Social Question

chucklmiller's avatar

Where has the "American family" gone?

Asked by chucklmiller (386 points ) February 3rd, 2010

It seems to me that the traditional family (husband, wife, children) has gone by the way side. Unwed teen mothers, poverty-level people having (multiple) children they cannot support, etc., seem to be far more common in present-day America. As a result, education, the economy, and other elements of American life have been negatively impacted. Do you agree and, if so, how can we reverse this trend?

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95 Answers

Snarp's avatar

I don’t agree. I think it’s just that those things are highly visible in the media. There are still plenty of traditional families out there, but they don’t make the news as often.

mammal's avatar

arrest the corrosive effects of rampant materialism, that is the cause of such social evils.

erichw1504's avatar

They’re watching TV and surfing the web. Who needs a family when you can be raised by the media? They already tell us what to wear and how to look, why not tell us how to grow up and what to learn?

Dr_Dredd's avatar

The demise of the American family has been greatly exaggerated.

noyesa's avatar

There are plenty of traditional families out there and un-traditional ones have been around since the dawn of time—there was just no reason to scapegoat anything (the internet, the television) before so people weren’t coming up with ill-conceived consequences.

life_after_2012's avatar

lead by example to all walks of life, thats means we will have to do alot of forgiving first, just so we can see past our diffrences, but i also believe in america period. so im sure our positive principles will with stand the test of time.

chucklmiller's avatar

@noyesa “un-traditional [families] have been around since the dawn of time” ? Please explain…

Snarp's avatar

@chucklmiller Would it be better if @noyesa had said “un-traditional ones have been around since the dawn of tradition”?

CaptainHarley's avatar

The recent demise of the American family has been greatly exaggerated. I have five grown children, all of whom are employed, all but one of them is married. Three of them have children of their own, all of whom seem so far to be normal, happy, healthy, intelligent children. Almost all of their friends are in similar circumstances. Anecdotal, yes, but very real.

MissAnthrope's avatar

Cultural norms change. I might add that even in the 50’s when the nuclear family was the norm, dad worked, mom was a homemaker, there were plenty of people that didn’t fit the norm.

chucklmiller's avatar

@Snarp wow…I guess so. So when was the dawn of “tradition”. (Man this is getting deep).

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Like “Leave it to Beaver” or “Ozzie and Harriet”? Meh.~

Qingu's avatar

@chucklmiller, you made two assertions:

“Unwed teen mothers, poverty-level people having (multiple) children they cannot support, etc., seem to be far more common in present-day America.”

“As a result, education, the economy, and other elements of American life have been negatively impacted.”

I fail to see any evidence backing up either. Do you have any?

kevbo's avatar

They’re on “Wife Swap” twice a day.

Nullo's avatar

I blame the shift in ideology that resulted in more widespread acceptance of cohabitation.

chucklmiller's avatar

@Qingu Sure. The fist one I see first-hand on a daily basis (I’m in education). The second one can be backed up by numbers. Think of the MILLIONS we (you and I) spend each year to support Welfare, Medi-Care (or Medicade, I forget), etc. to support the lifestyles of the people who cannot do it themselves. I agree that these programs are needed, to an extent, but they are also abused to a far greater extent.

josie's avatar

As the government strips more and more capital out of the economy, it becomes more and more expensive for the traditional family unit to exist. It was easier to hold together when one person generated adequate income, while another managed the home economy and children to school age. The traditional family dynamic changes when nobody is home all day and the kids are raised by surrogates. I know this is regarded as an archaic notion these days, but my point is economic, not sociological.

Qingu's avatar

@chucklmiller, you said,

“The fist one I see first-hand on a daily basis (I’m in education).”
Um, that’s not “evidence,” that’s a personal anecdote. And a pretty vague one.

“The second one can be backed up by numbers.”
...so, cite them. Screaming the word “welfare” isn’t evidence; it doesn’t even make sense. There were poor people before there was public welfare.

Qingu's avatar

@josie, do you know what the marginal tax rates were in the 1950’s? During the era of this supposedly mythical traditional American family?

