Analyzing family change in three generations of my family, I found glaring distinctions between all three, but there are also some similarities that have seeped through the generations and still remain. Most of my family is still situated in very rural parts of Mexico and all three generations of my family were born and raised in Mexico for some time including my generation. Culture and Poverty have strongly influenced the family change that has occurred through the three generations, but there are also similarities in my family that coincide with U. S trends that have also led to family change.
From my grandparents’ generation to my parents’ generation and finally to my own generation there has been change in the following facets of the family: marriage, childbearing, gender relations and in the household division of labor. Some of these changes are relative to U. S. trends of family change, but others are not. My grandparents were born in a small agricultural part of Mexico and they have resided there all their lives.
Most people in this small Pueblo lived and continue in poverty, including my grandparents, and people often married for stability, but love was part of a marriage and sometimes it dwarfed the stability aspect marriage promised. It was common practice for the wife’s father to gift his son-in-law land (or livestock), so that he may provide for his daughter and future family. Likewise, the son-in-law often also had his own contributions: land, a house, or something of value that could potentially lead to stability.
However, if the father-in-law did not approve of a relationship, it was also common practice for the male “steal” his wife— taking his wife from her household secretly without her father’s consent, this was my grandparents’ situation. Logically, this would result in failure to receive any valuable resources from the wife’s family. My grandparents married through the Catholic Church in 1946, but they did not benefit from the industrial prosperity that the U. S. was having in the long decade during this time: 1948-1964. The industrial prosperity of the golden age in the U.
S. allowed for a gradual shift from household labor to factories for economic production (Reed, 2016). And in turn, the industrial prosperity in this period, “allowed for, the ideal family, the traditional family where the husband worked and the wife stayed home” (Reed, 2016). In my grandparents’ small Pueblo there was no industrial prosperity; my grandfather worked in the fields and tended to his crops and my grandmother tended their house and children, but she would also go out into the fields occasionally and help with the crops.
There were no rigid barriers between the private and public sphere, but there were certain jobs that seemed unfit for women at the time. Although my grandparents were not able to acquire wealth during the period of prosperity the U. S was having during the long decade, they were able to achieve some form of the traditional marriage; the man as the breadwinner and the woman as the housewife, raising the children and tending the house. Their marriage was traditional in these ways because of strict gender roles, the man was seen as stronger and thus there were stern beliefs about jobs for a man and jobs for a woman.
Although my grandmother was sometimes working outside of the home, she was not doing the same tasks as my grandfather. In terms of childbearing, my grandparents had eleven children and this also led to a more traditional family because my grandmother had to be home caring for her children, while my grandfather was farming. Childbearing in rural Mexico was higher than in the U. S. in this time period, and in some ways this was an economic factor, because more children meant more hands in the field and this led to more efficient production.
Having more children would be a financial benefit, especially if the babies were boys because they could grow up to work like their father and contribute financially, “Children usually also worked for pay as well” (Coontz, 187). Even though, my grandparents were living during the period when many American families were able to achieve an ideal family, they were still living in a period prior to the industrial prosperity in comparison to American families, but they had a modified from of the traditional family because of Mexican culture and hierarchy of gender.
Moreover, in the 1940’s divorce rates in the U. S. had begun to rise because companionate love was becoming important in the marriage, but in Mexico religion is very intertwined with the institution of marriage and Catholicism condemns divorce (figure 1. 1) My grandfather gave my grandmother many reasons for her to ask for a divorce, but because religion is a crucial part of the culture, they never divorced; an American couple in this time period would have had a higher probability of divorce if they faced the same marital issues that my grandparents endured.
My grandfather was not loyal to my grandmother and he also had problems with alcohol and I think it reasonable to infer that their initial love faded, and they were more like yolk mates because they had a to pull a family and they shared thisend goal, so they stayed together because it was easier to do raise a family as partners rather than by themselves (Coontz, 145). My parents were also born in the same impoverished part of rural Mexico and they shared many similarities with my grandparents’ generation.
In relations to educational opportunity, my parents had access to an elementary education that had not been available to my grandparents’ generation in this part of Mexico. The furthest education that my parents received was primary school, and they discontinued after that milestone, but because of different reasons. My father could have continued his education and pursuing an education was the norm for boys in wealthy families, but my father decided to stop because he chose to work to counteract the poverty as opposed to continue studying.
Contrarily, my mother was not allowed to continue her education because her parents believed that a women’s place was in the house cooking and cleaning. It is clear to see how the hierarchy of gender had impermeable barriers for women striving for education, and this was similar to the golden age in the U. S. where boys were expected to go to school and pursue a higher education whereas women were limited by social norms.
