Changes In The American Family Values And Beliefs

1534 words - 7 pages

American family values and beliefs have changed over the past hundred years. There are various types of families nowadays, such as married couples with or without children, single parents, or stepparents with children, homosexual partners with adopted children, etc. There are three different time periods and three movements that illustrate the changes in American family values and beliefs. According to Lim and Smalzer (2008), “Sociologist Barbara Dafoe Whitehead labeled these three periods the period of Traditional Familism, the period of Individualism, and the period of The New Familism” (p.184). The three social and political movements in the second period, the period of Individualism, ...view middle of the document...

” Once in class she said, “A few years from now your sole responsibility will be taking care of your husband and children. You may all be here for an easy A, but the grade that matters the most is the one he gives you.” She believed that women should just stay at home to be a perfect housewife and devote herself to taking care of her husband and children.
The next time period is the period of Individualism. This period is from the mid-1960’s to the mid-1980’s. According to Lim and Smalzer (2008), “Individualism conveys the idea that one should think and act for himself or herself, according to what one feels is right”(p.184). “Individualism implies that one has the freedom to decide what is best rather than allowing that decision to be make by a group such as the community or society”(p.184). At the same time, Wetzel (1990) thought economic roles within the family have shifted significantly in the post-World War II years. Lim and Smalzer (2008) also said, “Women began to enter professions previously closed to them like medicine, law, and management. Men, for their part, began at least to consider a more active role in raising their children”(p.185). In Mona Lisa Smile, Katherine Watson talked with Joan about applying for Yale’s Law School. She said “But you haven’t really thought about it.” She encouraged Joan to think about her own future, but not only to be a housewife followed the community or society. Then in another scene, Katherine brought materials so Joan could apply to several law schools nearby Philadelphia. She told Joan, “You don’t have to choose…I just want you to understand that you can do both.” Here, Katherine depicted the female image of individualism that is she is free to decide what is best for her rather than follow decisions made for her by society. During this period, from the mid-1960’s to the mid-1980’s, there were numerous movements that happened, however there are three social and political movements that impacted the values and beliefs of the family during this period.
First is The Sexual Revolution. According to Lim and Smalzer (2008), “Sex was clearly no longer reserved for marriage” (p.185). It included growing acceptance of sex beyond heterosexual, premarital sex, and birth control, etc. At this time, divorce rates were higher than ever. Wetzel (1990) concluded, “The divorce rate is almost triple the rates of the 1920’s and 1930’s, and easily double the rates from 1950 through 1965”(p.7). In Mona Lisa Smile, Giselle Levy and Amanda Armstrong were the symbol of the sexual movement. One night in the girls’ dormitory, Giselle showed the girls birth control pills that Amanda gave her. Giselle kept an open attitude toward sex. In the movie, she slept with her Italian professor and kept a relationship with a married man. Meanwhile Amanda was lesbian. These actresses all demonstrated the values and beliefs of the sexual movement.
Second is The Women’s Liberation movement. According to Metzner (2009), “The women’s...

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