American Family Essay

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Tiago Mendes ENFL - 046 - Hansen 03/27/2013 W3D1 American Family American family values and beliefs have changed. These values and beliefs began changing drastically in the 1940’s. These changes continue to affect American families today. The sociologist Barbara Dafoe Whitehead (as cited in Lim & Smalzer, 2008) observed and labeled three times periods in which these changes took place: traditional familism, individualism, and new familism. There were also three political movements during the individualism period that also influenced changes in American values and beliefs: the anti-war movement, the women’s liberation movement, and the sexual revolution. Various characters in the movie Mona Lisa Smile illustrate these time periods and movements. The first time period was traditional familism, which took place from 1940 to 1960. The family concept in this period was defined as a married couple where the mother stays home to care for the children and the house, and the father works to provide for them. Mrs. Warren said, “This is the bargain you made, Elizabeth. We all did” (Goldsmith-Thomas, E., et al., 2004). Mrs. Warren, President Jocelyn Carr, and Betty Warren (at the beginning of the movie), provide a good example of these family characteristics, because they exemplify the “roles they were born to fill” (Goldsmith-Thomas, E., et al., 2004). At this time the nuclear family was unchangeable. About “80 percent of children lived in two-parent families with a mother or stepmother who worked on the farm or at home. Fewer than 10 percent of American children lived in one-parent families” (Anonymous, 2000, p. 617). These percentages illustrate the commitment the American people use to have toward this institution. The second period, the individualism period occurred between 1960 and1980. Individualism means independence and self-reliance, but is also often

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