Take a look.

chucklmiller's avatar

@Qingu If you disagree that the “American family” isn’t what it used to be (better then, worse now) then I believe you’re ignoring the obvious.

HTDC's avatar

It’s all part of the Zeitgeist of the 21st Century.

Qingu's avatar

@chucklmiller, that’s great. You’re of course entitled to your beliefs.

Some people likewise believe it’s “obvious” that the sun revolves around the earth. And they, like you, are entitled to their beliefs.

What you’re not entitled to is your own facts. And if you have zero evidence to back up your beliefs, why should anyone care what you believe?

tinyfaery's avatar

Better for whom? The man who had ultimate control or women who had no lives beyond mother and wife? Better for children who saw their parents stay together even though they were miserable or children who had to obey their parents even when it was detrimental to their own well-being?

And what America are you referring to? I believe WASPs are what you are talking about. America has never been completely Anglo and the traditional families of the “others” might not look like good ol’ Norman Rockwell.

Ugh.

Snarp's avatar

I think it was easier to ignore the problems with poverty and education in this country when they could easily be partitioned off into segregated neighborhoods and schools, and before the people in these neighborhoods got sick and tired of being treated like they were less than human.

Qingu's avatar

He might also be talking about the pre-1920’s traditional American family, back when women lacked the right to vote.

It would be nice if @chucklmiller defined precisely what he meant by “American family.” Father-knows-best Leave it to Beaver-style? Western frontier style? Slave-owning colonist style? Slave-style? What?

chucklmiller's avatar

@Qingu ”.. why should anyone care what you believe?” Ouch! The things I see on a first-hand basis, every day, can be considered fact. If you see a tree in your yard do you need “evidence” that it’s there or can’t you pretty much believe what your eyes see?

I’m not writing my dissertation here so I don’t think I’m going to be citing any sources to support my belief, professor. Thank you for “caring what I believe” (even though you disagree) and thereby responding so fervently.

HTDC's avatar

@Qingu In regards to your link:

Wow and I thought I had seen it all…

Qingu's avatar

@chucklmiller, the things you see on a first-hand basis may be facts, but they are anecdotal. They do not pertain to the incredibly broad generalizations you are making anymore than my personal, anecdotal experience in education do.

It’s like arguing that all dogs are vicious based on your personal experience with a rabid pitbull.

See anecdotal evidence

Snarp's avatar

@chucklmiller Let me state this a little more politely than @Qingu tends to: The fact that you see problems with education on a daily basis does not mean that education problems have actually gotten worse. Given the fifties and early sixties as most people’s example of the heyday of the traditional American Family, we have to ask if you were working in education then? Even if you were, education then took place in segregated schools and large numbers of Americans, black and white, who were poor had little to no access to schools at all, much less quality schools.

chucklmiller's avatar

@Qingu @tinyfaery The “family” I’m referring to is not bounded by racism, segregation, or sexism. Just “traditionalism”. Mom, dad, the kids….sitting around the table discussing the school day. Those days are gone (for the most part) and it’s my belief we’re worse-off because of it.

tinyfaery's avatar

Traditional means different things to different cultures. What you are describing is not the Latino culture I or my parents, or their parents parents grew up in. You have no point. The word traditional has no absolute meaning.

And I am speaking of the Latino culture in America.

Qingu's avatar

@chucklmiller, why do you think less “moms, dads, and kids” sit around the table nowadays?

Why do you think, even if this were true, that we’re “worse off” because of it?

You haven’t really explained or supported your beliefs, you’ve just repeated them.

J0E's avatar

The only reason that’s considered “traditional” is because that’s how things were. Times change.

gemiwing's avatar

In my experience, traditionalism is sexism and racism.

The American family is a myth as far as I’m concerned. It was concocted up in the fifties as a revival of the Victorian era.

It’s easier to advertise to a ‘typical’ family than a real one.

Also, women having the right to divorce while keeping property, earn their own income and seek domestic abuse relief has changed the face of the ‘typical’ American family.

