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Sociology and Family Structure

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Tags: childrenFamily StructuregrandparentsMothernuclear familySociology

Essay type: argumentative essay

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Ricky DeBlasio Dr. Ficco Sociology 101 3 May 2010 Social Changes in Family Desmond Tutu once stated, “You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them. ” This statement cannot be truer with regards to my family. Growing up in a close family is something that I will always cherish and something that both my parents were able to do as well. My nuclear family consists of my dad Rick who is 54, my mom Debbie who is 51, my sister Mary Rose who is 17 and me I am 21. We are a very close family, in fact we lived right across the street from one of my uncles and my grandma on my mom’s side my whole life. My dad’s parents were at the house almost every day and it is something that I will cherish forever. My grandfather on my mom’s side passed away when I was five and the rest of my grandparents passed away last year but I have memories of all them and their efforts made our family very strong and gave us strong ties, cultural heritage and a love that will always stay with my family. Although I am very close with my dad’s side of the family, I am going to compare my nuclear family with my mom’s nuclear family because my dad was an only child and my mother’s side is larger and I have taken more of the customs of my mom’s family. My mom’s family would be considered a bigger family in today’s society but in terms of the time, when my mom grew up, her family was considered just a little above the average size family. My Grandmother, Mary and my grandfather, James had six children all together. Rita is the oldest at age 78, then Theresa at age 70, then Jimmy who is deceased and died at age 55, then Anthony who is 65 now, George who is 58 and finally my mother Debbie who is 51. As it can easily be seen there is a large age gap between the oldest and youngest child in the family. Something that is unique about my mom’s family is that my Aunt Rita was married before my mother was born. In today’s society that is not usually the case and is something that would have been impossible in my family because there is only a five years age difference between my sister and I. Because my Aunt Rita and Theresa were so much older than my mother, they helped my grandmother a lot by taking care of my mother and as she stated, “Your Aunt Rita and Aunt Theresa were just like mothers to me, we had a unique relationship because they were so much older than me. This is hard for me to understand because Mary and I are more like friends than anything and we help each other out because we are so close in age. One thing that my parents instilled in my sister and I is a strong connection to our ethnicity and our religion. The reason why is because my grandparents instilled the same thing into them. Every Sunday my parents, my sister and I go to church together at St. Johns Maronite Catholic Church and then we go to lunch together as a family. When my mother was younger she did the same thing with her family. In this sense going to church has been a custom for my mother since she was a child and now it has become a ritual for my sister and I too. Another thing that my grandparents instilled in their children are strong ties to their ethnicity. My grandparents on my mom’s side were both full blooded Lebanese. They were proud to be Lebanese and passed that on to their children and their children passed it on to my cousins and my sister and I. Coming from an ethnic home is something that I am proud of because our family is very close and we follow tradition within our culture. It is not unlikely to see my mother and her sisters making Lebanese dishes such as kibbie, grape leaves or lamb, on Sunday afternoons. This is something that my grandmother and her sisters did as well and the tradition has just carried on, also my sister and my female cousins learned how to make these dishes as well so the tradition of cooking will carry on for more generations of our family. My grandfather worked at a steel mill and my grandmother did not have a job, so my mother’s family was in the lower middle class. But with six children it was very tough for them to spend money. It was not uncommon in that time for the mother of a home to not work so it is understandable why my grandmother did not have a job, she had to take care of the children, cook, clean the house and wash cloths, all the stereotypical things a house wife would do. My grandfather made about $40,000 a year, which is a good income but as stated above not enough to live comfortably with six children. Neither my grandmother nor my grandfather had anything above a high school education; in fact my Uncle George and my mother (two youngest siblings) are the only two in the family with a college degree. My grandfather knew the times were changing in the 1960’s and a college degree would be needed to get a good job and made it a point for my Uncle George and my mother to attend college although they were forced to commute due to the financial situation. With all this in mind it is time to compare my mother’s family with my own. Both of my parents work, in fact my mother has a larger income than my father. My mother is a principal in the New Castle School District and my father is a Lawrence County Commissioner. Both of my parents have a college degree, my dad has a Bachelor’s degree and my mother has both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree, this is interesting compared to my grandparents who did not even attend college. Together my parents make over $150,000 a year, which puts us in the upper middle class. Our financial situation is also made easier because we only have two children in the family compared to six. It is easily seen that intergenerational mobility has occurred; the distinctions in levels of income, occupational status, and education level are very different between the two generations. The gender roles in my mother’s family were stereotypical roles for example the men worked, cut the grass and performed outside chores, while the women cooked, cleaned, washed the dishes and did the laundry. My grandfather was a strict parent, my mom and her siblings had a curfew every night and had to perform the household tasks before they could even think about doing something fun. If the curfew was broke or the household tasks were not performed my grandfather would discipline them accordingly, my grandmother was the one who always would let them get away with breaking curfew and not doing the chores. My grandfather was also very particular about dinner, dinner was to be at five o’clock every night and everyone was to sit around the table and eat together. This is an example of socialization because my mother and her siblings became accustomed to it and did the same thing with their families. In my mother’s family, my grandfather was definitely the head authority in the household, which was common for the times my mother grew up in. My family is different than my mother’s family in most of these respects. One thing that is different is the division of labor, no one in my family does any chores around the house because we hire others to do it for us, this is something that spoils us and something that I am not proud of but it is necessary because both of my parents work, my sister is busy with her high school activities and I am only home on the weekends. Another thing that is different is that my mother is more of an authority figure in the household, especially when it comes to my sister and me. My father is more laid back and just tries to explain to my sister and I what the difference is between right and wrong, he does this because that’s how his mom and dad raised him whereas my mom grounds us or screams to get her point across, which is something she learned from my grandfather. The differences in the gender roles of the family deal with how my parents were raised and their occupations. Many traditions and customs have not changed from my grandparent’s generation to mine, customs such as going to church together, cooking and overall closeness will go on in this family for a long time because it is something that was instilled in my sister and I by my parents and we will instill it in our kids as well. But many things have also changed such as family structure, socioeconomic status, education levels, and authority structure. Family structure has changed because my family only has two kids compared to the six kids in my mother’s family. Socioeconomic structure has changed because my parents make more money and both of them work. Both of my parents went to college and received degrees whereas my grandparents only had high school diplomas. My mother is also more of an authoritative figure than my dad because of the difference in how my grandparents raised my mother and father. It is interesting to look at the family from this prospective and realize that although many things remain the same in a family, many things do change as well.
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