Beautiful things can happen within a family whether you have a traditional family that includes two married parents, or a different type of family dynamic where your parents are unmarried or single. The family structure has changed over time and is determined by society and social forces and expectations. The makeup of the population in the United States has also transformed. Immigration in the United States has fluctuated during the last ten years and has filled the gap of our natural population growth decline due to low fertility rates and people starting families at a later stage in life.
We have experienced shifts in the population as well as social changes throughout that time. As the immigration population fluctuates the dynamics of the United States have also changed. Because of this, diversity and cultural acceptance have become extremely important. The traditional gender roles in families have also changed over time. Traditionally the gender roles within the family have been split so that the woman would be the domesticated, motherly and caring parent/spouse while the man would be the one to go to work and provide.
The men were, and somewhat now, are expected to be the breadwinners and support the family. But due to societal and economic transformations, the gender roles in society and a family have also transformed. Everyone’s life is different yet everyone’s life can have something in common no matter what the situation is. It is simply that we all have lives and we want to live it the way we want. The only thing that is standing in the way of that is society and the pressures it puts on its people who do not conform to the social norms or even people that do.
Social norms are what run society and determine how society runs. We, as people of society, need to conform to societal norms or we are seen as deviants, people who do not conform to the norms and are therefore seen as people against society. This does not mean we are seen as radicals. However, it can get to the radical sense like an insurgency. Anything violent or nonviolent that does not follow society would be considered deviant. My family would be sort of both. In some ways, we conform to the norms of society, but in other ways, we do not. There are plenty of social norms and expectations within our society.
For example, we are expected not to commit any type of criminal behavior. One norm that my family does not completely follow is political correctness. We do not use political correctness in the house because we have our way of talking to each other while keeping respect involved. It was how my mother and father were raised and carried on to me. I am not saying we swear at each other or use extreme derogatory words, but we do use some inappropriate language within the confines of our home. However, we were raised on principles of respect and try to correct this habit. Something else that we are very respectful of is how people run their own families.
My family is a regular nuclear family. The fact that I said, “regular,” shows that I was raised in a way that makes a nuclear family look regular or normal for me. The traditional family entails that the mother stays home and does domestic duties such as cooking and cleaning the house while the father goes to work and is the breadwinner. In my family, both of my parents have full-time jobs. Additionally, my mother owns the house we live in while my father contributes a portion of his income. It is like a reversed nuclear family now that I think of it.
Also, I believe we are a conjugal family as well. My mother is the person who owns the house and pays the majority, if not all, the bills. My father contributes to household bills and expenses. My parents are not married through the state but they have been together and have resided together for twenty years. We also interact with our extended families and although they do not live with us, most do live nearby and they play an active role with our family. My extended family follows the same guidelines as the nuclear family concept as well. Something that ties into family and how the family is raised and solidifies their beliefs and morals is their class, their economic class, and social class.
The social-economic class has a hand in determining a family structure and how the family is brought up. For instance, a rich family may parent their children differently or be able to hire nannies and send their children to private schools, while the middle class and poor families may not have the means to do so. Despite the different social-economic classes, families could implement the same morals across different classes based on societal norms and formal laws. A social-economic class can also have an influence on the power or status a family has because a lot of money could come with a big reputation or pride that can easily be ridiculed by a single action. When it comes to poor families, they are already ridiculed for being simply poor.
They are discriminated against just for not having enough money to buy material items. For my family, we are considered middle class. We can afford items such as cell phones, computers, and TVs, that may not be considered a necessity. However, we do not live in the best part of the city. We all have jobs and we all get paid a decent wage but we live day to day on our income and cannot afford international vacations and expensive cars. All these gadgets we have impact us in the way we speak to each other in general too. If my mother does not feel like yelling down at me to answer the door for the food delivery, she will text or call me since she knows my phone is always right next to me. Apart from all this, there is something that my father talks about a lot nowadays within the household and it is because it is around everywhere. It is race and ethnicity.