I would also request you cite your sources when complaining about those horrible poor people who are so gluttonously living off of welfare. The ‘welfare mom with ten kids’ is an urban myth that has been used by politicians to scare people. Yes, there are people who scam but so do rich white people living in penthouses. More children are helped and more children are alive simply because their parents receive government aid.

I would ask for your sources simply because there is so much information out there that is false and it’s easier to discuss facts rather than emotional responses.

Snarp's avatar

Also, I always say that every generation tends to long for the good old days, to think things just aren’t the way they used to be, and every generation is mostly wrong. We see the past through a positive filter of nostalgia, and the present through the negative filter of a media selling sensational headlines. While there are some good and some bad changes and some indifferent, and in spite of some notable setbacks, in general progress has been positive for the nation (and the world) as a whole.

MissAusten's avatar

Last night as my husband and I sat around the dinner table talking to our kids about their school days, I started to worry that by not following my parents’ tradition of eating dinner on TV trays while watching “The A Team” or “Dukes of Hazzard” I might be depriving my children of a traditional American upbringing. To make up for it, I threw out all the fresh organic fruit, bought some canned fruit (in heavy syrup, of course), picked up some TV trays and frozen dinners, got a new belt and wooden spoon for beating the children, and changed bedtime from 7:30 to 10:00. Now they can grow up just like I did!

ubersiren's avatar

Husband+wife+children= family means nothing to me. Poverty and teen pregnancy are issues in and of themselves and have nothing to do with the American family. I care not to reestablish any certain “kind” of arrangement as normal, traditional, acceptable, or not.

Qingu's avatar

“Children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”

Guess where this quote is from.

CMaz's avatar

I agree.

And, kiss society (as we have known it) goodbye.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@Qingu Something from Dickens?

Qingu's avatar

Nope.

chucklmiller's avatar

@Qingu…Red Skelton?

Qingu's avatar

No. Still cold.

tinyfaery's avatar

Myuwha. Kiss goodbye. Good riddance.

Qingu's avatar

Correct. Well, Socrates as the character-mouthpiece of Plato.

The same Plato who, iirc, bitched about how new technology—writing—was negatively impacting his society because it meant people wouldn’t have to memorize oral works.

Point being, people have been whining about “the kids these days” and “the demise of traditional society” since before Christ and probably a lot longer. The world changes. Typically for the better. I suggest getting over it. :)

Symbeline's avatar

I don’t think that the traditional American family has ever really gone anywhere, if only because back when it was primordial in defining American culture, it wasn’t as perfect as everyone seems to think it was to begin with.

Factotum's avatar

@Qingu According to a Harvard University study, the number of children in the U.S. living without fathers rose from nine million in 1960 to 24 million today. Estimates from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicate that as many as 60 percent of U.S. children currently live without their biological father. This fatherlessness has devastating consequences for children. Nearly 75 percent of children in single-parent households will suffer poverty before age 11, compared with 20 percent of children from intact families, according to the Journal of Marriage and Family. The percentage of U.S. children growing up in poor families is higher today than when President Johnson declared a “war on poverty” in 1966. Data show compellingly how children who grow up without fathers are more likely to fail in school or drop out, develop behavioral or emotional problems requiring treatment, abuse drugs and alcohol, and become sexually active. Further, the absence of fathers has been shown greatly to increase violence perpetrated by the young, including rape, murder, and suicide. Fatherless children are also more frequently the victims of child abuse and neglect.

There are many reasons for an increase in fatherlessness in the U.S. and the West. The revolutions in sexual mores in the 1960s, coupled with extreme forms of feminism, tended toward the separation of childbearing from marriage. The entertainment industry has gone from portraying fathers overwhelmingly as wise heads of households to showing them as buffoons or non-entities. Yet the influence of these factors on fatherlessness pales compared with the influence of the welfare state.

