Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Street Wise = Alive

I'm still trucking along reading my Gen X book and had some more notes to jot down.

Couples and individuals undertook several different methods to ensure that they would not be kicking out any tots, no buns in the oven, no stork watching happening here. 1/4 of American women on oral contraceptives by 1980 and 10 million people had undergone surgical sterility during the 70's. Planned Parenthood also reversed it's position on abortion from being totally against it to being one of the procedures main proponents (Zero Population Growth speculated to have a hand in the turn-around).

"Society no longer seems to regard children as innocent or to see innocence as a positive characteristic", wrote David Elkind in All Grown Up. The prevailing thought was to expose children to the realities of the world in preparation for adulthood. "Perhaps we wouldn't be raising a generation of saints, went the idea, but at least our kids would have the necessary survival tools." This all relayed into the late-70's trend of rather young models (see Brooke Shields on the cover of Cosmo in 1981), Jodie Foster's explicit scenes in Taxi Driver, and Judy Blum's very realistic adolescent novels.

Divorce, of course, became rather commonplace to the extent that (coupled with the number of unwed mothers) 50% of Gen Xers spent some time living with a single parent. Children were thought of as super resilient and could rebound after a divorce, and as long as the parent was happy, that would come back and directly affect that child. However, psychiatrist Michael Rutter has shown that while children can withstand a single stressful experience they can't handle multiple ones (not the divorce, moving, new schools, new friends, etc).

Research shows:
*children of divorced/single parents upbringing have trouble making long-term commitments
*choose instant gratification over long term investments-has become national credo
*twice as likely to get divorced themselves
*boys without a father more likely to be delinquent no matter what the income level

1983 saw child support payment awarded at only $1430 a year per child and only on average $322 for black mothers. And even then very few got any actual money.
Yay Gen X!

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