Tag Archives: family

The 1950s and The American Dream

From the sub-Reddit, AskAHistorian: Was the 1950s largely middle class, American dream portrayed in modern media a reality in its time?

“Many factors went into making this the dominant picture/stereotype of the ‘ideal’ family; one is is that a whole generation of people who had grown up during the Great Depression and WWII were very happy to have the chance to have a family and live a more stable life after the war ended.

“Americans whole-heartedly embraced the ‘domestic’ ideal of focusing of marriage, children, the home, and the consumption of commercial goods as the primary means of making themselves happy after the war. As part of that, large numbers of women either chose or were admonished (often a bit of both) to believe that their highest calling in life was to be a wife and a mother – they faced enormous social and cultural pressure to find a man, settle down, and become a housewife.

“At the same time, the federal government made a conscious policy choice to encourage massive consumer spending to help grow and feed the American economy after the war; things like the GI Bill (and the cheap mortgages which it allowed veterans to get), interstate highways (which spurred the growth of suburbs) and a whole range of other policies underwrote and encouraged Americans to buy and idealize the one-family, suburban home. And these policies worked: the post-war period was a time of tremendous economic growth and prosperity, which meant that large numbers of American families could afford these things.

“But the ideal was just that: an ideal. It’s definitely a mistake to look at “Leave it to Beaver” and think that this actually how most 1950s families lived. I don’t watch a lot of TV these days so forgive the dated reference, but that’s basically like watching Friends and assuming that everyone in the 1990s lived like Ross, Chandler, and Rachel (in massive, wonderfully furnished apartments that would have been way beyond the means of these characters in real life) …

“You also need to acknowledge that for black families and other minorities, the ideal of the suburban home was almost completely unachievable: they were denied access to the jobs that would have enabled them to live that life, while racist housing policies + practices kept them out of the suburbs and confined to predominantly black neighborhoods.”

Full discussion http://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/comments/2vw07k/was_the_1950s_largely_middle_class_american_dream/

Dating a Single Mom is Entering a Family

Dating advice for a guy asking about dating a single mom: “As the male child of a single mom, I know what it’s like to be your kid. To have guys come in and out of my life, pretending to like me so they could get to my mom, then ignoring me when they get her. I would date a woman with a child, but I can not be a part of that child’s life until we are getting serious. I don’t want to meet your child at all, so that I’m not just another man coming in and out of their life. Once things get to a bf-gf level, then I will meet your child, with the complete understanding that I’m not just dating you, I’m dating both of you. No matter how much a woman says that her kid has a dad, or that her kid doesn’t need a dad, or that she’s not looking for a dad, if I’m in a romantic relationship with you, I fill a dad-like position, whether you like it or not. Every adult influences a child, and the closer the adult is the more they will influence the child. Also, if your kid is an asshole, and you’re not being a good mom to deal with it, then that’s a deal breaker. Once again, I’m dating you and your kid. You could be awesome, but if your kid sucks, and you suck as a parent, then I’m out. Overall, I will date a single mom, but they have to understand that the commitment to them is now way bigger with a child. No matter how you phrase it, or what you think, I’m not dating you, I’m dating you and your kid. And it’s my responsibility to understand that as well. I’m not entering a relationship, I’m entering a family.”

Full thread on Reddit

How Parents Tell Their Children About Poverty (or Don’t)

Or try to at least: “We lived with friends and family, moving along as we strained our welcome until we were finally able to move into a house of our own. It was the worst house yet. Barely livable. It was a house that had been moved from a neighborhood that was being torn down and my dad worked to renovate it when he wasn’t at work in exchange for very discounted rent. This whole time food was a struggle and I guess that was never a secret, but it wasn’t exactly discussed either. In the same way you don’t talk about the fact that your mom called you from work to tell you to fill the bathtub up because they’re going to turn the water off. Or the way you don’t mention that you picked up the phone and there’s no dial tone again. The same way you don’t ask your mom for money for that field trip because you know we don’t have it. You just tell your teacher you forgot the permission slip and stay behind. The same way you wear shoes even after you’ve outgrown them because you know your Dad is going to skip lunch to pay for new ones. Believe me. You know. It breaks your heart. It breaks your heart because it breaks your parents a little everyday. I remember walking into the kitchen as they sat at the table with a pile of bills we couldn’t pay. My mom had been crying and my Dad had his head in his hands. This was over 20 years ago and there is a lump in my throat and a knot in my stomach remembering the look on my father’s face.”

Image from this HuffPo story.