Parents as Pals

Surveys show my generation reports stronger relationships with their parents than past generations. That is, my friends and I aren’t rebelling against our parents at all. Instead, we see them as friends. Our parents, however, saw their parents as anything but pals — it was a more conventional parent-child relationship.

This shift in attitudes seems to be peculating to the generation after me, too. When I talk to my 30-something year-old friends who have 5-6 year-old kids, they tell me they’d love to be friends with their children.

A University of Michigan survey showed that the average child now spends 31 hours a week with his mother, up from 25 hours a week in 1980. A ’97 Gallup survey said 96% of teenagers said they got along with their parents and roughly 75% of teens said they shared their parents’ general values. In 1974, on the other hand, a majority of teens told pollsters they could not "comfortably appraoch their parents with personal matters of concern." (Source: On Paradise Drive by David Brooks)

Parents as pals certainly raises some questions. How does the transmission of morals work in a more peer relationship? How does the institution of family change? We already see the habits of family change (less than half of American families eat together each night), and perhaps adjustments in the relationship amongst members is driving some of that.

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