My parents married in 1989 and they continued with the traditional family dynamics as my grandparents’ generation, only that love had become more of a focus in marriage — my father as the breadwinner and my mother as a housewife who raised the children. In contrast, in the U. S. the unfinished revolution was already underway in this time period, and the ideal family was beginning to fade as both husband and wife were entering the workforce. Again, my parents retained with the ideology of the past, because of gender roles not because they were economically stable, in fact, in 2001 my parents immigrated with their family (me included) to the U. S. in search of opportunities and a better future.
In terms of childbearing my parents had four children and three of us were born in Mexico; in comparison to the U. S. , my parents number of children was a bit higher than the average in the U. S. in this time period. Additionally, my parents’ decision to immigrate to the U. S. allowed for U. S. trends to influence the family dynamics that my parents had established in Mexico; the U. S. census data shows that in the 1990’s about sixty percent of White women were in the labor force and that number only continued to rise especially for women of color with low economic status.
For a short period of time, my mother entered the work force to assist the family financially, but this was transitory because it was not economically sensible for my mother to work and have to pay for childcare. My parents still have traditional family roles, but there are some aspects of the unfinished revolution that are present in my parent’s marriage because there is equality between both parties. My mother is not servile, she is her own person and she has a very important say in family matters and in financial matters even if she is not the wage earner of the family.
I do not think that my mother experienced the same liberty the women in the unfinished revolution, because of my parents ideology on gender roles and because job opportunities did not open for her since she lacked an education. Like my grandparents generation, my parents’ Catholic faith is strongly associated with marriage; marriage is a sacred entity that should only be broken by death.
Regardless of the stressors in my parents’ marriage, they do not consider divorce because it goes against their faith, and in comparison, a U. S. couple in this time period would have a higher probability of divorce because divorce rates are stabilized at almost fifty percent. Overall, I do not think that there is much expressive individualism in my parents’ marriage; my parents’ primary interests are not self focused and in contrast their decisions always aim to benefit the family as a whole (Reed, 20016). I think this is due to Mexican culture because we value interdependence as opposed to U. S culture, which values independence.
As a young adult, I can see that family change within my generation is going to happen relatively later than it happened in my grandparents’ generation and in my parents’ generation. Both of the generations before mine married before the age of twenty-five, and again I think that this is due to culture and low socioeconomic status; I do not think I will marry until about my late twenties or even early thirties. I think that marriage in my generation will be delayed because I have the opportunity to attain a higher education and will pursue a master’s degree following my undergraduate education.
Consequently, I will be in the process of settling into my career and this prolonged education will most likely prolong my marriage. Likewise in my marriage, childbearing will also be delayed and we will have fewer children than previous generations. This coincides with the U. S. trends of the proliferation of women in the workforce — since more women are also in the workforce, they delay childbirth so that a pregnancy does not interfere with their career/education (Cohen, 2014). I think a marriage in my generation will be more equal in terms of financial contributions and gender roles will be more equal.
Thus, I think that in my generation the traditional family will diminish, especially in my marriage, and again this is in accord with U. S. trends as in 2012 according to a U. S. census only twenty-two percent of families retained the family structure of a male breadwinner and the stay-at-home wife (Cohen, 2014). As a stated previously, some of the ideologies in my family history have seeped through time and in my generation the Catholic faith is still present and I still consider marriage as a sacred entity.
Therefore, I would marry someone who shares this ideology and the probability of divorce in our marriage would decrease, this is contrary to U. S. trends, as divorce rates have settled at about fifty percent (Reed, 2016). In my generation I see more conformity to U. S. trends as opposed to the two previous generations. Cultural and financial reasons have been the motor of change in my in my family history, but there are definitely some U. S. trends that have influenced my family, especially, now that my parents generation and my generation now reside in the United States.
I think that future generations of my family will look very different from the three generations that I have analyzed in the trajectory of my analysis. Marriage is decreasing and cohabitation is increasing as previously mentioned and perhaps future generations will choose to not marry; this also implies that religion may be lost in the upcoming generations. “The heteronormative, biological family ideal has been losing its pride of place over the past few decades,” as Gamson explains same sex marriages are now more acceptable and this could influence future generations of my family (8).
In my generation, I have cousins who identify as gay/lesbian, but they will most likely not marry because their sexuality is strongly rejected by their families. In addition, As U. S. Iabor trends continue to require more education, I think that future generations will marry or begin cohabiting at a later age — probably during their thirties when they have achieved financial independence and will only have one or two children. I also think that the traditional family structure will be almost completely gone as more women continue to flood into the workforce, and this would create an even more equal household division of labor.
I also think that the hierarchy of genders will be leveled and both male and female will be even more equal. Overall change in my family over three generations has led to drastic outcomes in some aspects of family dynamics and these changes are due to certain influences/trends. I can only make predictions of what future generations will be like in terms of family change as U. S. trends continue to strongly shape the institution of family.