parents who appear to not really want their kids- I see children treated as an annoyance- a distraction from what the parents would rather be doing. I see it in high and low income families- well-educated and not.
The child is seen as some kind of status symbol: we have the Ivy League education, the law degree, the McMansion, the Lexus - now we need to get ourselves a child to make the picture complete. Of course, a child is neither programmable nor easily turned off when the parents are tired of him, so hence the frazzled and distracted behavior; the rude comments to mothers blessed with 4-5 kids ("HOW can you STAND it - I'm going crazy with one," yadda yadda); the push for full-time day care at two months postpartum.
I think that one problem is that many parents today don't really want children -- they want objects of gratification, something that exists only to make the parents happy, something with no more intrinsic value than a Monopoly board game. They ignore their kids except when they're in the mood to do fun things with them, leaving the actual work of childrearing to third parties such as nannies, daycare workers, teachers, coaches, etc. Inevitably, after the novelty wears off, the parents lose what little interest they ever had in their children.
So many parents conveniently think that their children don't need attention and guidance from both parents, and yet they are baffled when their children misbehave, fail and in the end, ignore their parents (except, perhaps, when they want something).