Myth of the Model Family

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According to Gary Colombo in his essay “Harmony at Home” the image of the model family is a housewife-mother, a breadwinner father, a couple of kids and a pet or two in a little spacious suburban house. This is the dream of most Americans, but at the same time is a cliché. “The traditional family has existed for more than two hundred years” (18), but can date back to a far as four thousand years ago, to the time of the Mesopotamia. Like Gary Soto in “Looking for Work” the perfect family misleads Soto into thinking what is truth and what if fiction. The idea of the “perfect” model family is so widely accepted, due to the attention that it receives in the media. “The vision of the [model] family – a harmonious association of parents and children united by love and trust – has mesmerized popular culture in the United States. So the idea of two fathers, or two mothers, is a rare thing to see on a television show. But who in the media decides what a family is? The media has a lot of influence over what we think a family is. Over the years there has also has been the question of who has the authority in an American family? In the Mesopotamia era it used to be the male of the family who had the most authority. He had absolute power in which “the law allowed him to use any of his dependents, including his wife, as collateral for loans or even to sell family members outright to pay his debts” (18). Over the next four thousand years to the present day today, that has slowly changed. During the Puritan American era, the “father remained the undisputed head of families” (19). In Soto’s story he lives with his mom and no mention of a dad. Today there are families that have two fathers or two mothers or only one of each and not the other. In Soto’s “Looking for Work” the story is about a child's expectance of a family life filled with love and comforts like on television.

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