Among communities dominated by the welfare system, fatherlessness is rampant. Today, fully 90 percent of U.S. families receiving cash welfare from government are without a father in the home.
http://www.acton.org/commentary/commentary_36.php

The Main Thing: The relationship between family structure and crime is so strong that controlling for family configuration erases the relationship between race and crime and between low income and crime. This conclusion shows up time and again in the literature.
Source: E. Kamarck, William Galston, Putting Children First, Progressive Policy Inst. 1990

A myriad of maladies. Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, suicide, poor educational performance, teen pregnancy, and criminality.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics, Survey on Child Health, Washington, DC, 1993.

Expelled: Nationally, 15.3 percent of children living with a never-married mother and 10.7 percent of children living with a divorced mother have been expelled or suspended from school, compared to only 4.4 percent of children living with both biological parents.
Source: Debra Dawson, “Family Structure…”, Journal of Marriage and Family, No. 53. 1991.

Likeliest to succeed: Kids who live with both biological parents at age 14 are significantly more likely to graduate from high school than those kids who live with a single parent, a parent and step-parent, or neither parent.
Source: G.D. Sandefur (et al.), “The Effects of Parental Marital Status…”, Social Forces, September 1992.

Worse to bad: Children in single-parent families tend to score lower on standardized tests and to receive lower grades in school. Children in single-parent families are nearly twice as likely to drop out of school as children from two-parent families.
Source: J.B. Stedman (et al.), “Dropping Out,” Congressional Research Service Report No 88–417. 1988.

College odds: Children from disrupted families are 20 percent more unlikely to attend college than kids from intact, two-parent families.
Source: J. Wallerstein, Family Law Quarterly, 20. (Summer 1986)

Underpaid high achievers: Children from low-income, two-parent families outperform students from high-income, single-parent homes. Almost twice as many high achievers come from two-parent homes as one-parent homes.
Source: “One-Parent Families and Their Children;” Charles F. Kettering Foundation (1990).

Con garden: Forty-three percent of prison inmates grew up in a single-parent household—39 percent with their mothers, 4 percent with their fathers—and an additional 14 percent lived in households without either biological parent. Another 14 percent had spent at last part of their childhood in a foster home, agency or other juvenile institution.
Source: US Bureau of Justice Statistics, Survey of State Prison Inmates. 1991

Rearing rapists: Seventy-two percent of adolescent murderers grew up without fathers. Sixty percent of America’s rapists grew up the same way.
Source: D. Cornell (et al.), Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 5. 1987. And N. Davidson, “Life Without Father,” Policy Review. 1990.

The Main Thing: The relationship between family structure and crime is so strong that controlling for family configuration erases the relationship between race and crime and between low income and crime. This conclusion shows up time and again in the literature.
Source: E. Kamarck, William Galston, Putting Children First, Progressive Policy Inst. 1990

Was this what you were looking for?

chucklmiller's avatar

Yeah. What he said.

I guess I’m just turned off by seeing children starting out at a disadvantage (from my perspective) by the lack of support they receive. Too many come from a weak or non-existant family structure. Maybe that’s not too blame, but it seems that way to me…

gemiwing's avatar

I also blame our apparent glee with putting non-violent offenders in prison. Of course, with minorities in the lead which only causes the spiral to go further, in my opinion.

Qingu's avatar

So there’s this concept called “correlation without causation.”

Reading your data it seems more reasonable to conclude that poverty is the underlying cause of fatherlessness, lack of education, and the other “negative impacts” to society. Poor people generally also do not use birth control as much as wealthier people, and are less able to afford abortion… so, they end up with more children, per capita. Meaning “more children grow up in poverty.”

How can you prove you haven’t got the cart before the horse?

Qingu's avatar

To illustrate the “correlation without causation” concept:

Your article implies that welfare causes fatherlessness because there’s a high (90%) correlation between the two. But what on earth would the mechanism for this cause be? You could just as easily conclude that fatherlessness causes the need for welfare. Or you could conclude that some underlying factor causes both.

There is a high correlation between smoking cigarettes and getting lung cancer. You wouldn’t say “therefore, having lung cancer must make you want to smoke cigarettes.”

Snarp's avatar

That’s still a small minority of children growing up fatherless, it is evidence of a potential problem, but not evidence that the traditional American family has disappeared or is even in danger of becoming the minority family type.

chucklmiller's avatar

….where did I put the cap to this worm can?

