Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Evolution of the Family

I'm looking for some opinions here...and I know you all have them. :0)
My final project for one of my classes is an essay on THE FAMILY. I chose this topic because it means something to me. It's something I feel passionately about. I'm sure all of you can relate. :0) Because my word count is limited, I had to break down this topic to one aspect of THE FAMILY. I chose the "evolution" of the family. the family has changed over the last 50 years and has it changed for the better or has it gotten worse?
My view is that the strength of our children lies within the family unit. If we are a strong family unit, we have the ability to raise strong children. Sure, there are cases when "strong" can end up meaning "strong willed" and our kids rebel and do as they please. :0) BUT, if we instill values in them when they are young, we have a better chance of them living by those values as they grow older.
My question for you is this...
Are our children stronger than we were as children? Were we stronger than our parents? Were they stronger than theirs?
Are you seeing where I'm going with this? In the 1950s the family consisted of the "bread winning" husband, stay at home mom/wife, and several well behaved little children. Right? Everyone appeared to be clean cut. This was the "norm" for back then. This was the era my parents were born in. Television came out about this time. There was no internet. No text messaging or cell phones. You catching my drift? Entertainment was dependant on family and your friends in the neighborhood.
Today, there is no "norm" for the family unit. According to the 2000 Census, the number of married with children households was only 24.1 percent of the population. Numerous families are now what we call "mixed" families. "Step" and "half" parents and siblings are "normal". My family is not immune to this. I was previously married. During this marriage I had my son. I got divorced. I remarried my fabulous hubby and we had a daughter. My children are "half" siblings {though we don't see it as that} and my hubby is my son's stepdad {though he's just dad around here :0) } My ex-husband is remarried. My son has a step-mom as well. Two mom's and two dad's for that kid. They are expecting their first child. He will have another "half" sibling that lives in a different house from him. {Are you confused yet?}
On top of the "abnormalities" with the family unit now, the differences from 50 years ago are numerous.
1. Double income households. Both parents are working. I have been a working mom, a part-time working mom, and a stay at home working mom. :0) I'm not insinuating that one is better than the other. So, don't feel I'm picking on you whatever your situation. I will be going back to work once my daughter is in school all day. I'm just stating the difference. :0)
2. Fewer children per household. {Like my two kids vs. my moms 4 kids vs. my grandma's 8 kids} See the difference?
3. Technological advances. We've got internet, cable tv, video games, cell phones, text messages, and hop in our car whenever we feel like it to go wherever we want. Our new form of family entertainment is to find SOMETHING to entertain us vs. entertaining each other.
4. Stranger danger! I'm a freak when it comes to this. I worry about my kid getting kidnapped everytime I watch Law and Order. Back in the day, neighbors were neighborly. They looked out for each other, including the kids. Though I know a couple of my neighbors, I can't say that we "watch out" for each other. :0(
5. Pre-marital "relations". The whole "family values" thing was strong in the 1950s. Though not everyone saved themselves for marriage, it was more the norm. Nowadays, kids in Jr. High are getting to "know" each other.
So, let me ask again. Do we have stronger family units now? I know we all feel passionately about certain areas I've brought up here. Some areas more than others. Though we are an ever evoloving society, have we become better? Should we go back to the way it was in the 1950s? Maybe in some ways and not others?
Thanks for your opinions. It will help as I write my paper. Though I can't use your actual words because it's an expository essay, it will help me to focus more on certain aspects over others.


OHmommy said...

Awesome questions.

I am so way old school. We do everything as a family. I can not see it any other way.

I think technology has a lot to do with it.

There will be NO TV in my kids rooms. There will be no COMPUTER in my kids rooms.

We will do things as a family. ;)

Jane the Sane said...

You rock for taking this topic on. No way I can answer all your questions. I HOPE TLP is stronger than me and I HOPE our family is stronger than mine was growing up.

I would say in society as a whole the family is getting weaker and that kids are growing up wild, obnoxious, and mannerless. They have sex too early and too casually. At least that is the impression I get from seeing them in passing.

Amber M. said...

Great post.

I wasn't surprised about AI. Cook rocks.:-)

Lisa @ Take90West said...

Great questions...I'll come back and give you my opinion later...I'm on my way out the door. :) (And I wouldn't be running late if I wasn't blogging!)

~Virginia~ said...

i think growing up in the 50s would have been so cool! kids are just exposed to so much more stuff now--and so much earlier than they should be. things just seemed more simple back then. generally speaking.

painting with very broad strokes, i'd say it was much safer and much calmer climate than it is now.

Alicia said...

This is a great paper topic. I think we have definitely evolved and I think we have to be stronger if we want the Family to survive. I am not sure we are stronger based on chronology and time, but rather by choice, we have to fight to get what others had. I agree with "ohmommy" we have to be family centered.

i'm kelly said...

oh i don't know... i think in some ways we've evolved and in others we haven't (how's that for an answer.) to be honest, if a family can overcome everything that comes at them today, all the things that are pulling them apart (tv, internet, texting), all the things that encourage people to do things on their on... if you can combat all that and still function as a group, as a family, then you are definitely stronger.

