Significant numbers of young people today are yearning for close relationships of a more permanent nature than they've experienced in their own families. These young people are not taking becoming a parent so lightly as their parents did.
UNWED, single parents, communal relationships, couples who choose other so-called alternative lifestyles — all are defined as families today. Families aren't dying, we're told, they're just changing to survive. In the United States, for example, recent government reports show the stereotyped traditional family, composed of a wage-earning father and a stay-at-home mother with children, belongs to an exclusive club of only 13 percent (other reports say 7 percent) of American households. The accelerated change of the family structure in just one generation is alarming to those who are open minded enough to see the effects on the, children involved. And, more often than not, even the beleaguered, dwindling, two-parent families of today are not meeting the needs of their children. When both parents are more bent on acquiring material things than spending time with their families, their offspring are just as ignored and lonely as those of an overworked single parent. What happened to old-fashioned parents who thought good parenting was one of the primary responsibilities of life? Have they all been relegated in two generations to a couple of television series, children's books and the memories of grandparents? Loving, affectionate parents who wanted success for their children, but weren't domineering — who believed in education and quietly set high standards for their offspring? Are their like gone forever? No, fortunately. There have always been those sure of their own moral and ethical standards. So sure that they could stand fast in a so-called enlightened age of child rearing, and continue to protect their children, stressing self-discipline, following and teaching biblical guidelines. Old-fashioned? Maybe. But, ironically, social and psychological data now point up that such patterns of child rearing create a more confident, innovative child, better prepared to go out and explore life on his or her own. The experts are finally beginning to understand what good parents knew all along. Why aren't there more of these old-fashioned parents? Listen to what Robert Coles, one of the United States' most eminent and influential child psychiatrists had to say about today's parents in a recent interview in U.S. News & World Report: "Many parents are afraid to bring up their children on their own — with their own convictions and their own moral faith." Mr. Coles argues that too many of today's parents are self-centered. They have no commitment to anything greater than themselves."... parents have abdicated a higher vision, whether it be religious or political, and they no longer believe, really, in a national purpose. Having turned away from both God and country, they are left with themselves — their own comforts." What an indictment upon our materialistic Western society. Happily some dare to practice what is termed "old-fashioned" parenting no matter what the current thought of their contemporaries. And some believe, out of this mishmash of modern, social change, the old-fashioned family will make a comeback. Significant numbers of young people today are yearning for close relationships of a more permanent nature than they've experienced in their own families. These young people are not taking becoming a parent so lightly as their parents did. To those young people this article is dedicated. It's written by one reared by old-fashioned parents to encourage any of you who may one day dare to challenge the system and, against overwhelming odds, become the next generation's old-fashioned parents. I had old-fashioned parents. Wed as teenagers, they had to be separated temporarily during the war years, suffered together through loss of work and thus income at times and never acquired great material wealth. Yet their marriage survived and their relationship matured and was strengthened through it all. As children we weren't pressured toward success at any cost, and certainly not at other's expense. My parents quietly expected we would be successful in whatever worthy ventures we might choose. Good books were always available, but not pushed. Cheap, sensational or vulgar material was not allowed. Our lives were filled with art, music and voice lessons, Scouts, school band, family activities and sports. Emotional maturity, courage, honesty, thrift, love for God and country were insisted upon. Those who did not value these same principles were not to be emulated, no matter their status, economically, politically or socially. Though reared in a geographic environment of ethnic and religious bigotry, we were taught to abhor prejudice against our fellowman. My parents had time for us. Time to teach how to cook and sew, how to catch and throw a baseball, how to play a series of parlor games, how to drive a car and shoot a gun, how to ride a horse and catch a fish. There was time to encourage whatever new interest, time to get involved in school activities, time to personally acquaint us with God. Discipline wasn't a dirty word. But abuse was. If my parents didn't always fairly mete out correction, they were so merciful in so many instances, we couldn't honestly complain. We didn't fear our parents — we feared to disobey them. Father and mother had us convinced that any child of theirs must be rather special. After all we were certainly special to them. Home was a haven of love and protection against the sometimes cruel world. Old-fashioned parents made it that way. We moved as a unit, worked together, played together and prayed together, trite as this may seem to many. We were solidly acquainted with grandparents on both sides of the family, and uncles and aunts and cousins. From this stable nurturing core we adventured without fear into life, fully confident of our support system — fashioned by our parents. Our parents had no college or university-level training in child psychology. They had only their own experience and backgrounds to draw from. Their only guidebook was the Bible. If there is a backlash developing against the moral and ethical downslide so prevalent in our Western world, all of us, no matter what generation, should support every fledgling attempt toward that goal. For the sake of the future well-being of mankind, we must. The Creator God does not take the responsibilities of child rearing and the maintaining of strong family ties lightly. After all, he created this oldest of social institutions — the FAMILY.