Father Knows Best?

Speaking of Brian Williams…I don’t mean to pile on, but I was reading about this BEFORE he got really famous for his war stories…

A recent US Magazine article recounted a weird and disturbing story about the father-daughter relationship between NBC news anchor Brian Williams and his actor daughter Allison Williams. She’s currently acting in a very popular HBO cable series. The interviewer asked Mr. Williams his reaction to watching his daughter performing in a pornographic raunchy sex scene during a public premier viewing of the show. He brushed it off as just part of her job and nothing to be shocked about. He was coming off as the ultra-cool BFF-Dad.

I wonder what he really thinks? Are parents actually capable of turning their children over to any sort of depravity just to prop up an artificial friendship?

Social scientists who study the family tell us that for the past twenty years, parents have been spending a whole lot of their energy trying to become friends with their kids instead of playing out the traditional parent role. There are a number of reasons for this. Chief among them is the sheer lack of time that parents (40% are single parents) spend with their kids.* Who wants to use up that time enforcing rules or being a disciplinarian? Today’s hurried single parent wants to have positive time, building a loving relationship, squeezed in between school, practices, homework and social media.

We’ve invented a world of work that isn’t situated between 9-5. Technology has broken down barriers meant to keep us safe at home raising our families. Now we jump to work at the sound of the next beep. Our fractured families are equally ill-equipped to manage the overbooked lives of our children. The family has been fractured by broken relationships AND intrusive commitments from outside (too much homework, too much work/work, too much extracurricular careers). The parent-child relationship is being fractured because of a new family life that’s filled with busy-ness that turns parents and children into managers, customers, performers and clients when they relate with one another.

Children today and teenagers tomorrow need parents. Families need a parent-child relationship so that real people are nurtured and meaningful relationships are formed. They even need parents who would be horrified to see them performing soft-core porn on HBO.

*Some recent surveys seem to indicate that parents today spend as much if not more time with their children as parents of yesterday did. But when we dig a little deeper we discover that it’s not the same kind of time. It’s time watching from a distance at practice, sitting in the same room watching different entertainment programs and driving carpools of kids around the city.

About Randy Wilson

Professor of Sociology at Houston Baptist University I read, think and write about religion and culture in the United States. It's very interesting and very complicated but incredibly exciting. For many years I have been trying to figure out how people learn best (my students and myself). The classes I teach are always in a state of experimentation - trying to reorganize around what students bring to the table and where we have to go.

One thought on “Father Knows Best?

  1. This guy is a piece of work. This really strikes a nerve with me. Let me just say ditto! All points are Very well stated.

    Sent from my iPhone

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