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Thread: Your definition of the "American" Family?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Your definition of the "American" Family?

    As I was sitting around the GF's grandparents' house in Idaho last weekend, I was observing her extended family and how they mingle at get-togethers. Most of them are from Southern California and I have always noticed a different aura around Californians, but that is besides the point right now.

    I was observing the events and people around me. Very patriotic and Republican(nttawwt). The women were in the kitchen and getting things ready while all the guys were watching the football game. There are a handful of current and former military people present and the food is very American. (Meat and potatoes, etc.)
    It was sort of strange to me, and very different from my family.I began thinking that this scene seems to be really American.

    But then a thought occured to me. Even though my family (my dad's side--that I spent the most time growing up with) had different traditions, didn't speak a lot of English, there was usually a soccer game on TV, and EVERYBODY helped in the preparations, I felt at home there, and it felt like "my" America. My family came to this great country in 1949, quickly learned English, got good jobs, and even obtained naturalized citizenship. While most of our foods and traditions (even holidays) were Hungarian, my grandparents were some of the PROUDEST Americans I knew, and would often wax poetic (with a heavy acsent) about their love for this country.

    So what is your definition of the American Family? What are your experiences?
    I am also curious about our foreign Cyburbians' thoughts on the subject.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    Man this is loaded.

    Honestly whatever is "family" to that person or group. Blood or chosen, alone or extended why does there have to be a "typical" at all?

    My little family my bf does the cooking and I do the planning and organizing, the food comes from all over the world. My dads family everyone helps with everything then sits around and tells stories and cracks jokes, foods are all over and normaly a few strays from schools, bases or co workers join in that have no family. My mothers family was very souther and drove me nuts-women cook, men hunt and kids just work the fields or animals.

    As Stitch puts it
    "its small its broken but its mine"
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

  3. #3
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Well, our ordinance states:
    Family:
    (1) One or more persons related by blood, marriage, adoption or guardianship, occupying a dwelling unit and living as a single nonprofit housekeeping unit; or a collective number of individuals living together in one dwelling unit, having a relationship which is functionally equivalent to a family.
    (2) The relationship must be of a permanent and distinct character, cooking as a single housekeeping unit with a demonstrable and recognizable bond characteristic of a cohesive unit.
    (3) This functional family shall not include any society, club, fraternity, sorority, association, lodge, organization, coterie, combine, federation, organization which is not a recognized religious order, or group of students or other individuals where the common living arrangement or basis for the establishment of the housekeeping unit is temporary and/or of resort-seasonal character in nature.
    (4) The term "family" does not include any adult foster care facility licensed under Public Act No. 218 of 1979 (MCL 400.701 et seq., MSA 16.610(51) et seq.) except an adult foster care family home as defined in section 3 of that act (MCL 400.703, MSA 16.610(53)).
    But sorrowfully, I think that the typical American family is one to two parents who have been married to other people at one point in time, often bringing one or more children from their previous marriages into this new family. Both parents each work an average of 40 hours per week and each commute an average of 23 hours per week. They owe more in loans than they own, and spend more than they make each year. They have an increasing debt and credit card bills and a decreasing life expectancy. They work out on average of 1.5 hours per month, and are typically 20 to 30 lbs over weight. They will have 1 to 2 kids that they share, and 2 to 3 that are one or the others biological children. They will have 4 vehicles and the kids will spend 4 times more time watching tv or playing video games than doing homework, playing sports, or reading.

    The family as a whole will drink 2 gallons of soda per day, eat 100 times more saturated fat than their parents family, and cook 30% less.

    At least one child will be on some medication for a social or mental ‘disability’, and at least one parent will have a heart condition by the age of 50.

    50% of them will not attend any type of religious service or worship, 25% will have committed a crime worthy of jail time, and 50% would have one or both parents cheat on the other.

    My family is not typical in any aspect.
    Last edited by michaelskis; 24 Oct 2005 at 3:53 PM.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  4. #4
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by PlannerGirl
    Man this is loaded.

