Families Should Be

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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Americans have used countless models to identify themselves with. Models of family, individual, student and employee have shaped the way one views oneself, as well as the way in which others view each other in these roles. Stephanie Coontz provides her reader with examples of model families that many Americans attempt to identify with, and the reasons why these examples are merely a myth.

The first example of the traditional family comes from the colonial era. In this model of family, there seemed to be no threat of divorce and disciplining children was simple. This family was patriarchal in that the father had the power and control over the family. What is overlooked when one expresses the desire to have this type of family is the reality of those times. Coontz tells how unstable this time period truly was citing examples such as how more than half the children in the south lived in single parent homes due to death of the other parent.

The second "ideal" family Coontz discusses is the family from the Victorian era. This is the most common definition of the traditional family. The Father is the breadwinner; he goes to work, comes home and supports the family financially. Mother is a homemaker, who stays at home to raise the children, clean the house and cook for the family. The children in this era were believed to be simply dependent on their mothers and their need to play and enjoy life. Again, reality is overlooked to paint a rosy picture of what one wants rather than what really was.

Both of these examples are loaded with negative ramifications, for all members of the family unit. Children played little to no part in family decision-making or in their own individualism. This could cause a child to...