. In the present, single parents raise most children and the result is that children may lack discipline given the fact that a single parent may be too overwhelmed to monitor closely the children’s behavior.

Potential Solutions to Modern Parenting

A lot has changed in parenting both for the right course and bad course and, through observing changes that have taken place, it can be asserted that the changes have not been well received. Parenting today has missed a key point on how to raise a child and how they should guide them through their growth. Despite the claims of the difference in the time frame, still the main issue has remained the same, which is guiding children on the path of their development (Secret, 2005). To narrow the gap between the past parenting and the modern parenting, certain considerations must be addressed promptly. Putting parenting skills right will help children maintain a moral behavioral path despite the current situation.

Provide Time for Children

Today, parents are claimed to be very busy, running various errands. This allows them little or no time to address their children’s issues and provide them with proper guidance and care. Unlike previous parents who allocated plenty of time to spend with their children, today’s parents do not do so. This has become the greatest weakness among new parents. Children are an important part of a family and are very fragile and ductile when not properly taken care of. They require maximum attention so as to avoid the current misbehavior that most children today are accused of having. Therefore, parents need to allocate enough time despite their busy schedule to be a part of their children’s development. They should play their role as parents and keep their children’s progress effectively in check. Providing enough time will help reduce the level of poor child development and avoid missing important parenting steps in a child development (Rogers, 2002).

Increase Connection between Parents and Children

Parents have started to become distanced from their children. They lack the connection between them, making children feel left out during their development. It is recommended that parents maintain the connection with their children if they still need to be a part of their children’s life. Children value a close relationship with their parents; however, the modern parenting has failed to provide this connection. Today, parents are busy doing their duties, leaving their nannies to build a mutual relationship with their kids instead of them. The link between children and their parents is essential as it helps children to share inherent problems with their parents and be closer to them. However, today parents become distanced from their children due to the external demands of life, creating an enormous gap between them and their children. Thus, to solve this predicament, parents have to reinstate the connection between them and their children

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Plan Different Activities That Do Not Include TV, Phones, and Computers

The world has changed and become different as compared to the past years. Technology has taken over most parenting activities and interaction. Most parents spend a lot of their time on embracing technology rather than their children. Moreover, children also find the use of such technology more appealing than their parents’ concern. Children spend most of their time watching, playing computer games, and texting among other technology-related activities. Therefore, to solve such issues, parents are required to engage their children in different activities that do not involve any form of technology. They should share affection with their kids and maintain physical contact such as hugging and cuddling instead of texting through phones. Communication should be direct rather than through the phone. Sharing such moments with children will help improve their connection and strengthen it between the two parties. Children value the presence of their parents and sharing time away from computers and phones in a family is a positive step towards reinstating proper parenting amongst families. Parents should avoid spending most of their time on computers and phones as much as possible. Sometimes, direct communication with children is beneficial for developing them and increasing their involvement with parents.

Being a Role Model to Children

It is recommended for parents to demonstrate a high standard of action and values that they want their children to embrace during their development. Childhood is a period of learning, whereby children mimic behaviors and characters that are presented to them. Therefore, for parents it is important to express the desirable quality that one would like their children to emulate. Parents are required to surround their children with positive people whom they deem acceptable to have their children around. Children learn as they grow through observing little things that are taking place around them. Parents play a huge role in building their children character and behavior. Thus, it is important for parents to act as a role model for their children and guide them on the right path of life before they grow out of hand (Burton, Phipps, & Curtis, 2002). Furthermore, they should keep their children around people who are a good influence on their children to help develop them positively.

Future Direction

What makes the two parenting periods different is the lack of uniformity in the two systems. Today, parents lack consistency in keeping up with their children’s behavior and development. Children require guidance and regular supervising on the right part of development. As a parent, it is important to have a set of rules and guidelines that stipulate how the family should behave and conduct respectively (Charles et al., 2013). When children are well brought up in a family that has a direction, they will automatically fit into the system. This consistency in family development helps prevent the possibility of children showing signs of misconduct or expressing behaviors that are not a part of the family. Therefore, to help align the modern family with the best part of raising their children, it is essential for parents to provide their children with a consistent pattern of family development rules and behaviors that they can follow as they grow. By doing so, the family traditions will be kept and even evolve due to children raising their future families in a similar manner.

Family plays a significant role in children’s development. Over the decades, a lot has changed in relation to family development. People have embraced different ways of raising their children and developing various techniques that help in nurturing the young ones in a family. In the past, parents were more concerned with children who were obedient and non-self centered with a strong emphasis on building special characters and quality. However, this has changed over the years with parents today being sensitive to their children’s individual needs. Parenting has linked more to the demands of children rather the value of the society. Despite all the changes that have taken place between the two timeframes, the primary goal of parenting has remained the same, i.e. to instill moral and character development among children.