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Your Family History In Sociological Perspective

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Every family is differently from another. It is interesting to know through this, how each of our family’s history could possibly be related or influenced by the trends and changes that was happening during that time period. I will be talking about my own family, particularly three generations, starting from my grandma, my mom and me. I will be using articles and our lecture with Professor Joanna Reed as reference points to key terms and trends that I’m going to be talking about in this paper. Before that, there are some key terms that I will be talking about in my paper that may or may not be familiar with you that will be useful to understand what’s happening. Terms that you’re going to be reading all throughout my paper, that will be helpful to understand it more, are the following: Golden age marriage, also known as the long decade. This was during the 1950s to early 1960s wherein a man and a woman would get married and settle down and have their own nuclear family. Nuclear family, is a family that consists of a mom, dad and their children. Marriage gap, is the disparities among married and single people. Second shift, is a term and title of Arlie Hochschild’s book, this is when married couples who live under one roof and are both in the workforce have assigned chores to do at home, but the women of the household tend to have double the burden than men. Gendered division, is when there are norms in which are designated to the man and woman of a household. Men are to be wage earners, while women on the other hand stays at home and doing domestic work. In addition to lectures by Professor Joana Reed, I will also be using different works of literature, like the following: Labor’s Love Lost by Andrew Cherlin, Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage by Stephani Coontz, The Second Shift by Arlie Hochschild, Growing up with a single parent: What hurts, what helps by Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur and lastly, an additional source, Fertility Decline In The Philippines: Current Status, Future Prospects and lastly by Marilou Costello and John Casterline. At the end of this paper, I hope you’ll have a better understanding of how three generations in a family had similarities and differences and how it resonated with the trends and changes in the United States during the same time period.

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First Generation: Grandma Amelia

Between my grandparents on my mom’s side, I chose to talk about my grandmother. Through visiting the province often and through stories I’ve heard here and there. We had more of a chance to get to know her side of the family compared to my grandfather’s side. Her name is Amelia and she was born in June 14, 1944. Born and raised in a province in the northern part of the Philippines called Pampanga. She is the fourth child out of five kids. There was a girl to boy ratio of 4:1 amongst her siblings. Even at a young age, gender roles were prevalent. Girls were already taught how to work around the house. They knew how to wash clothes, cook, clean the house and other daily chores that they could be involved in. While boys, knew how to take more of real life chores outside of the house that would prepare them for the roles that they’re going to be taking once they grow older and ready to have their own families. Life in the province was harder than if you were to live in the city because there were more opportunities made and available for them.

She together with her family then later moved to Manila to have a better life and get an education and later on at twenty, she had her own family. They married in 1964, back then this time period was considered to be the “long decade” or the “golden age marriage” and they both waited to get married before having children. In the Philippines, there’s a negative connotation to people who are having children before getting married. It was ideal for people to get marred first before having children, but of course not everyone follows this, but as much as possible do it to avoid putting your family in the spotlight. My grandparents had their own nuclear family, that consists of my grandpa, grandma and their eight children. In the Philippines, during the 1950s-1960s it was normal during that time to have more than 6 children, but after that time period it declined (Costello and Casterline). When she married my grandpa, they clearly had a gender division that wasn’t really agreed upon, but was just a given because it was the norm. She was the one in charge of household work. and taking care of their children, while my grandpa was the one financially providing for the family. She obtained a college degree before she got married but never really got a chance to make a use out of it because she was too focused on taking care of her family. During the time period of the early 1960s, the golden age marriage was still prevailing. This was the time that my grandparents tied the knot. They believe that during this time, couples who start their private families, last for a long time. They lasted for 48 years, they could’ve probably lasted more if my grandfather hadn’t passed away. Childbearing for them on the other hand was way more than, how it was during that time period. They had a total of eight children, seven biological children and one adopted. Like majority of the couples, they too had rigid gender roles, wherein the man of the household provided, while the women took care of the family.

