Globalization presents families and children with a “multitude of changing challenges” and within the Asian family in particular, conflict between parents and children, acording to a new report from a research organisation. The Service and Research Institute on Family and Children (SERFAC) held its 13th International Conference on the Family in Bangkok, ending June 20, sponsored by the Vatican’s Pontificum Consilium de Cultura. The report presented at the meeting said that as family members spread across the world, “such rapidly changing and enlarging ecosystems cripple the family in carrying out its essential functions of child-bearing and nurturing, love and care for all its members.” SERFAC attributes the systemic weakening of the moral, spiritual, institutional and social fabric to increasing incidence of divorce, breakdowns in family relationships, feelings of meaningless and alienation, mental illness, delinquency, addiction and suicide. More than 130 experts at the five-day meeting heard that Asia is particularly affected by exposure to mass communications, internet and television advertising, which have children aspiring to lifestyles and goods often beyond the reach of their parents. This places pressure on child-parent relations and forces children to satisfy their own needs which can lead to “child prostitution, AIDS, overtly aggressive children and children with no respect for parental authority.” Globalization is fundamentally affecting the way that we operate and interact on a social level, SERFAC says. Catherine Bernard, founder-president-director of SERFAC, observes that the traditional family of the 1960s has evolved into what she has termed the ‘networked family’ of today. According to a SERFAC report: “The networked family destroys the identities of Asian people in terms of respect for seniority, eating behavior, traditions and religious values.” In order to offset the damaging impacts of globalization and technology, Bernard says parents should pay more attention to their kids, who must be taught ethical and religious values. She said traditional Asian parenting meant that parents were strict with their children, stressing limits along with personal and religious values. However Asian adults today adopt a more Western parenting style and provide more freedom to their children.
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