    Honestly whatever is "family" to that person or group. Blood or chosen, alone or extended why does there have to be a "typical" at all?
    That was my first thought. Everybody is a little different. My inlaws include some friends of their's as family and are very close, including them in Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. I would even argue that the "chosen" families are closer than "blood" in many cases.

    A second question in you post seems to deal with gender roles in holiday events. Here's how Thanksgiving works in our family:

    Men exclusively handle breakfast that morning. It's usually pretty large & elaborate since we eat only twice usually on Thanksgiving.

    Women: generally in the kitchen working on the vegies, turkey, etc.
    Men: watching football game with TV trays in front of them to cut fruit up for the fruit salad.
    The oldest person, regardless of gender, always slices the turkey.

    Basically, holidays are a team effort in our family.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  5. #5
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by PlannerGirl
    Man this is loaded.

    Honestly whatever is "family" to that person or group. Blood or chosen, alone or extended why does there have to be a "typical" at all?
    Good thing I am not a writer.

    I did not mean for it to be a loaded question, basically I was asking about the family lives that are typical to all of us.
    Meaning, that we see families as being a certain way whether it is our own, a social perception, or what we see on TV.

    Basically, my thoughts this past weekend came to the point that the "Typical Family" is not typical at all, but what is typical to us.

    Did that clear anything? I guess along the lines of a What's your holiday tradition?thread, I was asking about what is typical with your family.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  6. #6
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    I am more interested in your statement about noticing a different "aura" around Californians. But that would probably be hijacking your thread.

    Do dogs and cats count in family? If so typically my family gets together and sniffs each others butts and occasionally barfs on the floor.

  7. #7
         
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    Interesting

    Both sides of my family have been in the US since the 1880's. They both were a traditional american family. Holidays were spent usually at the Houck grandparents with aunts and uncles over, usual stuff, women in the kitchen cooking, men at the TV watching football. In the evening, we went to the Wagner grandparents with the same setup.

    SO's parents were the same way.

    Republicans, I am the first democrat in the family.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman

    Basically, holidays are a team effort in our family.
    Ours, too. Except that the women always do every bit of the X-mas decorating (maybe with the kids' help, though).

    M'skis, it's a wonder you want a relationship, with the bleak picture you painted...

  9. #9
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    I don't think there is a true definition of the American family. While we all like to think of the American family as being the Cleavers, that's definitely not always true. There are so many divorces, single-parent situations, no-children marriages, people living with grandparents, people never even knowing grandparents, foster situations, different ethnicities, different traditions,...the list is endless.

    I think just as long as you embrace America and American values and some general traditions, you're an American family.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  10. #10
         
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    My particular family is odd. From anyones view it appears to be a day at Beaver Cleavers house. Very nice, proper, good appearances. Very superficial. When I read posts here about eveyone drinking with their parents; hanging out with them, etc it makes me sad. I live very close to my parents, see them at least once a week, talk to my mom everyday, but the "closeness" just isn't there. I try to be much closer and "honest" with my own boys.
    Holidays are always a "problem", no one wants to hold it at their house because of the kids or because one sister doesnt get along with the other, blah, blah, blah...so to end all the stupid bickering and try to make the holidays what they should be, I hold them at my house. I have the biggest house and I have two of the "rambunctious" kids. I enjoy having everyone here, I think it relieves the pressure off everyone else and it is pretty much fun. I do all the cooking with the help of my four aunts and other cousins..my Dad plays with the kids and jumps from room to room (high anxiety like me ) the other uncles sit around and chat a little.
    Weird enough but works for us.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    This Bear's grandparents on my Dad's side came from the part of the world that was known as Russia, Poland, Lithuania, or Germany.....depending on the year that you looked at the map. My grandparents from my Mom's side of the family came from the part of the world that was known as Germany or Poland.....again, depending on the year.