Sister Honey Bunch said...

Great topic, Ashlee. I don't even know where to begin.

I have friends whose children have TV's and computers in their bedrooms. The kids all have several sports activities they are involved in, so there is almost no family time where everyone is together.

Back in the day, kids weren't so over scheduled. Everyone ate dinner together, played a game, watched tv together. Now it seems so separate.

I'm going to avoid that at all costs. I have it much easier with only one child to schedule things with, but he will NOT have a tv or a computer in his room. Evah.

Christie said...

Excellent food for thought.

Here's my two cents - I think it's harder to raise kids these days. There are more distractions, more temptations, more vehicles through which the adversary can work. But 60 years ago, parents were worried about putting food on the table and keeping their job. Sure, we worry about that, too, but it's like we've got so much more, too. More in good ways, but sometimes that's not always a good thing. Did our parents have us in as many activities as we have our kids? Why do we over-schedule ourselves? Sometimes it frustrates me that my kids need to look for entertainment and stimulation. Hello? Outside world? How about just playing and using your imagination?

I don't know. I think it's hard, and always will be hard, to raise kids. But there does seem to be a lot more bad stuff today than ever before.

Sister Sassy said...

Wow, hmmmm, well its hard to say. I think we see a lot of media telling us something but I try not to believe media and I'm out of touch with the research.

I think that you have a mix, dh's family was totally weak. They survived somehow but it wasn't through anything his mother did. My family was strong in a lot of things and weak in other. I like to think dh and I are working to create a family better and stronger than either of ours. But my kids are both loud and obnoxious, lol.

I think there might be something for mommy guilt=permissive parenting=out of control kids? But I haven't done any research on it.

Sex, I think its best to be practical toward it. I will of course teach it is best to wait for a loving and committed relationship but I will not pretend to think they won't do it. I will not make them think that having sex with a man(OH GEEZ! I just caught myself in a gender conflict!! Referring to the female having sex with the man. So double standard!) so again, I will teach them that if they do have sex, that doesn't mean they must tie themselves to that person forever. I saw too many girls my sisters ages get married because of that.
Sometimes you have sex. Geez, I remember my hormones and how awful they were. Sometimes its really hard to not have sex. really... ugh, I remember. Anyway, I don't know what sort of role parents take in the whole sexucation of their kids. Unfortunately (and I do know th is one for sure) most kids obtain their info about sex from their peers -who know virtually nothing. But kids really want it to come from their parents, they want their parents to be a role model, the want guidance from their parents. According to the studies I've read/heard.

So I went off about sex. I think our culture objectifies everything, materializes and consumes everything. We teach "MUST HAVE" and we don't teach to value the real things that matter in life. Its about looking good, having the right stuff and so on. ANd we show them dead people on tv all the time, that has to have a numbing quality.

oh, p.s.-more active daddies. I'd like that. Boys need strong positive loving men in their lives.

Ok, I'll leave you alone. What are you studying btw? I got my bachlors in Family studies and have some wonderful text books and had some wonderful teachers. My psych teachers were all a little...weird (for my psych major) and most of my Social work Profs were out of touch. To this day I think I value my Family Studies program more than any of the other two.

....did you read that whole thing?

.....uh...why are you still reading...I'm done. Stop looking at me Ashlee. I'm gonna lead a mass takeover of your basement....ok, I'm so tired...I need to stop...must...stop...typing.... must ...hit...publish.

Lisa @ Take90West said...

This is such a great question. Being a parent is much harder today, but I don't necessarily know if families today are stronger. It doesn't seem like kids have to work hard for anything, technology makes everything so instant and even as parents we (me) sometimes use all the technology as a babysitter in lieu of family time. We sit down and have dinner together every single night, evenn if it is at 8 o'clock after everyones activities are over. It is important to us, so we make time for it.
I think kids in my generation and older were much better at entertaining themselves, playing outside, being creative etc. My kids do all those things, but they are also the first to be 'bored.' They don't know what it means to hop on their bikes and be gone for the afternoon, playing with friends and having good old fashioned fun. It's not really their fault, we don't live in an age where that is safe anymore, but it does feel like they are missing out on something.
It's different, for sure.

Good luck with your paper...i'm sure it is going to be a great essay!

Cameron said...

Interesting topic. I think it's fairly easy to spot how the family is different today than in yesteryear. I bet there's lots of good stats on the average makeup of a family today vs 50 years ago. The question that's really interesting to research would be why? What has caused the evolution of the family?

As to the question of are our families stronger now? I think some families are stronger, some weaker. I think the prevalence and increase in divorce, infidelity and abuse are all factors that weaken families. But they can be overcome. But it's very difficult, and the scars from those things can last a long time. So I would say, as a whole, this country's families are weaker than in the past. said...

hi ashlee -- good post.

more strong willed