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Parents as Failed Role Models: A Doll’s House and Fight Club Research Paper

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Updated: Jun 30th, 2020


As the world continues to usher in new generations, social, economic, and other demographic changes emerge. The current literature and empirical studies have focused on the significant socio-economic issues such as youth and development, women empowerment, gender parity, and empowerment of physically and mentally challenged.

According to Bempechat (43), family and youth studies, have continuously revolved around youth, children, or even teenagers with drug menace and parental responsibilities being at the centre stage.

Some researchers have argued that parental or family setting heavily influences the behavioral characteristics of individuals, while others believe acquaintances and peer group influence behaviors in children. Children behaviors and family responsiveness to the life of children has now dominated public debates, research studies, and the media as religious organizations and human rights organizations seem more worried about the issue.

Unfortunately, some parents have become failed role models in the society, which puts the future generation at risk because poorly mentored children translates to a poor and weak future generation. This essay seeks to investigate if parents have really become failed role models as shown in A Doll’s House and Fight Club.

A Doll’s House and Fight Club

A close look at the story of A Doll’s House reveals pertinent issues surrounding family matters pertaining to immorality and extravagancy as demonstrated by Nora (Ibsen 10). Two important women characters stand out in this play. Nora, the wife to Torvald Helmer and Christine Linde, a childless widow, are both seen desperately squandering money from other men outside the wedlock, and thus they commit adultery through secret affairs.

Surviving through controversial loans and secretly hiding money from her husband, Nora portrays childish behaviors to a point where her husband disregards her as the mother to his children. On the other hand, Fight Club, a 1996 masterpiece novel, brings an important theme about men’s lifestyles including drinking and drug taking. The characters in the novel become careless alcohol takers and engage in fights that form fight clubs spreading their dirty behaviors across the city.

Parents and children’s behavior

Human studies have significantly concluded that the environment in which human beings live is quite influential on their behavioral characteristics. This assertion explains the reasons behind changes experienced in different stages of human growth and development. In specific attention to children’s growth, family set up is a significant environment that influences children’s growth behavior.

Drawing lessons learnt from the two novels mentioned-above, the mannerism found in the parent’s dishonest and immoral affair practiced by the two women, and the behaviors found in Norton, Marla, and Tyler, children are likely to emulate their parent’s attributes (Palahniuk 10).

Since the attributes found in them form negative images in children, this consequently affects their growth behavior as well as their academic performance, which has remained paramount for the success of the children. Based on the novels, this study investigates the extent to which parents have failed at being good role models in the aspect of drug taking and sexual habits.

Parents and drug taking in children

Considerable research evidence has cited parents’ social interaction with their children as the most influential factor in children’s cognitive and behavioral development (Bempechat 31). Focusing on drug taking and drug trafficking, which have become major issues in the public domain, parents play a crucial role as immediate role models that compose children’s nearest environment.

Parents are always quite aware of the dangers of consuming drugs and alcohol. However, due to their personal issues, especially socioeconomic issues that compel them into indulging into drug and substance abuse, they finally expose their children into drugs.

Westernized parents, viz. describing parents with modern culture, seems to be rapidly consuming important traditional virtues and has led to serious defection of acceptable social norms. The western culture tends to divert parents into adopting poor living habits that make them to forget their parental responsibilities, thus fostering their children according to the changes living styles.

Empirical evidences obtained from several research studies reveal that parents have become failed role models, as they form an immediate environment for growth and development of children. A study conducted by Buchanan and Corby shows a growing trend in drug abuse in the United Kingdom according to estimates drawn from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), which unveiled that between 250,000 and 350,000 children have at most one parent seriously doing drug (5).

Amongst the children in such households, over forty percent of them have already tested drugs, mainly due to imitating parent’s behavior. Subsequently, children continuously become accustomed to drug taking as they find personal solutions to accessing drugs.

Parents addicted to drug taking, when questioned, they tend to be antagonistic and resentful, and normally consider intervention by activists as unfair judgment towards drug taking. This aspect empowers children into continuing with drug taking and finally to older stages, most probably drug trafficking itself.

Compared to other parental social influences on children’s cognitive and social development, drug abuse is more likely to result from influence from parents. Parents in the story of the Fight Club demonstrate how they often expose their children into drug and alcohol taking, as they turn irresponsible, moving around from one club to another thus increasing their alcohol consumption (Palahniuk 7).

Research conducted by Buchanan and Corby concluded that in the western society, pleasures and leisure attribute greatly to the exposure of children towards the use of alcohol and tobacco, something which parents have continuously become used thus consequently exposing their children to drugs (1).

The drinking culture of parents revealed in the story of the Fight Club underscores the elements that increase children’s exposure to alcohol and drug taking. Either through the aggressiveness found in children or the deliberate introduction of children to alcohol is always a failure in parents as role models.

Apart from constant drinking behavior in parents found in the story of Fight Club, adults in the novel engage in serious club fighting, behavior that finds it way into the house. Writing from personal experience, the author of the Fight Club extracted his ideas primarily from his parent’s behaviors, which culminated into a divorce when he was fourteen years old.

Ardelt and Day argue that the influence of parents does not disappear completely as one enters adolescence, but successful adjustment during adolescence can depend on the degree of the available social and emotional support provided by parents or family members.