    Polish traditions were very strong on my Mom's side of the family, including the rhythmn method of birth control.....translation: Lots of cousins. Big Polish weddings (they went on for a couple days), giant family gatherings and picnics, a very strong Roman Catholic heritage, the Lagrange Street neighborhood of Toledo (one of two Toledo Polish 'hoods), day trips to amusement parks with a whole band of cousins, and the native tongue, spoken often. Generally speaking, most uncles were blue-collar workers and most aunts did not work.....just raised the large families.

    My Dad's side of the family did not stay in the Polish neighborhood. Perhaps, because they "felt" more Russian or Lithuanian. They scattered, and for the most part, went to university and on to professional occupations. Except for Christmas season, this side of the family did not stay close. Geography was the big killer, here. Cousins ended-up in Boston, southern Indiana, California, Connecticut.

    This Bear's present family includes an ambling Bear, wife Katie, her son Michael, my son Mathew, Mathew's wife, Maureen, and my granddaughters Anjelica and Luna Bella. My brothers live in suburban Cleveland and in suburban Toledo.

    Are we a family?

    We periodically get together. Not often.....probably because of the busy lives we all lead, as opposed to "lack of family". Are we similar to our families that walked along Lagrange Street back in the 1940's and 1950's? Nope. It is a different world and a much different U.S. of A.

    Are we Americans? Yes.

    We go to megamalls and major stores for shopping.....not the little Mom & Pop stores that used to be on most every corner. We drive everywhere.....not using the streetcar (as my grandparents did so many years ago). The radio programs that my grandparents and parents listened to are now nostalgic memories, replaced by the "boob tube".

    We are doing the same things most other Americaans are doing. Getting by.

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  12. #12
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jaxspra
    Holidays are always a "problem", no one wants to hold it at their house because of the kids or because one sister doesnt get along with the other, blah, blah, blah...
    I think that is also part of the "american family", it's just that no one talks about it. I love my family and we get along great. We do have our arguments, but will always get through them. Of course there is always the drama!

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN
    So what is your definition of the American Family?
    The Johnson Family
    "Son, I'm home!" "Hi daddy!" "Hi son! Hey, what do you say we go on a fishing trip?" "Really daddy? Oh yay!... But I have homework!" "That's okay, you can do it on the boat!" "Oh, you're the best daddy ever!" "Oh honey, isn't our son swell?" "Yes honey, isn't life swell?" "Yes honey!"
    OR

    The Bender Family
    Stupid worthless no good gd free loadin' son of a b***h retarded big mouth know it all a$$hole jerk! You forgot ugly lazy and disrespectful- shut up b**h! Go fix me a turkey pot pie! What about you dad? .....

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Grassroots's avatar
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    'nuff said.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails sanford.jpg  
    Jesse Ventura in 2012!

    "Inside every small problem is a big one trying to get government funding"

  15. #15
    view of an outsider:

    of course there are several existing cluichees, which are the following:

    There have to be at least 3 kids, 2 of which are overwhelmingly happy and shiny, one of which is alternate, dark or silly or whatever. Dad carries a canadian style lumberjack shirt or something that implies hot weather (depending on the location) and a baseball cap of the White Sox or Yankees or whoever. Mom is just as beautyful a woman in age can be. She always looks like she's shining for the fotographer, having a applepie in her hands and charming her kids. All the family is like a bunch of close gangsters, father is eating with only one arm on top of the table, the other one underneath the table (propably holding his colt)From time to time, all are jumping around Dad, who has organised tickets to the game, or kiss him goodbye for his fishing trip at the weekend. Meal Tables are always in round shape, so annoying grandma and strange grandpa can come for a visit and argue all the time with each other. And there's funny twists between the younger brother and the older sister. But in the end there's no question about the family is the most important thing in the world.


    Well, that's the image your sitcoms have spread all over the globe for decades. You won't get rid of that so soon

  16. #16
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    ^-- You're probably thinking of "Red Sox". They're the trendy coastal (Boston) team. Nobody liked the White Sox outside of Chicago and its immediate region until they got to the World Series.

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