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American Family Values Essay

In: English and Literature

Submitted By ochosynco
Words 1324
Pages 6
Dexter Downlow
Professor Miteechur
English Comp II
February 10, 2015
American Family Values
In the article, “Family Values,” Richard Rodriguez states his view on the positive affect of homosexuality on family values in America. He questions the values that the media and politicians claim Americans hold and intrigues the reader to decide whether the United States values the family at all. With the traditional family dynamic changing every day, so does the perspective of right and wrong. The media, however, is quick to defend the sanctity of the stereotypical family and chastises anything that contradicts that ideal. The things one values changes with age and are shaped through personal experience and relationships made throughout life. This individual moral development should be promoted instead of criticized. This country was founded on the idea of individual rights. However, America is always forcing it’s ideals on others. The United States would be a more unified and progressive place if its citizens embraced the idea of tolerance and valued the diversity that make the people of this country great instead of demonizing what doesn’t fit the stereotypical image of the American family. The United States is seen as the “Land of Opportunity.” People have come from all over the world to give their family a chance at the American Dream. This nation was created by people who believed in the idea of a better life for their children. But what is the American Dream and why was this ideal appealing? In traditional America, a successful life was determined by first going to college. After attending a good school, one was expected to attain a good career. Women, however, attended higher education exclusively to meet a mate because their place was in the home, attending to the children. The husband was responsible for providing for his family by working. Marriage came before living with a significant other and lead to having children and owning a home. The men were manly and the women feminine. The problem with this single image of family is that not everyone fits this dynamic. Therefore, a family’s priorities and perspective on morals changes drastically from what is supposedly the basic ideal of American values. America was based on equality and the civil right of individualism. This was the idea that brought so many immigrants to this country with the hope of a better life. Therefore, traditional family values are undermined by individualism and the right of the pursuit of happiness. The average American has the right to live their lives according to their morals and values so long as they are law-abiding citizens. Individual values lead to rebellion of traditional thought and evolve from the ideals of American parents. Rodriguez states, “What authority can Papa have in a country that formed its identity in an act of Oedipal rebellion against a mad British king?” (258). Americans are raised with the expectation of rebellion from their parents as a rite of passage. Cultural revolutions such as the Civil Rights Movement, Feminism, and the Marriage Equality Movement have not only followed this inevitable rebellion but also changed the dynamic of families today and transformed American culture. The American family has progressed immensely from the stereotypical and segregated image into a unique and entertaining dynamic. Families today are becoming diverse with relationships that are interracial, multi-generational, and multi-religious. Future generations will be so multicultural that racial differences that defined people long ago will be blurred unrecognizably. Couples are as diverse as live-in companions, gay spouses, or even polygamists. There are those that are perfectly content on being single for life. Parents range from the traditional married heterosexual couple to divorce or single parents, homosexual parents, grandparent custodians, adopted or foster parents, and teen parents. There are couples that choose to never have children and remain a two person family their entire lives. The author questions, “Today there are moms who don’t want their husband’s names. And the most disturbing possibility: What happens when Mom doesn’t want to be Mom at all? Refuse pregnancy?” (259). The media and Conservative politicians proclaim these families to be a deviation from the ideal American family, however because of America’s freedom to pursue happiness individually, priorities in family values are ever-changing. This nation is in uncharted territory understanding the values of the average American family. Politicians fight to limit the rights of individuals based on traditional values when today’s American family is anything but traditional. This leads to cultural revolutions such as the Civil Rights Movement and Feminism. America is made up of very different people and there is no single correct way to raise your children. Parents need to use encouragement and understanding to be successful raising children a new age of American values. The average American’s priorities and family dynamic are unique. Raising children to be positive contributions to society is not solely based on a certain set of rules or guidelines but empowered by tolerance and authoritative parenting styles. In a study in the Netherlands, Parents who had an authoritative parenting style during a puzzle task had kids who were rated as more prosocial by their teachers and peers. The kids with authoritative parents were also more popular (Dekovic and Janssens 1992). This study showed that children grew into more successful adults with involved and understanding parents. Family dynamics are vastly different than before, but society is beginning to accept families who are finding alternate approaches to being successful in life. While Americans are bred to be individual, society requires tolerance and collectivism to be successful. Every team needs a diverse group of members to achieve their goal. Everyone holds value in different ways and to succeed together, individuals need to embrace their strengths and rely on others to compensate for weaknesses. Americans are taught to be selfish to stand out in a competitive world but this leads to conflict, hatred and fear, segregation and repression. America history is a violent, winner-take-all story but is learning how to use teamwork to progress from other countries. Rodriguez adds, “The old platitude had it that ours is a vibrant, robust society for being a society of individuals. Now we look to Asia and see team effort paying off” (261). The Japanese have taught manufacturers processes such as lean manufacturing and continuous improvement. Political ideas are often inspired by European lawmaking. While individualism is important, to progress and a unified nation requires people to be accepting to the unique culture and values that make those people valuable. To continuously improve and thrive as a nation, Americans must accept changing ideals and be tolerant to the diversity that this country is composed of. America is a cultural melting pot, mixing together more every day. People are capable of incredible things when they work together and set aside differences. So why, as Americans, are we so quick to demean anything that contradicts our perspective? Imagine what the government could accomplish if politicians weren’t fighting over issues like gay marriage, equal pay, or abortion/birth control laws. This nation has always been based on treating your fellow man or woman with equality. Americans need to accept changing family values and admit that there is no longer a standard family dynamic. If people would embrace everyone despite their differences and assist in the development of the new individual American family, the United States could begin to be the progressive leader of the world instead of looking to other countries for guidance on important social and political issues. America has instilled its people with the right be unique. The only way to progress together as a nation, is to promote that individuality.

Works Cited
Rodriguez, Richard. “American Values” The McGraw-Hill Reader: Issues Across the
Disciplines. Gilbert H. Muller. 12th Edition. New York: McGraw Hill, 2014. 257-262. Print.
Dekovic M and Janssens JM. 1992. Parents' child: Rearing style and child's sociometric status." Developmental Psychology 28(5): 925-932.

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