Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Ideas and Your Family

How important are parents? How much does television affect children? Are our ideas about families natural? Are our ideas about gender roles in the family natural or just made up? It doesn't really matter what's true, only what people think is true!

So, how do ideas about family life actually affect peoples' lives? I've already mentioned how ideas about families spread, but I only touched on that subject.

Your own family has huge influences on your own ideas about what family life should be like. You've probably heard that some abusers (and abused women) learn that things are just "that way" from their parents. Likewise, you probably know that positive aspects of your parents relationship may shape your own expectations.

These expectations, such as the man will make enough money to take good care of the family, are not "natural." We learn them and go along with them unless we encounter some compelling reason to change our behavior.

(Remember: Most of these comments apply across societies. The details may be different in France or Japan but the class distinctions are still there!)

The masss media also have some impact on our ideas about family life. Television presents us with images of family life. I have my doubts about how much of what we see on television really shapes our own family life. Perhaps some of the imagesdo soak into our minds and shape our expectations to some degree.

Next time: How do ideas about family life shape spending, saving, domestic squabbles, planning, and life satisfation? If you ever wondered about the "real" origin of these ideas stay tuned!


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