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Separation of Children & Adults

Cornell University’s Urie Bronfenbrenner cites nine specific changes that have taken place during the past generation which have increasingly separated children and youth from the world of adults, especially the adults in their own families:

1. fathers’ vocational choices which remove them from the home for lengthy periods of time

2. an increase in the number of working mothers

3. a critical escalation in the divorce rate

4. a rapid increase in single-parent families

5. a steady decline in the extended family

6. the evolution of the physical environment of the home (family rooms, playrooms and master bedrooms)

7. the replacement of adults by the peer group

8. the isolation of children from the work world

9. the insulation of schools from the rest of society

This last factor has caused Bronfenbrenner to describe the current U.S. educational system as “one of the most potent breeding grounds for alienation in American society.” When he wrote these words in 1974, this trend toward isolation was in full swing, and it has not been significantly checked since that time.

Mark DeVries, Family-Based Youth Ministry, (Downers Grove, IL, InterVarsity Press, 1994, p. 37

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