September 9, 2018
In our society, when one hears the word “family”, we tend to automatically think of a mom, dad, and children all living together in one house. An institution, by definition, is “a social structure in which people cooperate and which influences the behavior of people and the way they live.” The most common example of institutions is laid out in families, where they have a purpose, and are permanent. The cultural institution of family to me has three key functions; One, to provide an identity and sense of belonging within the family. Two, to convey culture between the generations. Three, to instill values, raise, and nurture the children. The family is the original cultural institution.
In most families today, they often consist of many age groups/ generations within, that branches out to their extended family living in the same home. As life continues to modernize, the younger generation often leave from the community that they were born and raised in to start their lives, look for jobs, etc., which leaves the older generations behind. They start new chapters of their lives and do new things, meet new people, things that they may have never done if they had stayed in their original communities.
Parenting and raising children is the most central task of a family. Being in a family where parents teach their child the basic norms, rules, values, etc., of the society they are living in is extremely important. When a child familiarizes and grasps their cultural background and where they come from, they obtain that sense of security and belonging, the feeling where they know their identity and who they are as people. That “sense” of knowing where they belong and constant teaching of their cultures/ heritage assures families that it will continue to live on even in further generations.
Although the up-bringing of a child has many demands and can be difficult and strenuous to some, most parents and guardians describe raising kids as a fulfilling responsibility, an achievement. However, the number of kids that are living in homes of our industrialized world today have been reducing dramatically. The financial stresses and pressure our economy has on people today has led the average family to have maybe a child, or two. It is common that both parents have to work and make money to support its members, that they often do not have the opportunity to spend as much time as they would like together.
Now, as our society continues to develop and change, not every family is centered towards a married mother and father who work and are able to support their family. For example, in Gary Soto’s “Looking for Work” he depicts a family where there is no father in the picture. The young boy who is the narrator, talks about how he wishes his life and family was like the television show “Father Knows Best” where the family in the show is visualized as so “uncomplicated in its routine” that he wanted to imitate it. The narrator also mentions how every morning after eating his breakfast, he picks up his rake and continues his routine of looking for work. Imagine a young boy having to go door to door to see if his neighbors have any work that he can do just to make a couple cents because his single mother is not able to provide enough financially for him and his siblings. Today, most US households are centered with “alternative” families, such as Soto’s “Looking for Work.” Single-parent, Gay/ Lesbian, Unmarried, are examples of some of the alternative families that are an increasing rate in the US today.
There ARE alternative families of different races who are capable of having strong and supportive family dynamics within their household just like traditional nuclear white families. In the article “The Color of Family Ties” by Naomi Gerstel and Natalie Sarksian, both of the authors claim that minority families demonstrate some of the most strongest, encouraging, and sympathetic family ties. Some people who do not live in minority families find this hard to believe because they presume that Latino and African American people are more cluttered and unorganized than white people. Sarksian and Gerstel both state “We often hear that Black and Latino, especially Puerto Rican, families are more disorganized than white families, and that their family ties are weaker…”(47) But, the two authors also mention that minority households are more likely to have an extended kin of family living with them than white households. I personally agree with this statement that families who are not traditional live with more family such as grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc., and that those members are more likely to help out around the house and with daily tasks.Works Cited
AuthorLastName, FirstName. Title of the Book Being Referenced. City Name: Name of Publisher, Year. Type of Medium (e.g. Print).
LastName, First, Middle. “Article Title.” Journal Title (Year): Pages From – To. Print.