Postmodernism: Everything is Different

“Daddy, things are different today from when you were little.” If I’ve heard that once, I’ve heard it a thousand times from my eight-year-old son Evan.

Of course, he’s right. Things are different.

When I was younger, if someone wanted to get in touch with me, they either had to come to my house or they had to call my house. After all, that’s where the telephone was located— hardwired into the wall! Nowadays, with cell phones, we are accessible just about everywhere we go.

Cars are smaller today. Planes go faster. The world really doesn’t feel nearly as big today as it did when I was younger.

Evan is right, “Things are different today.”

But, does being different make the things of today better than the things of yesterday? Not necessarily. They are just different.

Over the last 50 years or so, there has been a remarkable transformation in how children see their world and their parents—and in how parents see their children and understand how they should be raised. There’s no debating it: families are different today. Or, as many would claim, we are living in a postmodern world.

In many ways, this transformation has hit us in the home as much as anywhere else. In the past, the home and family were, as Christopher Lasch wrote, “a haven in a heartless world.” As a haven, the family shielded and protected family members from the evils and temptations of the outside world. The family was more concerned for each member than gaining a larger world view.

We didn’t have to look far to see how this attitude played out. We saw it on TV with shows like Leave it to Beaver or The Brady Bunch. Courts often ruled in favor of families. And, to be completely honest, all we really had to do was look at every other family in the neighborhood—it seemed that every family had the same views as our family. So, we knew our perception had to be reality!

But today, as Evan says, “is different.” And, he’s right. Clearly, the world is not as orderly and as logically organized as we once thought. Families have shifted. Today, there are all kinds of families: two parents working, single parent, blended, adopted children, co-parent, and on and on the list goes.

Families are no longer isolated from the larger community. Thanks to personal computers, the Internet, tablets, and cell phones, the workplace has moved into the homeplace. And, what used to be the homeplace, where children were taken care of, has now been moved to the workplace, thanks to childcare facilities.

TV brings the outside world (good, bad, and ugly) directly inside the living room. Social media invites everyone in the world to see our family up-close and personal.

These realities are here to stay. Well, as much as anything is here to stay. Changes will continue to take place. Families will change. Parents will change. So will children. By the time Evan is an adult and has his own children, he’ll hear the same words, “Daddy, things are different today from when you were little.”

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