3. The Modern Family
For the most part, families today do not have the togetherness, the common purpose of families in former years. There are exceptions, to be sure. Certain religious groups encourage not only family togetherness but also communal responsibility for other members of their church society.
Today many, if not most, children are often physically separated from grandparents, from aunts and uncles, from cousins by hundreds arid often thousands of miles. Divorce has cast many children upon the winds of conflict and chance.
Even the immediate unit consisting of two parents and their children has changed. Over fifty percent of the mothers of America have deserted what has long been considered the normal biological role of mothers: nurturing, instructing, disciplining, feeding, loving of the children they give birth to, in favor of personal enlargement, economic security, and the tangible assets which give pleasure and comfort; they have exchanged the more traditional role for a nicer house in which to live, a better neighborhood, a more elite school for their children, more expensive clothing, amusements of choice. The considered welfare of their children’s physical, mental and moral growth is exchanged, more often than not, for things. Of course, this is not true of all working mothers—many of them are forced into the work force because one income in the family no longer covers the family’s basic needs.
One of the major changes we have observed is in the care and concern for the well-being of the children within the family unit. While emotional concern, affection and a certain amount of support are more usual than the lack of such, this being, of course, a variable from family to family, the actual caretaking of the physical bodies of children and their education in all areas of possible development has largely been relegated to outside agencies: the nursery and preschool, the public school, or the church and other specialized schools wherein the child is more or less compelled to fit into the mold of a prescribed educational, moral and physical pattern for development which is geared to an accepted “norm.” They become robots within a stylized society.
To a great extent, also, the transmission of traditional values, cultures and customs, the knowledge and experience of the elder members of the family and of society at large has been viewed of lesser importance as children have been turned over to public agencies of one kind or another: Boy Scouts, Little Leagues, the Y.M. and Y.W.C.A.s, to various therapists of one kind or another, to youth camps, to leaders of summer programs, etc. As a result, a rather peripatetic social and educational environment has become an accepted pattern for living.
Children are rarely permitted to be simply children—they must always be doing. Shelton points out that this is highly stressful to young bodies in the process of maturing. The traditional or physical value of what they do is not deeply considered. It is the doing of some THING that is of immediate concern. What the final outcome of this stress exposure upon future generations will be will remain for time to reveal.
3.1 Other Influences
Additionally, from the time they can toddle, children are greatly influenced by their peers because they are in such constant contact with them. This was not so in the past when children lived close to the family’s private home. They are also greatly impacted by the visible mass media: by television especially.
Children today are constantly pursued by billions of dollars of demographically formulated visual messages and spoken words. For purposes of profit they are literally placed under planned mind control.
Early in life they are hampered by food to which their bodies are not adapted, their nervous systems become titillated and stressed by sugar and devastated by an avalanche of chemical additives.
Teenagers are notoriously influenced by their peers and, in the majority of cases, more so than by family attitudes and customs. However, peer pressure is exerted not only upon them but also upon all other members of the family including the parents. Young parents especially tend to behave just as their friends behave. They tend to want the same comforts their friends have, they want to socialize in all particulars much as their friends do. This includes serving broadly the same kinds of foods their neighbors and friends serve. In other words, they opt for the peer pattern because they do not want to seem “weird” to their peers. Like children, the majority of adults also crave peer acceptance and find comfort and a sense of social acceptance in it which is important to them.
Young children learn in nursery and preschool that certain things taste “good.” Therefore, these are the foods they expect and want to eat, taste being a learned thing. They also learn how to interact with their peers and to mimic their behavior because they, too, like their elders, want to be a part of the whole. Some 17 million children under the age of six years are now in these facilities.
From the very young, up to and including the younger college crowd, most children are exposed more or less constantly to a wide variety of unHygienic foods and practices as, for example, being kept indoors for many hours, their little bodies bent over desks encapsulating the lungs, heart and other abdominal organs and causing spines to curve and twist. They are compelled to drink contaminated tap water instead of having access to pure distilled water. They have little exercise and learn nothing about their bodies and its needs or of how best to meet those needs. School lunches are in most cases a health hazard.
Most children today, with or without the knowledge and consent of their parents, have free access to drugs and alcohol both in and out of the home. Parents have been known to feed even infants on beer and wine, so lacking are they in intelligent awareness of life’s realities.
Almost all children today are required by law to be “immunized” against one or more diseases and by this false practice and by the continued pushing of drugs by “authorities,” they become preprogrammed for future disease and premature death. Children revelling in luxuriant metabolism are given medically-prescribed pacifiers by nurses in public schools and even in preschool. Outside of the school drugs are more or less freely disseminated to children of all ages by their peers (even below the junior high grade) or by outside pushers of death who are themselves addicts.