Snarp's avatar

@chucklmiller I think we’ve all asked that question before.

wundayatta's avatar

How old is this discussion? Does anyone really actually have anything new to say? Isn’t this just a political divide question? Superstition and religion vs science and relativism? Don’t we have better things to do with our time?

Sorry about the tone of that last question. I actually do kind of wonder about the answer to that question. I mean, why are these kinds of questions so attractive?

tinyfaery's avatar

These questions, imho, are just soap boxes and not real questions. The questioner did not want an answer. He already had one.

nikipedia's avatar

I don’t really understand your logic here. Are you suggesting that if we required men and women to 1. marry each other and 2. produce children, society would be somehow improved?

CMaz's avatar

There were always “issues” in society. They have just gotten worse.

Every new generation, has a new “American Family”. That “new” family does not want to see itself as dysfunctional or worse off then the past.
Always a new approach, and a new way of seeing things.

You either kid yourself because you do not know better or you just do not want to know.

Snarp's avatar

So let’s get to the last part of the question. Let’s assume for a moment that all of society’s troubles (or at least a good number) are caused by the break down of the traditional family. The last part of the question was “how can we reverse this trend?” For those of you who do agree with the premise of the question, or others interested in a little devil’s advocacy, what would you propose that we do about it?

CMaz's avatar

“what would you propose that we do about it?”

It is a snow ball rolling down a hill.

susanc's avatar

Maybe we should compare the amount of Stuff even “poor” families now have with the amount of Stuff poor families had in the 20’s, 30’s – before the war, which made most of us rich by comparison, as wars always do (unless you lose).
No labor-saving devices. No entertainment in the home (unless you could play the piano or the pump-organ or the guitar or the fiddle, etc.). No cars, in many cases; certainly not multiple cars. Much less home ownership. Renting wasn’t considered tacky. Lots of perfectly decent people rented.
Just examples. My thought is – and it’s not as exalted as a “point”, it’s just a thought -
that what we expect, now that we all have televisions to tell us what we COULD have if we just took out another loan, makes us all feel poor; and makes us mad at people who
are getting some help with it.
Spoken like a true WASP, I guess.
Which I’m humiliated to say I am.

Judi's avatar

I haven’t read all the post’s yet, so excuse me if I repeat someone.
The American family has been in a state of change since the industrial revolution. Before that, fathers worked on family farms, helping to raise the children and instill their families moral code.
When the husband went to work in the factories Mom was home raising the kids and passing on family traditions.
Mom went to work and the family support wasn’t always there, so we set up daycare centers to help us raise our children.
I am not making judgments, good or bad about the effects of these changes, but people who scream, “I want my Country back,” make no since to me.
We have been fluid and changing since our inception. The ability to embrace change is one of our greatest strengths. What period of our rapidly changing history do they want back?

Qingu's avatar

Mom also worked on the pre-industrial family farm. Sewing, repairing, cooking, etc.

The postwar period is actually an exception to most of history where both parents have to work to support their families. And I imagine the image of only the dad working from the 50’s is probably a mythical exaggeration to begin with.

liminal's avatar

@tinyfaery I also think he forgets about orphan trains.

nicobanks's avatar

I think you are suffering from the illusion of an ideal past. False nostalgia. Really, the world wasn’t better before: you just didn’t know much about it, so since you had a good life (presumably), the world seemed good to you.

Poverty-stricken families having too many children… that, at least, is certainly nothing new!

CaptainHarley's avatar

@nicobanks

Well, I was there when things were better, and they truly were better. Some possible reasons for this: there are more people crowded into bigger cities, with the attendand anonymity; the entire atmosphere ( movies, books, Internet, etc. ) is far more permissive, with no common moral compass to navigate by; parents are either too busy trying to keep body and soul together to spend the sort of time with kids that they use to; the middle class is caught in a tax squeeze between the non-working poor and the tax-escaping rich; government, in its attempt to substitute for parents, intervenes more and more in the private lives of citizens; drugs are a convenient, albiet illusory, escape: and the list goes on.

