Thursday, January 25, 2007

Charles Sykes on the Modern Family

Charles Sykes is an incisive cultural critic. In A Nation of Victims, published in 1992, he offers the following thoughts that are relevant to this week's topic:

“In their eagerness to accommodate the needs of the new age, parents often willingly transferred the values of the therapeutic culture from the larger society to the family itself. Not only were children now accorded a standing once reserved for adults alone, but the family was increasingly expected to adopt the therapeutic values of “openness” and “sharing” that had once been reserved the controlled settings of psychotherapeutic counseling…

By transforming itself into a therapeutic entity, the modern family had eased the transition between traditional norms and the shifting values of society; it had erased the boundaries of particularity and idiosyncracy that had so often made the transition from childhood to adulthood awkward and painful. But by breaking down the walls that had shielded it from the outside world, the family had also robbed itself of the ability to provide a safe haven against shocks from without.”


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