Changes in the American Family

Topics: African American, Family, Black people Pages: 9 (3511 words) Published: July 28, 2005
As we have learned through Skolnick's book, as well as Rubin's research, the make up of the family is influenced by many factors. The economy, culture, education, ethnicity/race, and tradition all help to create the modern family. The last few decades have heavily influenced the family structure, and while some try to preserve the past, others embrace the future. Through it all, we find you can have both. The first part of Rubin's book dealt with "the Invisible Americans." One of the most thought provoking statements from the beginning, states: "Indeed, one of the surprising findings of this study is how much in common all these families have, how much agreement they would find among themselves- even about some of the hottest racial issues of the day- if they could put away the stereotypes and hostilities that separate them and listen to each other talk. For if we set aside race, there's far more to unite working-class families than there is to divide them." (15) For me, this set the tone for the book. More than once, someone from this study who was of a different culture or race then me, said something I know I had thought or even said before. I found it interesting because with some of them, I thought I was the only one who would feel that way; that it was a problem specific to one group. Rubin's research shows that a lot can happen in just one generation. Much has been spoken lately of what Tom Brokaw has declared "The Greatest Generation;" those who fought in WWII. These Americans came back from the war, started families, and worked hard to achieve "The All American Dream." But somewhere they must have missed something because this generation is the generation that produced the "pot smoking, free love hippies" who then produced the adults in Rubin's study. What changed so much with a generation that was the epitome of hard work, discipline, and structure? Stephanie Coontz's article, "What We Really Miss about the 1950's" addresses that. The world between 1920-1950 is not what we think. There was a high murder rate, a substantial divorce rate, and "an older generation of neighbors or relatives who tried to tell them how to run their lives and raise their kids." (Skolnick 33) It's this sense that their children see the world so differently that's so hard for working-class parents. "For it seems to say that now, along with the economic dislocation they suffer, even their children are out of their reach, that they can no longer count on shared values to hold their families together"(47). As is stated in Rubin's study over and over, "People don't know right from wrong anymore"( 63). This was the repeated theme especially with pregnancy outside of marriage. How it was taken care of changed over those generations; from "we had to get married"(45) to raising the child as a single parent, or choosing an alternative: adoption or abortion. And Coontz's article further validates Rubin's study. Coontz states, "It is the belief that the 1950s provided a more family-friendly economic and social environment, and easier climate in which to keep kids on the straight and narrow, and above all, a greater feeling of hope for a family's long-term future, especially for its young" (32-33). She goes on to discuss just to the perceived hopefulness was different from the realistic perceptions of the future we have now. Katherine S. Newman's article, "Family Values against the Odds" does the best job at explaining the very phenomenon we are discussing. In Newman's article, Latoya and her half-sisters create a close-knit family and turn to each other for support. They don't get the support they need from their parents, so they look elsewhere. The needed support for childcare, along with social events and church makes them close. Another subject in the article, Carmen is a Latina immigrant who longs for a relationship with her mother who is still in the Dominican Republic. The lack of family structure these two...

Bibliography: Rubin, Lillian B. Families on the Fault Line, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 1994
Taylor, Ronald L
Ed. Arlene Skolnick and Jermone H. Skolnick: Boston: Pearson Education, Inc., 2003. 365-388
Zinn, Maxine Baca
Ed. Arlene Skolnick and Jermone H. Skolnick: Boston: Pearson Education, Inc., 2003. 389-414
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