[sixties-l] New era of snooping parents [60s parents] (fwd)

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Date: Fri Feb 22 2002 - 03:26:28 EST

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    Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2002 23:27:45 -0800
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: New era of snooping parents [60s parents]

    New era of snooping parents


    Research shows that people who came of age in the '60s are more
    conservative parents.

    By Daniel B. Wood | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
    February 21, 2002

    SHERMAN OAKS, CALIF. - Over three-bean salads and wheat-grass smoothies,
    mother and daughter Peltier are debating tough love.
    "I'll come out and say it: I read my daughter's e-mails and I check to see
    what websites she's visited," says Dorothy Peltier, as her 17-year-old
    suppresses a "don't embarrass me" scowl outside the Baja Fresh Cantina
    here. "I think the times demand it," says Mrs. Peltier, an unemployed broker.
    It is a trend that is growing. Mothers and fathers, barraged with accounts
    stretching from Columbine murder plans to post-9/11 copycat terrorism, say
    they're becoming more watchful of children in a new millennium where the
    standards of "normal" parenting can become shorthand for "negligent."
    In fact, experts say that strategies like Mrs. Peltier's, while not
    necessarily the norm, suggest the emergence of a tougher approach to
    discipline by many parents - particularly baby boomers. Ironically, this is
    the group that, as adolescents, was among the most promiscuous and libertine.
    The shift toward more surveillance and Sunday-school strictness could lead
    to a redefinition of privacy for some minors - from scrutinized diaries, to
    regular bedroom searches, to taped phone conversations. To detractors, it
    just reflects an age-old impulse by parents to overcontrol and micromanage
    their children's affairs - the parent as staff sergeant.
    "There is a movement afoot by parents trying to deal with the issue of
    their children running free and parents not being aware," says Michael
    Obsatz, a sociologist at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., and author
    of "Raising Non-violent Children in a Violent World." "In a world of
    increased availability of guns, drugs, violence, and media messages that
    normalize them, parents have gotten scared and are being more vigilant."
    This week in California, a new university study of parents who came of age
    in the 1960s found that many parents say they have rejected the values of
    experimenting with sex and drugs that they grew up with. They are
    unapologetically resorting to snooping tactics they would have abhorred in
    their youth.
    Can I see that diary, please?
    On one level, the about-face isn't surprising. Many parents naturally
    become more conservative as they grow older. The country, too, is more
    temperate today than it was in the tie-dyed ^A'60s.
    Plus technology - from the ubiquitous cellphone to instant messaging - has
    given youths an infinite number of ways to communicate and parents an
    infinite number of reasons to play I Spy.
    Yet much of the change in parental attitudes also reflects the dangers of
    the times, from AIDS to club drugs. Warning signals trickle out with
    regularity: the exposed drinking habits of Prince Harry of Britain, the
    Marin County youth who joins the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Florida teen
    who crashes a private plane into a Tampa high rise.
    "These parents are reading e-mails and diaries, searching rooms for drugs
    and any clue that indicates their child is leading a secret life," says
    Elaine Bell Kaplan, a sociologist at the University of Southern California
    who conducted the study. "They are constantly questioning and rethinking
    their parenting techniques. The increased scrutiny of their teens is more
    out of fear for their safety than nosiness."
    One mother says she hugs her son upon his return from school to smell for
    marijuana or alcohol. A father regularly eavesdrops on his teen's telephone
    conversations. Still other parents say monitoring personal writings is not
    off limits.
    "I guess my son didn't realize what you look up [on the Internet] will
    automatically be saved," said one mother. "I mean, it was mind boggling
    what he looked at. Some of the stuff was really sick stuff. They had
    pictures of the O.J. murders."
    The California study included white, Black, and Latino families, with
    incomes of $65,000 to $150,000 - and students of both public and private
    schools. Although the sample was limited to California, and does not
    indicate the habits of most American parents, observers say it indicates a
    shift in attitude about what is permissible and advisable by a sizable
    proportion of parents - perhaps 20 percent - as well as the direction more
    adults may follow.
    "There is a very definite subset of parents who know what they themselves
    got away with as kids," says Furman University psychologist Paul Rasmussen,
    "and feel that their children will not be so lucky as to dodge the same
    In Brookline, Mass., 40-something Roger Tackeff says of parenting his two
    pre-teen sons: "There is no question that we have much more control over
    our children than did our parents. My mother never asked if I was finished
    with my history homework ... never went to the school, and didn't know what
    was going on [with us]."
    St. Charles, Mo., resident Dennis O'Rando went to high school in the 1960s
    and admits to being very much a child of those self-indulgent times.
    "Anything you can imagine that went on, I was involved in just about all of
    it," says Mr. O'Rando, whose daughter is a high school senior.
    But "things we did back then you didn't die for," he says, referring to
    playground scuffles that can end in gunfire these days.
    For that reason, he doesn't feel guilty about occasionally searching his
    daughter's room - and even admits to having recorded several of her phone
    conversations in her wilder middle-school days. "If you're not aware of
    what's going on around you, you're asking for trouble."
    A wise watchfulness is one thing. But to psychologist Rasmussen, there is
    an "epidemic of parents who are becoming over-controlling." This
    micromanagement carries its own risk: that youths won't grow up to manage
    themselves later in life.
    The snooping approach may also face a backlash from kids who feel unfairly
    held to standards and behaviors their own parents could not meet.
    "Students finding out their own parents did the very acts they are now
    prevented from doing compromises parental effectiveness in the long run,"
    says James Weiss, a staff psychologist at Seton Hall University in South
    Orange, N.J. "The other problem is that these parents are operating without
    a model or a map. They are sort of shooting from the hip, not basing their
    ideas on any effective models."
                              Chill out there, dad
    If some parents are genuinely trying to chart a responsible course, others
    may be overstepping the bounds of good sense.
    The USC study recounts one mother who developed a "crazy mom" routine to
    control her son. When he was out past her curfew at a "drug party," she got
    into her car wearing pajamas, hair rollers, and slippers, stood on the lawn
    and yelled to her son: "Mark, Mark, here I am."
    "Parents who use humiliation as a discipline technique are often
    counterproductive," says Dr. Weiss.
    He counsels another technique that he says is far too underutilized in
    homes across America: genuine conversation. "When we work with these kids
    and parents to the point of sitting down and talking over these issues, we
    often find that such basic conversations have never even happened."
    Meaningful conversations, however, can be difficult to engineer. Greg and
    Kathy Wait of Palo Alto, Calif., came of age in the 1960s and now have a
    sophomore in high school.
    "He sasses more than I ever did," she says of her son. "I never would have
    told my mom to ^A'cool it.' But all his friends talk to their parents like
    that. I heard one cuss out his mother when she was five minutes late
    picking him up."
    But Mr. Wait thinks there's also a positive element in all the bluntness,
    at least minus the cussing. "One thing the kids have that's better than
    what we had is the ability to speak their minds to their parents and have
    us take them seriously," he says. "I simply didn't have that option."

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