What can be done about all this? I have some ideas, but that’s all they are, ideas. Should we just give up and play dead? I will never believe that. We can overcome these problems just as we overcame the Great Depression, two World Wars, and the Cold War. In my humble opinion, those now in grade school have the makings of another Greatest Generation, but they are going to need our support.

Nullo's avatar

I’m happy to say that I was fortunate enough to have grown up in the classic American nuclear family. My dad worked full-time, my mom worked part-time, and we did a lot as a family, from dinner to outings to watching Star Trek . Frankly, I can’t imagine anything – except possibly more extended family, or a more kid-infested neighborhood (we lived on a busy street that connected with the highway) – making the setup better while remaining functional.
I think that anybody who suggests that a single-parent family is better – especially after seeing so many! – ought to rethink their position.

MissAusten's avatar

I don’t think anyone is suggesting a single parent family is better, just that it isn’t a one-way ticket to a life of crime and poverty.

Qingu's avatar

@Nullo, I’m curious why you think anyone should care what someone who has supported ethnic cleansing considers a “better” upbringing.

Qingu's avatar

@CaptainHarley, if you’re going to talk about “moral compass,” I’d like to know what you have in mind.

McCarthyism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, misogyny, racism, and Cold War xenophobia dominated the era of the “traditional family” you’re deifying. Is that your conception of a “moral compass”?

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Qingu

I have no idea why you come across as so bitter, or why you are so misinformed, but just to set only one of your msconceptions right, I definitely do NOT “deify” any particular era.

Nullo's avatar

@Qingu
Oy, that again.
At the risk of derailing the thread, it’s no more ‘ethnic cleansing’ than is shipping criminals to jail.

YARNLADY's avatar

I think what people here are getting at is that the current economic depression has nothing to do with a formula family (husband + wife + 2.5 children = family), but rather the cause can be placed solely in the economic realm.

Poverty in the U.S. are the result of unemployment, drugs/alcohol, crime, and poor education, and has very little to do with a so-called traditional family. We cannot stop it until the people in power learn to fight the causes, rather than treat the symptoms.

chucklmiller's avatar

@CaptainHarley…I’m SO glad you became part of this conversation.

chucklmiller's avatar

@tinyfaery…It was more of a simple discussion question than just a “problem” I wanted to solve. Discussing issues like this is healthy, don’t you think?

CaptainHarley's avatar

@chucklmiller

Thank you, although I’m unsure why you say that. : )

chucklmiller's avatar

@CaptainHarley This discussion needed someone who had “been there”.

CMaz's avatar

I had been there.
I lived in a neighborhood that was full of stay at home mothers.
At the age of five it was not an issue to be wondering around, going from block to block.
The school yard was full of kids before video games and computers came along. All ages and your friend was your brother or sisters friends brother or sister.
There was always a mother around. They watched each others kids. If my mother had to run an errand,
there was always another mother with kids that would watch me.

The fathers all worked and they came home and then we had dinner. A common routine is most homes I was in.
Even the less fortunate families in the neighborhood had the same dynamic.
It was a constant not only in my neighborhood but my town.
My weekends were usually on the bay with my dad, in a bay full of people you knew. Or he would take me and my siblings to work with him.
Now that was fun!

Yes, there was always issues. Teen pregnancy, spousal abuse, mothers without a man, divorce and daycare.
But it was not the norm.

There was a time that we had block parties. Where all these families got together because all their children played together.
We actually socialized with our neighbors. It was sort of an extended family.
I grew up not having to fear much of anything. Even when there was plenty to fear.

That is the “American family” I grew up with.

noyesa's avatar

@chucklmiller I think it was pretty obvious that I meant “non-traditional families have been around for a long time”, and normally I wouldn’t respond. But, in a religious context I’m totally right: Abraham concieves a child with his wife’s servant, Cain kills able—not exactly traditional. Beginning of TIME! HAH!

/endsarcasm

Factotum's avatar

@Qingu Mom also worked on the pre-industrial family farm.

