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Family Ties: Learning From The Past

1318 words - 5 pages

What types of characteristics or traits are indicative of the ideal family? A flawless family is comprised of a number of distinctive qualities. The common goals and responsibilities of family members include such things as providing physical resources, reproducing children, raising these children and providing them with a fundamental education, and adhering to disciplinary consequences of improper behaviors in an attempt to better the actions of the violator(s). The success of various families is measured by the time period or society in which they exist. Countless generations have passed and an endless number of families and family types have existed. As time goes by, the specific roles of family members change, altering the effectiveness and the meaning of the family within its respective time period. However, through an analysis of some of the preexisting family types, and through an examination of the roles of modern families, one can determine which type of family is most effective.In some of the more recent generations, there has been a significant transformation in the roles and ideals of the family. According to research done by Stephanie Coontz, author of What We Really Miss About the 1950s, a 1996 poll stated that more Americans favored the 1950s than any other decade for children to grow up (33). In her essay, she includes a number of reasons for these feelings of nostalgia and rationales for why this decade was most liked. Coontz explained, "The 1950s provided a more family-friendly economic and social environment, an easier climatein 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" (Coontz 33). This time in (American) history was one of economic advancement, familial stability, and complete optimism in the future. Middle-aged men and women could look forward to securing permanent jobs with reliable companies and earning substantial salaries (Coontz 43). Parents at this time could procure considerable living arrangements and easily provide their children with an enjoyable childhood and a basic education. There is also a stereotype that is often associated with families of this decade, and it is illustrated in the works of a number of other authors and painters of the time.In a story by Gary Soto, titled Looking for Work, a young, Mexican boy talks about some of the shows on television and how they characterize the "ideal family" of that time. He explains that there are"no beatings or arguments in the family, bright clothes, and plentiful toys. The children enter bed with kisses, and wake up to fresh glasses of orange juice, while mom is buttering toast and dad is drinking coffee. They made friends and gobs of money. They returned home at night to a cozy living room and dinner" (Soto 29).Likewise, the painting Freedom from Want by Norman Rockwell depicts a family of the era sitting down to eat dinner together, and all family members are...

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