Parenting is an important part of how society functions. Parents rear the rising generation that will become the political leaders, the work force, and the consumers of tomorrow.
Parents raise children to become successful adults. Laurence Steinberg (2005) states, “Good parenting is parenting that fosters psychological adjustment–elements like honesty, empathy, self-reliance, kindness, cooperation, self-control, and cheerfulness” (p. 4). Parenting isn’t always easy though, in fact it can be rather difficult. Francine Deusch (2001) says, “Parenting is created through the accumulation of decisions and acts that make up parents’ everyday lives.” Mothers and fathers constantly act and make decisions that affect how their children interpret and see the society they live in. Actions of parents affect the future actions of children.
If parents fail in their parenting responsibilities, their children, as adults, have a higher risk of becoming a detriment to society. Patrick F. Fagan (1995) says, “Even in high-crime inner-city neighborhoods, well over 90 percent of children from safe, stable homes do not become delinquents. By contrast only 10 percent of children from unsafe, unstable homes in these neighborhoods avoid crime.” Stable families create stable adults. Mothers and children with strong affectionate attachment create the best buffer against a life of crime; while fathers’ authority and involvement are also great buffers for their children (Fagan 1995). Both a mother and a father are vital in raising productive, lawful individuals.
Fathers are not only important in raising lawful adults, but they are important in creating successful ones. Children without fathers in the home often do not receive the financial support they need resulting with children, on average, not doing as well in school as they have a less educational achievement, an increase in the risk of them committing crimes and becoming involved in delinquent behavior, as well as early sexual activity (Dollahite, 2000, p. 67). If parents, particularly fathers, provide financial support and guidance to their children, those children won’t become, on average, drop-outs or delinquents which would be beneficial for the society the child-as-adult end up living in.
Mothers are important for raising successful children. Mary F. De Luccie (1995) says, Mothers are influential in helping their spouses maintain their parenting role as a father. As mentioned, fathers help children be good members of society; mothers are a part of encouraging that development. Grazyna Kochanska (1997) says, “Attachment researchers pointed out the associations between maternal responsiveness and child compliance, suggesting that the child’s secure attachment is a mediator of that link.” When mothers are more nurturing, children become more compliant or willing and yielding to parental guidance. Nurturing “refers to a number of parenting behaviors including attachment, warmth, support, recognizing the individuality of each child, and attending to children’s needs” (Dollahit, 2000, p. 70). Mothers help to shape the child and raise the child to become a competent adult.
Parenting’s influence on the parents
Parenting not only prepares children to become successful members of society, but helps parents be successful members and discover themselves. In a United Families International article “The Tragedy of ‘Bare Branches,’” they describe common characteristics of “bare branches,” men in China without wives or children:
- Belong to predominantly the lowest socioeconomic class
- More likely to be underemployed or unemployed
- Transient with few ties to the community
- Transient males that commit proportionately more violence than non-transient males
- Live and socialize with other bare branches, creating distinctive bachelor subcultures
- Commit more violence-often under the influence of alcohol and certain drugs
- Predisposed to risk taking (Valerie Hudson, 2004 “Bare Branches”)
Men who are attached to wives and children would have a greater likelihood of contributing to society, rather than causing society to suffer. W. Bradford Wilcox and Elizabeth Marquardt (2011) states, “57 percent of married mothers and 45 percent of married fathers strongly agree that their life has an ‘important purpose,’ compared to 40 percent of childless wives and 35 percent of childless husbands.” Parenting gives greater purpose and meaning to couples. Researcher Ellen Galinsky is quoted as saying:
Taking care of a small, dependent, growing person is transforming, because . . . it exposes our vulnerabilities as well as our nobility. We lose our sense of self, only to find it and have it change again and again. . . . We figure out how we want to interpret the wider world, and we learn to interact with all those who affect our children. . . . Often our fantasies are laid bare, our dreams are in a constant tug of war with realities. And perhaps we grow. In the end, we have learned more about ourselves, about the cycles of life, and humanity itself (Dollahit, 2000, p. 73).
Married parents may find themselves with past dreams unrealized, but with a changing understanding of themselves and the world around them.
Without children, society struggles. As D. Feder (2012) says, “What is often overlooked is that the children of today are the workers, producers, consumers, innovators, care-givers and taxpayers of tomorrow – those whose payments keep pension plans solvent, who care for patients in the nursing homes, keep the streets safe, safeguard the nation, operate factories and farms and keep lights on all over the world.” If parents don’t live up to their social responsibilities in raising their children than what kind of individuals are caring for the patients in nursing homes and keeping the streets safe?
If couples choose not to even have children than who will fulfill those future jobs? “We live in what can only be called an anti-child culture. Children are seen as a burden, rather than a joy and a blessing. We are told that children are an obstacle to life’s primary goals – pleasure and self-fulfillment” (Feder, 2012). If children aren’t born and cared for by both a mother and father, how will the nation suffer? Feder (2012) says, “Unless the catastrophic trend of declining fertility is halted and reversed, the mighty industrial engine we’ve built over the past two centuries will grind to a halt and slowly rust.” There would be less innovation with less people. There would be fewer political leaders with less individuals. The economy would suffer.
Mothers and fathers are vital to a healthy society. Children without either a mother or a father struggle to become psychological adjusted adults that contribute to the further development of society. Couples without children might be directing their attention to the current society in hopes of making a lasting effect, but children are a sure and effective way of serving the future society and making a difference. Children become the adults that guide and support the society of tomorrow. Let’s not forget them.
Alexandria Christensen is a student at Brigham Young University–Idaho majoring in Marriage and Family Studies with a minor in English. She is originally from Modesto, CA, but she and her husband are now living in Idaho.
Kendra Mayo is a student at Brigham Young University-Idaho majoring in Child Development. She is originally from Orlando, FL.
De Luccie, M. F. (1995). Mothers as gatekeepers: A model of maternal mediators of father involvement. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 156(1), 115.
Deutsch, F. M. (2001). Equally shared parenting. Current directions in psychological science, 10(1). Pp. 25-28. doi:http://www.jstor.org/stable/20182685
Dollahite, D. C. (2000). Strengthening our families: An in-depth look at the proclamation on the family. Salt Lake City, UT: Publishers Printing.
Fagan, P. F. (1995, Mar 17). The real root causes of violent crime: The breakdown of marriage, family, and community. The Heritage Foundation. doi:http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/1995/03/bg1026nbsp-the-real-root-causes-of-violent-crime
Feder, D. (2012). The Cultural Roots of Demographic Winter. Retrieved from WPF Dialogue of Civilizations website: http://wpfdc.org/society/1031-the-cultural-roots-of-demographic-winter
Kochanska, G. (1997). Mutually responsive orientation between mothers and their young children: Implications for early socializataion. Child Development, 68(1), 94. doi: http://web.ebscohost.com.byui.idm.oclc.org/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=38d60606-583f-43c8-8284-1ecb5d073528%40sessionmgr4&vid=2&hid=21
The tragedy of “bare branches.” United Families International. (2010, Jan 26). doi:http://unitedfamilies.org/default.asp?contentID=374
Steinberg, L. (2004). The ten basic principles of good parenting. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster Paperbacks.
Wilcox, W. B. and Marquardt, E. When baby makes three: How parenthood makes life meaningful and how marriage makes parenthood bearable. The state of our unions: Marriage in America 2011. Charlottesville, VA: The National Marriage Project. pp. 1-59. doi:http://nationalmarriageproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Union_2011.pdf