Parents’ engagement in drug doing thus remains significant to the rest of the children life by playing a substantial role in the future of children. Taking example from parental traits found in the Fight Club novel, parents have demonstrated failure in their role modeling to children.

Parents and sexual/immorality behaviors

Parents have also played a significant role in determining the morality of children. As parents provide a composer to their immediate environment, moral attributes found in them consequently influence children’s behavior. Therefore, parents’ immorality and sexual behaviors lead to children engaging in early sex, thus resulting to early pregnancies eminent in the modern world. Ideally, several empirical researches have proven that problems of sexual immorality in children mostly result from single parenthood under stiff economic ties.

According to research by Withers, examining the position of single mothers in fostering children reveal that single mothers “face accusation of maternal neglect, providing inadequate discipline and poor role modeling of their children” (47). In most cases, children are subject to maltreatment resulting to poor growth as parents broadly engage in sexual activities in the presence of their children. Of the reported pregnant cases involving adolescents and children, majority of them happen in single parents households.

In the light of sexual immorality,the story of A Doll’s House is a complete copy of what people can describe as parents portraying a character of failed role models.

The character portrayed by Nora and the old widow reveals that parents play an important role in the morality of their children (Ibsen 11). In their conversation with the old widow, the character of Nora stands out as extravagant and contemptuously immoral. She struggles all the way through to ensure that she obtains money from other admirers at the expense of her husband’s health as a scapegoat.

The careless attitude in Nora is likely to influence children, as a mother and the only person close to them. According to empirical studies conducted by Withers, women desperately engage in dirty behaviors including immorality at the expense of helping their families (51), something that soon manifests in children as they try to emulate their behaviors.

Ethnographic studies across social and cultural behaviors conducted on women indicate that women, being the parents with closest relationship with their children, greatly influence their social structure. “Women who engage in illegal or deviant behaviors such as prostitution or forgery” (Ardelt and Day 315), consequently influence the behaviors of either their children or fellow siblings.

Following pressure from social and economic factors, parents tend to find means of survival for their children especially those born outside the wedlock. Due to poor background and lack of proper parental nurturing, children grow up with moral behaviors taped from their parents or even from peer group pressure because of parent’s failure.

According to a study conducted by Thompson and Kelly-Vance, over 52 per cent out of students performing dismally in academics come from poor backgrounds of single parents (231). However, the rest of the students also perform dismally despite having both parents, probably with poor behaviors.

Extravagancy is probably a conduct that children tend to adopt from their parents. As demonstrated in the play, A Doll’s House, Nora finds herself in complete danger due to her extravagancy, something she has failed to teach her children. The ethos of motherhood that she should possess erodes away due to her immorality, something that she feels no shame about.

The childish behavior found in Nora completely reveals how some parents have become failed role models. According to Ardelt and Day, “in most families, parents are role models for their children and the primary agents of socialization for social attitudes and behaviors” (319).

Submissive to their parents, children find it difficult to behave differently from their parents despite the fact that they interact with different people. Behaviors found in the parents of both stories underscore parents’ irresponsibility and unanticipated role models and any imitation by the children consequently to indiscipline in children.


Parents and their parental nurturing behaviors tend to influence their children’s characters. The two stories, viz. A Doll’s House and Fight Club are perfect examples of parents that form bad icons and inspirations, which is an eminent aspect in the current world. The extravagancy found in Nora and her immoral behaviors possibly create a bad image for their children, something that children are most likely to emulate and become accustomed to as they grow.

Sexual immorality and drug abuse are common problems that the public is facing as the number of early pregnancies, death from drug fights, and infection from sexually transmitted diseases is on the rise. Based on empirical evidence, parents form an integral part of their children’s cognitive and social development, which clearly provides evidence that poor social behaviors found in parents are likely to affect their children.

As parents consume and predispose their children to using illicit drugs as a leisurely thing, it is increasingly becoming a dangerous trend in changing and shaping the important cultural aspects in the children. Parents will only instill proper discipline in children by proving that they have good behaviors.

Therefore, if parents will not reconsider their behaviors especially while interacting with their children, drug taking and immorality in the society may further become uncontrollable in the future, as today’s children form the next society.

Works Cited

Ardelt, Monika, and Laurie Day. “Parents, Siblings, and Peers: Close Social Relationships and Adolescent Deviance.” Journal of Early Adolescence 22.3 (2002): 310-349. Print.

Bempechat, Janine. “The role of parent involvement in children’s academic achievement.” The School Community Journal 2.2 (1992): 31-41. Print.

Buchanan, Julian, and Brian Corby. Problem drug use and safeguarding children: a multi agency approach, 2005. Web.

Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll’s House. New York: Arc Manor LLC, 2009.

Palahniuk, Chuck. Fight Club. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2005. Print.

Thompson, Lynn, and Lisa Kelly-Vance. “The Impact of Mentoring on Academic Achievement of At-Risk Youth.” Children and Youth Services Review 23.3 (2001): 227-242. Print.

Withers, Stewart. “Re-positioning the experiences and situation of single mothers: Accounts from Samoa.” Women’s Studies Journal 25.1 (2011): 47-62. Print.

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