Now, before I dive into my immediate family, on my mother’s side of my family, most of the elderly people and the people who already passed away were associated with racism. Not radical racism where they joined organizations and fought against a certain group of people based on their race but they had some beliefs about certain groups of people that were not particularly nice. I will be the first to admit and not the last to admit, that racism is still present in today’s society. My great-grandparents and grandparents were raised in a different era where racism was normal.
I was not raised with racism from my parents but my father’s side of the family has experienced it. My mother identifies as a White American with roots all over Europe. My father identifies as a Mexican and Puerto Rican American as he is the first generation born in this country. I identify as what both my father and mother are. All in all, we are all Americans with different colors to our history and that is okay with us. By looking at my father you would not be able to tell he is Mexican, but he has said that when his employers and coworkers learn his last name or his ethnicity they treat him differently. He has also been called derogatory names on jobs in the past. His mother also tells many stories of racism when she first immigrated to the United States that continues to the present day.
My father’s family holds some cultural beliefs that are typically associated with Mexican and Puerto Ricans but he follows no set culture as he grew up in America and was somewhat distant with his family growing up due to their conflicts. However, he and his family sometimes celebrate Cinco De Mayo. My mother and I, on the other hand, do not celebrate Cinco De Mayo unless we are invited to with our father’s family. Since my mother has a larger family and is closer to one another we typically just do whatever that side of my family does, such as celebrate Catholic religious holidays and have get-togethers at Thanksgiving and New Year. I believe society has become more accepting of cultural values and differences. This may be due to the makeup of our population or simply because as generations past society has become more accepting of diversity and cultural differences.
My father identifies as male, my mother as female, and I as male. The only reason why we view gender biological and anatomically is because that is how we were raised. We were raised with gender being almost a synonym with sex. With more education and more people speaking up about it, we have been able to grasp that gender is not the same as sex where sex determines if your male, female, or intersex right when you are born. With gender, there are more than male, female, or intersex that many people have discovered. There are so many that I cannot think of any other than non-binary. I know that non-binary is a broad term that means the opposite of gender binary but those are the only terms I know that are associated with gender. Since we were brought up as children in a way that there were only two genders, we did not know how to begin to understand when people started telling us that there are more than just two genders. My parents have a vague understanding of this and do not understand the origin of where this non-binary term came from but they do not discriminate.
My family is also traditional when it comes to gender in the sense that my parents we raised, and therefore raised me, to have a slightly traditional outlook on gender roles in the family. For example, being a man comes with certain expectations. We are not only expected to be tough, resilient, and fearless but men in our society are also supposed to be independent. Because of this expectation, I believe that when looking at colleges I was more apt to going far enough away that I didn’t have to live at home. That decision not only had to do with the phase in my adolescent life where I wanted some freedom, but I also wanted to have more independence in my early adult life. Being independent also impacted the choices I made to join the Army Reserves.
Attending college is expensive and rather than having my parents assume debt, as well as myself, I limited my loans by joining and getting assistance from the military. As stated earlier, both of my parents work full time. Although in the traditional family setting the mothers and wives have played the caregiving domesticated role and fathers worked outside of the home and were considered the breadwinners, society and our economy have made it hard to have one income supporting a family. Putting gender in categories is natural and unavoidable. However, as generations change so don’t society’s views on what it means to me male and female and what those roles look like.
Society, social forces, and social patterns impact every individual, family, and community. There are norms and expectations in our society that influence us to conform. If not, we are separated from the rest and ridiculed and discriminated against. How people are raised and what morals and beliefs were implemented into us are encouraged and shaped into our everyday life. We do not control how we are raised but we do control how we live our lives to the best of our abilities. Society has such a great influence, not imposing positive or negative, on our jobs, lives, families, and so much more.
Society is like a roller coaster with trends that are coming back that have not been seen since the 1980s or 1990s. We just conform to society to not be seen as deviants or lawbreakers. We love our families and we love the people of the world that try to make an honest living and put nothing but their pure hard work into making life how they want it. All we can do is ride this roller coaster and hopefully get off at a superb time where we can leave something for our kin and hopefully leave it better than how we found it.