True, but the salient feature is that she was home and available to the children. Indeed during the ‘50s mothers worked in the house.

It seems likely that poverty can contribute to single-parent families but single-parent households are poorer because there are fewer resources.

“According to the Census Bureau, children whose parents divorce are almost twice as likely to drop into poverty than they were before the marital split. Overall, children whose fathers leave the home see their household incomes plummet by 26 percent.”

Qingu's avatar

@Factotum, which is why it’s important for divorced fathers to pay child support, and for both parents to work instead of idealizing a “stay at home mom” situation.

Nullo's avatar

@Qingu
I dunno if a mom should necessarily work, though, if she’s not divorced. Money isn’t the only thing that determines the quality of one’s life, especially when growing up, and mothers strike me as the more immediately necessary parents.

nicobanks's avatar

@CaptainHarley Certainly you can disagree with me, but when you say “I was there,” that makes me think you missed my point. My point is that people remember things as better than they actually were.

YARNLADY's avatar

It’s quite clear that the “I was there” folks did not grow up in the Barrios of Los Angeles, or New York’s Harlem, or Chicago’s West Side, or South Central L. A. and the list could go on and on. Most of us from those times never realized just how insulated we were, when the worst thing that happened at school was a boy wearing a leather jacket was caught smoking a cigarette outside the designated area.

The freeways, the increasing opportunities for women in the workplace, the accessibility of world wide news, the Vietnam war fought by draftees, all brought us out into the ‘real’ world of conflict, poverty, and yes, consumerism.

The so-called third world countries could be considered the baby of the human family, while the first world countries have entered into the adolescent phase. I can only hope we live long enough to ‘grow up’.

nicobanks's avatar

@YARNLADY Exactly; I think many people don’t realize that their happy little world was not the world – they were insulated, like you said, and when they look back on the world, they only look back on their memories, not with the greater knowledge they now have.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@nicobanks

I’m not sure I can separate my perceptions of what life was like then from any sort of “actuality.” I was, after all, very young. But I do know that my friends and I played outside in the streets until well after eleven sometimes… unsupervised, that the worst “bullying” I recieved was having some nutcase throw sand in my eyes, that I never even heard of pedophiles, and that the most “risque” thing on TV was Elvis.

Symbeline's avatar

@CaptainHarley I certainly hope you’re not trying to say that pedophiles back then didn’t exist.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Symbeline

Uh… no, I meant exactly what I said, “I never even HEARD of pedophiles.”

Factotum's avatar

@Qingu Not really. Child support is less money and resources than the child would have with both parents home. Two parents save money by living in the same house where two houses with separate utilities bills cost considerably more than one.

@YARNLADY Nope, the Captain and I didn’t grow up in the barrios or in Harlem. Neither did you. I imagine if you actually talked to people who lived there they would also tell you that things were better then than they are now.

It’s like this: I grew up in a neighborhood. I haven’t seen a neighborhood for years now.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Factotum I was just going to point out that I live in a neighborhood exactly like the one I grew up in. Children here play in the streets, when they go out, they walk over to the mall, we all get together at the Fourth of July fireworks, and the local parade. Our city park has a sleep-in camping night once a year. The recreation department has events in the summer for the townspeople to get together and take a bus to the county fair, and the State Fair.

The neighbor kids play in each other’s pools in the summer. If you drop in at the local Starbucks, you’ll see someone you know. We have a tree lightening ceremony every year. I can hear the cheers from the High School football game from my house. Most of my neighbors even go to the same church. I live in a city of nearly 90,000 surrounded by a metropolitan area of over 2 million.

I can assure you that growing up in South Central Los Angeles was nothing like what you and I knew. I was an emergency foster care provider for several years in the early 1960’s and I lived within ear shot of the Watts riots of 1965. The guns sounded like popcorn, all day and all night long. This occurred a scant 4 years after I graduated high school in Denver Colo.

nicobanks's avatar

@CaptainHarley I believe it, but I also believe there are still children who live lives like this and, just like you weren’t, they aren’t aware there is another – worse – world out there.

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