Parenting Paradox

Expanding fields of study have exponentially complicated the parental role. Centuries ago, raising a child to teenage years was perceived as phenomenal caregiving. Now, in order for a child to compete in the job market, they need to integrate with the internet and smartphone technologies. Social media companies like Facebook and its subsidiaries are here to stay; and they’re constantly augmenting to grow their user base. 

The amount of sensory stimuli from modern marketing has reached unprecedented heights, and the lasting effects haven’t been realized (4K TVs look clearer than real life). However, the ubiquitous nature of marketing is desensitizing Gen Y (1980-1994). So, as the size and complexity of our population increases, marketers will have to be more targeted with their advertisements. Parents must communicate the underlying messages of marketing (e.g., sex, status, and security), to prepare their children for the media barrage. Also, the brands that parents choose for their children will influence which tribes they join.

Communicating the truth in this era is challenging. Yet, the life sciences can tell us a lot about the development of our species. If science has established a solid theoretical precedent (bacteria and viruses are real), the burden falls on parents to ensure that their child receives accurate information regarding their biological and environmental composition (that wasn’t supposed to sound so subversive). There are tons of rules and limitations in life; success requires a basic understanding of the rules, and then proper training to execute specific tasks effectively (e.g., nutrition, exercise, psycho-social health).

The complexities of our modern society, and forecasting biases, have made the parental role paradoxical. (A forecasting bias occurs when there are consistent differences between actual outcomes and previously generated forecasts of those quantities; that is: forecasts may have a general tendency to be too high or too low.)

Parents are fallible, and they’re forced to make decisions based on incomplete information. They draw from experiences during their upbringing, and fill holes with whatever the current literature dictates. For example, when an individual who experienced abuse from an alcoholic parent talks to their child about drinking (the grandchild of the abuser), they will probably discourage them from drinking alcohol. However, while enforcing abstinence, the child might rebel against the parent, consume alcohol, and have a great fucking time—just like good ol’ Grandpappy. So, strict parental enforcement might have a boomerang effect (the adoption of the taboo; maybe out of spite). 

Everyone knows that parenting is an imperfect art, but honestly, it appears to involve a lot of luck (good genes and a safe neighborhood are extremely helpful, too).

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