Parents Can't Get No Respect!

Have you noticed how hard it is to find well-mannered young folks with deference to authority?

On our daily walk, my wife and I were discussing some incidents we had observed. Most recently, she had been working with a group of preschoolers for which she is a volunteer reader. Certain members of her group repeatedly attempted to tell teachers what to do and when. They showed absolutely no patience for delayed gratification.  I don't think that's uncommon anymore.

Maybe it's an artifact of the modern two-earner family, where parenting is squeezed in-and-around job responsibilities and whatever social enjoyments young parents may be able to keep up.

Maybe it's an artifact of the modern one-parent household, where a single parent attempts to act as both, as well as maintain a job and a home.

But I've got another idea: maybe it's an artifact of modern humor!

When my kids were small, Brenda and I read to them constantly. One of their favorite series was The Berenstain Bears. I remember grouching that anytime the little bears needed a bad example, all they had to do was observe their dad. Papa Bear eternally exhibited heedless behavior which Mama then had to gently correct and thus show the young bears how they should behave, in situations ranging from keeping a tidy room to withholding negative judgments on bears who were not well-liked.  As a dad myself, I didn't like the use of Papa Bear as a frequent negative example.

Now, I've not studied the topic scientifically, but... after talking on our walk, I came back, unfolded the comics in today's paper (which in our town are a measly single page!), and wrote down this list of daily comic strips that routinely portray the family father as the clueless, shiftless, feckless, thoughtless, or silly one of the family: Blondie, Marvin, For Better or Worse, Dustin, Sally Forth, Baby Blues, Hagar the Horrible, Snuffy, and Zits. If you want to include mothers of that description, some of those and perhaps one or two more would qualify.

Why do we find parents (especially fathers) behaving badly (or uncool) funny?  When did that trend start?

And what are we teaching kids about having respect for their parents?