A report by the Federal Trade Commission alarmed parents when it revealed that entertainment companies were targeting children in their ads of violent, Rated-R films. Even more frightening is the fact that these very companies actually held focus groups of nine to ten year-olds. But the truth is that most children are viewing violent and disturbing images and clips while at home as well. Such images and clips are being shown during shows such as “Smackdown!”, where one might expect them to be shown, but they are also being shown on ads run between shows such as “Seventh Heaven” and in magazines such as “Cosmopolitan”. Many of the most popular shows for eleven to eighteen year-olds feature provocative material, often sexual or violent.
There is a worry that parenting is becoming a lost art. In other words, the flood of adult material may be too much of a bother for parents to deal with. It is much easier just to try to keep children out of rated-R movies than to go all out and try to keep them away from related material. While many parents struggle to keep their children away from the bombardment of adult material, others seem to be treating their children more like friends or peers, allowing their children to set their own bedtimes. Though this latter style of parenting may lead to short-term solutions, it is questionable whether these parents are really teaching their children how to live meaningful lives. Even educators have names parents as a main problem to teaching children to be successful. Educations only have so much time with children. Parents bear the brunt of the responsibility.
The rise in the number of peer-parents may be a reason for the recent increase in number of suspensions in schools. Many children are bossing their parents around. When the parents backtalk their children, the children respond with outbursts such as “I hate you”. Parents who lose control of their children may be failing to teach them how to succeed in the real world. These children may be more likely to be disruptive in school and less focused on success in school. Companies have recognized this trend in children and market to their rebellious attitudes with clothing lines such as “Brat”. While many may be quick to blame companies for propagating these attitudes to children, companies sell products to markets. And if there is a market to support these attitudes, it was not created by the companies, but allowed to occur in part because of peer-parenting.
The events displays in the show “The Lost Children of Rockdale County” are an extreme case of children having way too much power over their parents. In this show, young children, many of which were around 13-years-old, commonly engaged in orgies and other sexually deviant behavior. It was not uncommon for children in this show to have 50 partners. These events were exposed to the public because a case of syphilis broke out that affected 200 teenagers. Though this may be an extreme case, these results are indicative of the peer-parenting mentality. When children are allowed to do whatever they want and are not properly taught the consequences of their actions, terrible outcomes may result. The parents of these children were perfectly ordinary. They were not themselves deviant. Still, the lax parenting style exhibiting by the whole group led to an STD outbreak in teenagers.
One of the problems with the peer-parenting schema is that there is a culture of youth worship. Baby-boomers are thought to be the eternal teenagers, and it seems hypocritical to many of them to be harsh to their children. Also, for many parents the proper values to teach cannot be identified and may not be worth teaching to their children. Without parents defining a moral universal for their kids, the children may grow up without a moral compass. The peer-parent relationship can have devastating consequences for children trying to make it on their own in the real world.