Children need parents to survive. Parents need children to help them cope with the ephemeral nature of existence. Families exist in order to facilitate the growth and development of all family members so that societal values are propagated from generation to generation. There are direct connections between the needs of the child, the parent(s) and society. Children are fortunate when they are brought into the world by parents who are predisposed to love them. That love connection is evolution’s answer to the extended duration of helplessness that human children experience. The family’s purpose is not that experience of love; that love is the starting point for facilitating the emergence of an individual who is capable of working and participating in the community of our society and is capable of sharing with others in a way that is mutually meaningful. As parents it is your job to facilitate the growth of your child so that he/she is capable of pursuing a life that has realistic options for love, friendship, and work. As parents you have the right to continue to pursue those goals as well and it is part of the challenge of parenthood to achieve balance between the needs and desires of all its family members. Families do not function well when either parents or children are over-valued at the expense of the other. The most difficult and important challenge to manage with children is constructing a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly rhythm that accounts for the normative developmental needs of each of its members. That rhythm must be grounded in the realities of succeeding in contemporary society and in the core values of the family.
Contemporary society presents unique challenges to parents and families. The essential dynamic that is under continual scrutiny is the legitimate use of authority. As a society, we have witnessed a re-examination of foundational authority structures over the past fifty years. The loss of innocence exposed in our Presidents, the Vietnam War, the Women’s Movement, the Corporate scandals, Church scandals, Sports scandals, the denigration of compromise by politicians and the Age of Terrorism have all contributed to a landscape of distrust, frustration, anger, hopelessness, selfishness, distraction, sensation-seeking and revenge. As parents we are expected to navigate through this mindfully while fostering an authentic sense of hope and meaning about the future. It is, indeed, a heroic undertaking to avoid a global cynicism that masks our own frustration and confusion and that can leave our children floundering for meaning and vulnerable to sensation-seeking consumerism that is the primary marinade of our children’s mass media, pop culture.