Academic journal article Family Relations

The Ties That Stress

Academic journal article Family Relations

The Ties That Stress

Article excerpt

Elkind, David. (1994). The Ties That Stress. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 260 pp. Hardcover ISBN 0-674-89149-X, price $19.95.

The Ties That Stress is a presentation of the historical, familial, and social forces that create imbalance in the postmodern family. Relative to the imbalance in the modern family, Elkind makes a convincing argument that the new family imbalance is costly to our children. In the modern nuclear family, the author suggests that parents' roles clearly distinguished them from their children. Contracts between parents and children were based on a clear authority of the parents. On the balance, the family was child centered, and togetherness was highly valued. This system was by no means perfect, but Elkind argues that parents bore the brunt of the stresses in the modern family.

In contrast, the postmodern permeable family experiences less distinction between the roles of parents and children. The value of togetherness has been superceded by the value of autonomy. Postmodern forces create a perception among parents and society that children are competent and sophisticated and are less in need of guidance and protection from and more capable of sharing authority with their parents. The result, according to Elkind, is a disproportionate amount of stress on children.

The outcomes for our young people include increased pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections and increased homicide and suicide. Although the statistics of this "new morbidity" have been presented time and again, Elkind has placed them in a context of the historical, social, and familial forces, which contributes to a more complete understanding of their causes. …

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