Structural types of a modern family and their problems.
Family is very important to every person. Belonging to a family is one bond almost everyone in the world shares. One sign that this is true is that people usually show great concern about the family as an institution.
There are many different types of families. While most families are traditional, comprising a father, a mother and one or more children some of them are headed by one parent, usually a woman. In a few families there are no children. These childless couples may believe that they would not make good parents, they may want freedom from the responsibilities of children; or perhaps, they are not physically able to have children. Other families have one adult who is a stepparent. A stepmother or stepfather is a person who joins a family by marrying a father or mother.
People tolerate and accept these different types of families. In many countries, people have the right to privacy and they do not believe in telling other ones what type of family group they must belong to. They respect each other's choices regarding family groups, Families are very important to everyone. One sign that this is true is that people show great concern about the family as an institution. Many believe there are too many divorces. They worry that teenagers are not obeying their parents. They are concerned about whether working women can properly care for their children. They also worry that too many families live in poverty.
Newspaper, motion pictures and television shows highlight difficulties within families. Family crimes, problems and abuse become news stories. But most families do not experience these troubles. Since the earliest days people have been predicting the decline of the family.
Families serve many functions. They provide a setting in which children can be bom and reared. Families help educate their members. Parents teach their children values - what they think is important. They teach their children daily skills, such as how to ride a bicycle. They also teach them common practices and customs, such as respect for elders and celebrating holidays. Some families provide each member a place to earn money, however, most people earn money outside the home. The most important job for a family is to give emotional support and security.
Families in a fast-paced, urban, country face many difficulties, adjust to the pressures of modern society by changing. These changes are not necessarily good or bad. They are simply the way people adjust to their world.
The family unit is still the basic living arrangement for most people. But for more and more people this definitely means the nuclear family. It is unusual already for adults of different generations within the family to live together. Very few children now grow up in large families and more and more adults are living along. Besides today people are getting married later than they used to. Some women and men are delaying marriage and family because they want to finish university or start their careers. Even women more and more often put aside their role in the society in order to make a career or to satisfy with their own life.
Nowadays most women work outside their homes. There are two reasons why mothers and wives work. One reason is that there are many opportunities for women. The other one is to support their families. The majority of women work because it is an economic necessity. Men worked, work and will work to support their families. So what is the result of both parents working? When both parents work they have less time to spend with their children and with each other. At the same time the majority of men and women say that they prefer a marriage in which the husband and wife share responsibilities for home jobs. They prefer a marriage in which the husband and the wife talk about their problems and solve them before they get too big. Members of strong families are committed to one another, show each other affection and appreciation.
Many marriages today fail and end in divorce. This does not mean that couples donít believe in marriage. It simply means that they are giving up being married to a particular individual. Most people who get divorced marry again and live together without being married.
Children and TV.
Watching television over a long span seriously damages children's ability to think clearly and the exposure to TV sensationalism robs youngsters of childhood.
It's turning out to be a disastrous influence, at least as far as we can determine at present. Television appears to be shortening the attention span of the young as well as eroding, to a considerable extent, their linguistic powers and their ability to handle mathematical symbolism. Even more serious, in my view, is that television is opening up all of society's secrets and taboos, thus erasing the dividing line between childhood and adulthood.
I call television the "first curriculum" because of the amount of attention our children give to it. By now, the basic facts are known by almost everyone: between the ages of 6 and 18, the average child spends roughly 15,000 to 16,000 hours in front of a television set, whereas school probably consumes no more than 13,000 hours. Moreover, it is becoming obvious that there really is no such thing as "children's" programming. Between midnight and 2 in the morning there are something like 750,000 children throughout America watching television every day. There's a fantasy people have that after 10 p.m. children aren't watching television; that's nonsense.
Many parents, as well as educators, also have the mistaken belief that television is an "entertainment medium" in which little of enduring value is either taught by or learned from it. Television has a transforming power at least equal to that of the printing press and possibly as great as that of the alphabet itself.
Television is essentially a visual medium. It shows pictures moving very rapidly and in a very dynamic order. Although human speech is heard on television, it is the picture that always contains the most important meanings.
Television can never teach what a medium I like a book can teach, and yet educators are always trying, to pretend that they can use television to promote the cognitive habits and i the intellectual discipline that print promotes. In this respect they will always be doomed to failure. Television is not a suitable medium for conveying ideas, because an idea is essentially language - words and sentences.
The code through which television communicates - the visual image - is accessible to everyone. Understanding printed words must be learned; watching pictures does not require any learning. As a result, TV is a medium that becomes intelligible to children beginning at about the age of 36 months. From this very early age on, television continuously exerts influence.
For the reason, I think it's fair to say that TV, as a curriculum, moulds the intelligence and character of youth far more than formal schooling. Beyond that, evidence is accumulating that TV watching, hurts academic performance. A recent California Department of Education survey indicated that the more children sit in front of the television, the worse they do on achievement-test scores.
What emerges most clearly from the mass of figures of numerous surveys is that parents exercise little control over their childrenís viewing, even when it worries them. They throw the onus on the programme makers, which is both cowardly and irresponsible. The people who make and schedule programmes should not be the ones who have to worry about little children being upset.
Much I am personally for some sort of indication given to parents as to the suitability of programmes. While children cannot be prohibited from viewing at home by anyone except their parents, as they can be an X certificate in the cinema, there is a precedent for guidance in another way. Adopting an R for Restriction recommended to be clearly attached to tricky titles in programme journals and in on-air trailers, would be immense assistance to responsible parents, and would encourage those who are less keen to take their job of guiding the young seriously.
I'm not criticizing television for that. I'm saying that's what television does; that is the nature of the medium. Television, after all, does have a valuable capacity to involve people emotionally in its pictures.