Up Close with Dr. E: Cultural Change | Lifestyles


When my daughter started kindergarten, I changed my work schedule to spend time… OK, the truth is best. My wife changed my work schedule so that “dad could attend his daughter’s first school experience”. Having attended that same school myself, when I was five years old, my own memories, like popcorn exploding in a microwave, jumped and bounced in my head.

My own childhood struggles, captured on film or in photographs taken by my parents, showed a boy who wore a perpetually wrinkled eyebrow on his face. That worried look became the thermometer by which my levels of distress were to be measured. I was just too sensitive and thin-skinned to enjoy the hustle and bustle of early childhood socialization.

So, it was one of those great parenting moments where my daughter, on her first day of kindergarten, did something I could only dream of: after learning and using the names of her classmates, she played, laughed, laughed and, most importantly, connected with her peers. I saw his social skills unfold, like a barn-sized banner proclaiming: Joy is Friendship!

As my daughter grew up, I was able to meet many of her friends, as she often invited them to our house. Then one day, when she was 10, she came to me with tears streaming down her cheeks: “Megan is moving out, her parents are getting a divorce. Since Megan lived in our neighborhood, I was able to recognize the impact this loss had on my daughter. But what came next hit me much harder: “Dad, promise me you’ll never divorce mom and that I’ll never have to move out of my house.”

As a father, I knew she was asking for stability and security. As a psychologist, I knew his need for a stable home had become far more essential than it had ever been for any previous generation of children. For the world had changed and the culture in which my daughter lived had lost those protective elements which, like the stone walls outside a castle, had protected children from physical and emotional harm.

What were these elements? Here is a partial list: TV and movies touted core values ​​such as a hard work ethic, honesty, and respect for elders; grandparents, aunts and uncles were part of the family fabric; adult conversations on the porch were a way for children to learn about the world; small schools allowed parents and teachers to work closely together on a child’s education.

American culture has moved from treating young girls as a protected class to the current one of girl poisoning where the new value system is as follows: be beautiful and focus on perfecting your personal appearance. Adhere to the advertising and media image where alcohol, drugs, sex and violence merge to form the new image of adolescent femininity: magnificent recreational toys. (Pipher, 1994)

How to explain this change of culture in America? To answer this question, let me first give you two recent research results (these results were reviewed by Anne D. Ream, in a November 16, 2008 article in the Chicago Tribune):

Joan Brumberg’s research revealed how a new cultural shift, beginning in the 1980s, transformed the basic value system of American youth. Brumberg took journals written by teenage girls over the past 100 years to see if the concept of “self-improvement” had changed. She discovered that a change had taken place: before the 1980s, the way to improve was through education. From 1980, the way to improve one’s life shifted to improving one’s body or physical appearance.

A second study identified a new parent-child relationship, based on age compression, a process defined as: a phenomenon in which girls are adultized (made to look older) and women are rejuvenated (made to look older). look younger). Indeed, mothers give up their role of parent to be as cool as their daughters.

So now that you have a taste of the destructive power of your child’s culture, you may need ideas on how to change their culture. Here are some tips to get started:

1. Add up the time you spend each week with your children. Whatever the total, try to double it.

2. Turn your home into a social center for your child. Get to know your children’s friends and their parents.

3. Fire up your ovens and bake cookies – lots of cookies – so your kids have a strong memory of their mom or dad baking at home.

4. Make sure your children spend time with extended family members – grandparents, aunts and uncles.

5. Take your kids to live performances so they can be touched by the beauty of art and music.

6. Get to know your child’s teachers and establish a good relationship with them.

7. Take your kids outside to enjoy nature.

8. Stop feeling guilty for saying “no” to your children. Strong parental authority is an essential part of protecting your child.

Source: “Reviving Ophelia”, Mary Pipher, 1994.

(The content of this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional treatment.)

Dr. Richard Elghammer is a clinical psychologist in Danville, Illinois, and Crawfordsville, Ind. He received specialized training in child, adolescent, and family psychology at Riley’s Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis and completed his clinical internship at Indiana University School of Medicine.)


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