Children of today are not taught that the only possible result of error is pain and suffering, both of the physical body and also of all perceptual faculties.
Because of the frenzied lifestyle of working parents, the fact that mothers and fathers alike subject themselves to the stress of competing in a highly-competitive, self-oriented and confused society for the sole purpose of fulfilling falsely established values of comfort and physical excellence, the relaxed environment established by the gathering of the family around the dinner table at the end of the day is rarely experienced by today’s children. Instead, the members of the family eat “on the run,” either from the refrigerator or alone at one of the popular fast-food franchise restaurants following which they often wend their separate ways to a diversity of activities. They have relatively few opportunities to meet as a family on common ground for quiet discussion, training, passing on of either values or experiences or for addressing either the individual concerns or matters of common import.
We think our teenagers are in danger. They are impacted on all sides by unHygienic customs and practices. The family is of lesser concern to them than their peer buddies. We will address these areas of interest more in depth in Lesson 82. But, younger children in these days are also threatened. All Hygienists must be keenly aware of the fact that Hygienic parents living in a modern setting must cope with current value systems as to accepted training and behavior. This is no mean task. All Hygienists must be acutely conscious of the fact that changes in the training and care of young children are mandatory if the teenagers of tomorrow are to have any chance of resisting the temptations to error always present in any society.
How to effect the early education which will provide the foundation of knowledge and training in correct Hygienic principles and practices is, we believe, a proper subject to be addressed. Practitioners are often called upon to work with an entire family because they have worked with one member of the family. We will frequently be called upon to guide and direct parents who are striving desperately to provide for their children the best of life and to nurture them well. We will be called upon to influence the young as well as the elderly, to guide young adults striving for a better life for themselves, for their children and for their mates. The family unit can be a vehicle to influence mankind for generations to come. The words of life spoken by one Hygienic practitioner can ring the message of health for centuries to come. When we are many, we can influence the world.
3.1 Maladaptive Behavior Responses
There is one aspect of family togetherness which has not, to our knowledge, received much attention in Hygienic literature but one which, unfortunately, has become a matter of grave concern in today’s society. We are talking about maladaptive responses to the multiple stress which bombard people on all sides and in all socioeconomic strata.
Maladaptive responses to stress can be of many kinds but generally involve some form of dangerous behaviors. We have previously said in this lesson that most children, for example, are emotionally well nourished but there is another side of the picture because, in reality, over one-half of America’s families are exposed to some abnormal behavior responses which can adversely affect the progress of individual members of a family and of the family as a unit. Many of these harmful behaviors occur repeatedly within the family unit itself and unless the practitioner becomes alert to the possibility that such does exist and that it can and will affect his effectiveness in working with a particular family, he may flounder and become uncertain about his own expertise.
We refer to such matters as abuse of children within the home by one or both parents, to sexual abuse of the wife by the husband and, less frequently, of, the husband by the wife; alcoholism, drug abuse, incest, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, and a wide variety of abuses which we can classify under the term “neglect.”
There can be emotional neglect, as in the ignoring of a child who would like to discuss something with his father but the father is “too busy” and concerned about the economic welfare of his family to take time out to listen to the “chatter” of a child who may be greatly distressed by a situation or problem of major concern to him.
There can be physical neglect in that the parents do not provide for comfort or for such necessities of organic existence as the obtaining of sufficient exercise by the child but permit him to watch television for hours on end.
There can be permissive neglect, with the parents failing to oversee the behavior and other habits of the child as, for example, letting the child have access to junk food because he “wants” it; or not knowing what the child does with his free time because the parents are too involved in their own social and business activities.
Obviously the range of problem behavioral responses can be extensive. If s/he is to be effective in working with family situations, the practitioner must be ever alert to the possibility that some such assaults may be present and that if they exist, they can have a profound effect on future progress of the client.
One such assault will be present in just about every case that comes to the attention of a practicing Hygienist. We refer, of course, to the fact that previous treatment can be a major part of the existing problem. Drugs may have and most certainly will have affected the physical wellness of the client. Of that, we are certain. But, we must become more aware of the fact that all drugs (and we are including such drugging treatment as the use of sugar, condiments, supplements, social drugs, etc.) will also influence adversely and to a greater or lesser extent, the nervous system.
Individual members of the family may be so neurotic from and dependent upon drugs that there is a “run-off” which affects the entire family. When this kind of abnormal behavior continues, other members of the family often respond in some form of emotional immaturity and lose self-control. This is often when some form of abuse rears its ugly head.
