In addition to anxiety and constant conflict, add to this Culture of Blame a child’s right to choose.
More than ever before in history, children get to decide: what they wear, where they eat, how they spend their time – and with whom they spend their time. Society has changed. You can’t blame this on one parent. As author Twenge (2006) states: parental authority also isn’t what it used to be.
“Parents are no longer eager to be ‘parents.’ They want to love and guide their children as a trusted friend,” says family studies professor Robert Billingham in a recent Chicago Sun-Times article.
Chicago-area parent Richard Shields says that his 17-year-old son is his best friend. He prefers them to have fun together rather than impose strict rules or discipline. “It’s better for them to see our values and decide to gain them for themselves,” he says. This also means that children play a much larger role in family decisions. The kids who chose their own outfits as preschoolers have grown into teenagers who help their parents choose which car to buy or even where to live.
The Sun-Times article interviewed a large group of teens and their families, finding one where a teenage daughter helped her father decide on a new job, and another where the two teenage kids make all of the home-decorating and electronics-purchasing decisions. Forty percent of teens see their opinions as “very important” in making family decisions.
Today is it not surprising that parents feel helpless when a child says that he or she doesn’t want to spend time with the other parent. This is true, even in non-divorced families. Children feel empowered to make decisions about their relationships with their parents, and our culture blames the parents for this.
There seems to be less support for parents by the general culture than ever before. Parents have to compete with the internet, movies and TV in setting the styles and attitudes for their children. Then, when their children don’t do what they say, it’s all the parent’s fault. It’s not surprising when kids absorb all of this. Our society’s Culture of Blame has added many bricks to the Wall of Alienation and, if trends continue, is likely to be adding many more in the future.
Excerpt from Don’t Alienate the Kids! Raising Resilient Children While Avoiding High-Conflict Divorce. By Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq. Published by HCI Press www.hcipress.com
Parts of this article reprinted in Unhooked Books with the permission of The Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., from GENERATION ME by Jean M. Twenge, PhD. Copyright © 2006 by Jean M. Twenge, PhD. All rights reserved.