Second Generation: Mom Raquel

My mom’s name is Raquel and she was born in 1967. She was born in Manila already unlike her mom that was born in the province. Growing up, like how her mom was when she was a kid, despite being in the city already, she still learned how to take care of herself and of others. It was just the norm for girls to know how to cater to other people’s needs before their own. She is the only girl amongst her siblings. She was born during the time when having an education or a degree was an important contribution to your income.

All of them graduated college and obtained a degree. After getting her degree she worked at different jobs and she had me in 1996. She’s a single mom and never lived together with my dad. Later on she had my two brothers – we all have the same mom, but we had different dads. She married my brother’s dad and we lived with him for a couple of years, until my mom had to go to the United States to provide for the family and sacrifice the time she could’ve had with us. She stayed here in the United States illegally, until she met someone else and divorced my brother’s dad because things weren’t working out for them and married my stepdad. They were married for six years. My mom for a certain period of her life until now from time to time has never really felt the “Second Shift” because she has been doing things by herself. Yes, she may have someone to “depend” on because they’re married but it was the complete opposite. My mom is the only girl in the family besides my grandma, so just imagine the pressure that she had once she reached a certain age to take care of her brothers, no matter how old or young they are. Like the people in the United States during their time, women and men had strict gender roles. She also got a degree, but had three children and was unmarried. Comparing it the charts in Professor Reed’s first lecture, there was low percentage for unmarried college graduate women to have children, but in my mom’s case she had more kids than average women in that chart. It is unusual for someone to have children with different dads, but it still happens.

Third Generation: Justine and Siblings

I was born in 1996. I have two brothers, namely Anton and Russel. Right now, I’m twenty-on years old, Anton is twenty and Russel is fourteen. Anton and I don’t have such a big age gap, while Anton and Russel on the other hand have a six-year age difference. This can be compared to my mom’s age gap with her brothers. Her two older brothers are spaced a year apart with her and her youngest brother’s age difference with the person before the youngest was born was about 5-6 years. We were all born and raised in the Philippines and we all have the same mom, but different dads. Our mom was a single mom, majority of our lives. Even if we were in contact with our dads, our mom was our sole provider. At one point, my mom married my brother’s dad, but they ended up having to get a divorce. The divorce really affected us children because for a certain period of time we had someone who we could call “dad,” but when they separated we didn’t actually know where we stand.

At some point in our life too when our mom left for the United States to provide for us we were under the supervision of our grandparents. In Coontz article, she said that families vary because they are not all the same and organized the same. Some are raised by their own parents, but some can be raised by their grandparents. While my mom was in the United States working for a better future for our family, there was a point when she had to choose whether to send us to school or to make us stop studying for two years so she could petition us. She chose to stop sending us to school, it was a temporary sacrifice for a lifetime of opportunities here in the States. In Growing Up with A Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps by Mclanahan and Sandefur, they said that children who have had a family disruption may affect children’s social skills outside of the family. In this case, it personally didn’t affect me and Anton, but it was evident for Russel, until now that he is fourteen years old. Russel has a hard time conversing with some people at first and takes him awhile to communicate back. I think this is also the case with Russel because I think he is the most affected one when my mom and his dad divorced. He was the one who was really stuck in between the two of them and he was so young that he didn’t know want to do and how to navigate through it.

What do I think about the trends for the next generation to come? I think I am greatly influenced with the ideals of the people back in the Philippines of people getting married first before having their own families. Marrying someone also for me has a sense of assurance, like a security blanket of something that would stay for hopefully a long period of time. I also think that, gender roles would still be evident in the future generation to come because that is something that I am accustomed to and was taught to do growing up. For the most part, the three generations had a pattern, of getting an education, obtaining a job, marrying, having children and settling with their family. I wouldn’t want my family to be disrupted but of course, it is inevitable when it’s bound to happen. Writing this paper has made me acknowledge what has happened before me and notice the trends and changes that were already present in my family, but has gone unnoticed. I don’t think though, having to have known this trends by now, will greatly influence my future decisions or what’s going to happen in the next future generation.

03 December 2019

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