As practitioners we must learn to get along well with people, to be sure, but we must also learn to face the realities of life. Our effectiveness, our true worth as counselors, will be shown not only in how well we analyze the immediate problems of an individual client and strive to find an appropriate solution, but also in how experienced we become in searching out and definitizing those extraneous causes, happenings and experiences, that may directly or indirectly determine his progress in a negative way. Maladaptive behavioral responses by any other member of the immediate family may be such a hidden cause that must first be uncovered before any meaningful progress can take place.
In dealing with children, especially younger children, the practitioner should be on the alert for physical evidence of abuse, such signs as wounds, unusual skin discolorations, teariness, neurotic or hyper kinetic behavior, and so on. One must be tactful and diplomatic when one suspects child abuse, not hesitating to probe it, but doing so quietly arid in subtle ways. Remember that much can be learned by, listening, listening not only to a parent but also to children either by words or by body movements in response to questions. Darting of the eyes toward or away from a parent may often provide a clue under a given set of circumstances. As the practitioner works at his practice, he will become more in tune with the possible hidden areas of family life.
We suggest that the practitioner begin a study, if he has not already done so, of abnormal psychology. Your local librarian will be happy to recommend some suitable books for you to study. The time you spend in this regard will be of immense value to you in your practice. It will certainly make you increasingly more aware of human frailties, possible perversions as they may be practiced, and also of certain characteristic but abnormal stress responses.
All such observations must, of course, initially be kept private. If the behavior pattern of concern involves the child, it may correctly be brought to the attention of the parent. Children may be reluctant to reveal, for one reason or another, abuse by parents and when you do become aware of such, your knowledge should not necessarily be imparted immediately to the parent; i.e., he should not necessarily be confronted with it. Children often have vivid imaginations. Some merely wish to attract attention or to “get even” with a parent for some imagined hurt. Once the abusive behavior has been determined without any possible doubt still existing, then it should be addressed and, if possible, resolved in a way conducive to the best interests of all members of the family. In other words, be sure of the evidence before you act.
To illustrate just how far hidden family abuse may go, we cite a true story of sexual abuse of children. A number of years ago we served as counselors at a reformatory for young girls. One very pretty young girl, aged about 14, came to us voluntarily, in search of “someone to talk to.” She told us of how when she was twelve years of age, her mother compelled her to have sex with her father because “mom was too tired all the time.” Within a year, the mother was inviting men into the house, for a fee, for sex parties with this young girl as the victim. She was warned not to tell anyone for fear of actual physical punishment.
On the surface, this family appeared to be just like every other family in the neighborhood. The false facade of respectability was carefully maintained. It was not penetrated until the girl, at the age of fourteen, ran away from home and was picked up by the civil authorities as a “prostitute.” Then the whole sordid story came out.
As practitioners, we must, of course, be aware of the surface causes, but let us be equally aware of the fact that there can also be hidden causes of any diseased state. More often than not, it is comparatively easy to determine the more obvious causes, whether they be emotional in kind, poison habits of one kind or another, deficiencies or excesses in lifestyle or diet; but don’t forget the very real possibility that there may also be undercurrents such as we have described, and many more, which can hamper future progress.
A final point in our immediate discussion, but one which will arise from time to time, is that of “negativity.” Beginning practitioners are often astounded at how many of their clients will be without hope, of how many parents will have negative thoughts about their children, and, even more tragic, how many children think ill of themselves.
We think this negative attitude toward life in general, to problems of immediate concern and to their prospects for recovery, often dates back to childhood. Parents should be schooled in relating positively to their children and to encourage what we like to call the “Positivities” in one’s life. As practitioners, we must always be imbued with the magic of what is possible through the application of Natural Hygiene /both in our own lives and in the lives of those who consult with us. When we are able to get across to the troubled ones this sense of the “Possible—Probables Magic,” we can often just relax and watch it unfold!
3.2 A Clarification
For purposes of clarification we have decided to divide our discussion into segments, to address problems as they may arise for the practitioner from time to time among certain age groups as the individual members may interact with one another as members of a family. We do so fully realizing that similar problems and concerns can and do arise in all groupings and that the specific examples and solutions put forth can have a far broader implication and application than the immediate ones addressed in this limited discussion.
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Influencing Factors
- 3. The Modern Family
- 4. The Newly Married
- 5. The Infant And The Family
- 6. Adults Within The Family
- Article #1: Feeding Diapers By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
- Article #2: Introducing Grandchildren To Hygienic Living
- Article #3: How We Can Stimulate Our Children’s Physical Development By Chuck and Mimi Young
- Article #4: Avoiding Compulsory Immunization By Dr. Christopher Kent