Time and time again, we hear people talking about the eroding American family. From politicians to religious leaders, we hear that we need to return to “Traditional Families Values.” So what are these “Traditional Families Values,” and what happened to them? The 1950s are quite frequently used as the perfect example of time with these “Traditional Family Values,” but history tells us that is not the case. According to Stephanie Coontz (Post, Lawrence, & Weber, 2001), there are large numbers of people, who tell stories of tormented childhoods in alcoholic, abusive or conflict-ridden families. These people can’t understand why anyone would regret the passing of the 1950s, while there are others who are grateful they were unaware of their parent’s problems. This latter sheltered group of people are grateful for whatever kept their family together, and they are also thankful the media did not expose them to many of the adult realities that today’s children see or read about. Stephanie suggests the way to get past these polarized viewpoints, is to put their strengths and weaknesses into a historical perspective.
I believe it is easy to look backward in time, and to forget the bad things that occurred, and to remember the good things, possibly better than they were. Instead of saying we should go back to “Traditional Family Values”, I feel we should discuss how we can improve life for today’s busy and diverse families.The most often discussed value from the 1950s, has to be that some believe the woman’s place is in the home. A large percentage of households had a stay at home mom, with a dad as the breadwinner. This is where many people get the idea, that the lack of traditional values in modern society, is a result of women in the workforce. According to Stephanie Coontz (Post, Lawrence, & Weber, 2001), historically, productive work by mothers, fathers and by young people has been compatible with family life, in addition to strengthening family relationships.
I believe that when all members of a family contribute to the family’s well-being, the family becomes closer. Whether the contribution is made at the home, or in the paid workforce should be irrelevant. The sex of the individual who performs which duties should not matter either. If the woman of the house is the breadwinner, I see nothing wrong with dad staying home to take care of the family on the home front, and maybe working a part time job to supplement his wife’s income. I think it is great when a teenager has the initiative to take a part time job, it takes financial pressure off of the parents. According to Stephanie Coontz (Post, Lawrence, & Weber, 2001), what is out of balance, is the relationship between market and nonmarket activities (including community and family ties). She claims the purchase of goods and services is often used as a substitute for family or neighborhood activities. She also points out how phone calls, pagers, faxes and email constantly intrude into family time.
I feel too much emphasis has been put on material things, which in turn puts pressure on the modern family to spend more money than they should. Telephones, pagers, email and other interruptions do take away from family time, but I feel some balance is achievable. Farmers have been putting in long hours since farming began, but the families still have found ways to spend time together. I feel it is up to the parents to find ways to include family time in a busy lifestyle. I see a lot of this taking place, but in my opinion, too much of the family time tends to end up in front of the television.The family will continue to evolve as time goes on, but I don’t believe it will ever revert back to the family of the 1950s. We now have lesbian and gay couples adopting children, creating family units that would have never been considered in the not so distant past. I do not feel change is a bad thing as long as the adult household members stick to providing a loving home and stay committed to the family they have created.
Post, J. E., & Lawrence, A. T., & Weber, J. (2001). Contemporary business issues with readings. New York: The McGraw-Hill
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