Modern family values
Family dynamics have rapidly been changing and evolving over the last two hundred years, with far-reaching consequences on individuals and societies as a whole. Whereas before the industrial revolution, children used to live and work with their parents within the home to learn the family trade that would support them and future offspring, now parents spend a good majority of their days at work and children at school. Additionally, there is no longer a “normal” family model of two heterosexual spouses and their children to comprise the average home.
As noted by economist Nancy Barret in
Decline of the Family: Conservative, Liberal and Feminist Views, there is no longer one family model that is more dominant than another. (Giezle, Janet D. , 88) The opinions regarding the reasons for such familial shifts are as diverse as the many family models now present. While the opinions of the reasons for such changes in the family may differ, there is a consensus that such changes correlate with the general upward trend of violence, anti-social behavior, divorce rates, teen pregnancies and addiction habits among parents and especially children.
Conservatives argue that such negative behavior epresents a moral decline perpetuated by broken homes and poverty caused by young, unwed parents. They offer a return to traditional family standards and values as a solution to such problems. to such problems, a reversion to a traditional family model is not a viable solution for every family and, therefore, the solution lies in building up communal support for all family types by stressing the importance of families and deemphasizing the individual.
Using these two perspectives put forth in Giezle’s Decline of the Family, this paper will analyze a true narrative of my younger sister who, after failed marriage, attempted to raise a son, attend university and procure a Job after graduation. I have four siblings, and my sister, Beth, is the youngest. Our mother was a single mother who supported her five children by, first, relying on government support through welfare and charities, until she was able to gain a Job working night shift for the post office. The Job offered long, exhausting hours but Just enough money that we no longer required government assistance.
Though my mother was able to support us materially, she was still often stressed over money matters, running a household nd trying to meet the needs of her children. Our home environment was very stressful. Our mother needed to sleep during the day, so household responsibilities were left to us children. Though we were children, it was expected of us to grow up rather quickly, as we had to rely on and look after each other. Emotions were put aside in favor of getting by, paycheck to paycheck. By the time each of us became a teenager, it was expected that we would find a part-time Job to help cover some of our own expenses. lerical position, my brothers and I into the military, and Beth, surprisingly, decided to elope with her oyfriend, who had also Joined the military. It was, as she has reflected on it, an act of desperation to escape a stressful home and the fear of no Job prospects and absolutely no way to fund a college education. Her husband was trained by the military in basic mechanical duties on military planes and they lived in Texas for a year before they expected their child. With his military contract up, they returned to the Pacific Northwest with the idea of him finding steady work to support their family.
The work was hard to find. The mechanical skills her husband had acquired in the military did ot transfer to the civilian world. Temporary, part-time Jobs were not a reliable source of income to prepare for their child. My sister took up work in a restaurant right up until she gave birth in order to help with the finances. After she gave birth, the question of whether to return to work raised several issues. His income alone was not enough on which to live. Therefore, they needed a second income. However, they could not afford to hire a sitter to cover those work hours.
Further, they were informed by the state that the additional income would raise them above assistance level for food and edical benefits. They were in a catch-22, so to speak. They needed to earn more money, but if they did, they would second income. The strain of money issues, raising a newborn, and the typical relationship problems that accompany young people and rash decisions, brought their marriage to an end when their son was Just one. My sister was in a very difficult position. She had a son to raise, but on no place to live, no college education, and very little work experience. She lived with me while she filed for state benefits.
Over the course of eight months, she secured an apartment, enrolled in chool and began the work-study program there to earn a bit of money. However, the state assistance would only continue if she were in a vocational program at the community college. The incomes of such vocations threatened to put her back in the same predicament she and her husband had been in”not enough to get by, but Just enough that the state could offer no assistance. She gave up the state assistance and her apartment to move back home with our mother, who agreed to baby-sit while my sister attended the University of Portland and worked on campus there.
She still eceived medical insurance for her son, and a small stipend for food. After four years, she graduated and landed a Job that now supports her and her son. It would not have been remotely possible without the support of state programs, generous student grants and constant support from her family members. From a conservative’s perspective, issues such as teen pregnancy, divorce and couples having children while being unable to support them are all marked signs that society has shifted from traditional family values.
A conservative would argue that the moral declination of society is exemplified in the selfishness of individuals ho place little to no value on the family unity. Further, they argue that the cultural attitudes toward unwed parents and those on state assistance have become too tolerant, rewarding them with welfare assistance programs that do nothing but lower community standards and teach dependence instead of self-reliance. (Giezle, 77) Cons