150 years ago, approximately around 1886, electricity was becoming a very exciting thing as AC plants started to appear all over the world. This meant great change for not only our establishments but also, for families that were near it and could afford it. It was the dawn of aluminum, cars and now a better way of life with electricity, life was about to get more exciting as well as easier for many families. Around the time of the late 1800’s, under the idea of “separate spheres”, caring for children was looked at as a central part of most women’s lives.
The man was the breadwinner and the hunter and gatherer, providing the sustainable essentials for a family to survive. Marriage was viewed as a foundation of ones national morality. At the later part of the 1880’s the transition of substance farming to factory wage labor, redefined the husband’s role as a farmer to a commercial paying job. The stability and organization made a much better fit for many failing farmers at the time. Young children often sought out these same factory jobs and at times were injured or killed in factory jobs, trying to do the same jobs as the grown men that worked there.
The downside of factory wage jobs to many families would be that certain farmers would not have the monopoly on resources that they needed to make a living. These transactions would spread to the later 1800’s as industrial capitalism spread and created more jobs for immigrants than the actual landowners themselves. The “separate sphere” idea was the reality of the most challenging effect of this movement as it created he separation of family that occurred as a result of husbands and wives now working in separate enterprises.
The husband now would leave home and go exchange his manual labor for wages as the wife would stay home and raise children as well as maintain the home itself. This had to cause relationship strain and an urge of depression amongst many relationships, causing a working unit to divide does just that. There were many families’ that were created out of convenience, not so much a personal relationship primarily bonded out of love but rather a way to merge businesses family names and create an internal labor force, these families would be effected the most from the dawn of factory jobs and separating of family enterprise.
The early 1900’s created a new form of family, the private family. This created a more sheltered and quiet family life. Woman were now allowed to work outside jobs as well as start their own practices now that there were less children and sometimes none to care for. There was a decline in birthrate as well as an increase in divorce rate, no longer did woman have to settle to survive and women no longer had to have a husband to provide for them. By the 1920’s, premarital sex had increased and birth control pioneers were opening clinics.
The youth was rebelling and were now going out and dressing eccentrically as well as wearing makeup and dancing at dance halls and other gathering, no longer was there a need to stay at a centrally located home to care for a family and wait for dinner. This was a revolutionary time in history where people had extreme hope for the future and women, finally had a shot at true requited love and freedoms they had not known in the years before. As new advances in medicine increased in the early 1900’s a new standard of living had successfully contributed to increasing our adult life span.
From 1900 to the mid 1900’s Parents were having kids at a younger age and living longer after their children had left the home, resulting in a new phase, the “empty nest phase” and this continued on over time. Smaller homes were created for smaller families and eventually led to the creation of apartments and single bedroom homes. Prosperity of early decades became inevitably interrupted by the Great Depression of 1929. Causing severe effect on family finance as well as factory’s shutting down and people losing jobs everywhere.
Just as an economic depression, it was also a time of physical depression as people became unstable and unable to maintain their expenses. This cause yet another spike in divorce rates and created even more broken homes. Children were working more and youths were joining the army and being shipped off, often times to never return. A once close family was dealing with not only depression but the trials of having to deal with death in the family as well as the emptiness of a broken family structure that was once close and enjoyable. The 1950’s created the nuclear age and set a precedent for the modern American family.
This was the age to return the woman to the household but this time, we rewarded them with new age appliances and cutlery. Aluminum gadgets, plastic sandwich bags and Tupperware were the trophies of the perfect modern housewife. Andrew Cherlin of the New York Times states: The young adults of the 50’s carried the lasting effects of growing up during the Great Depression and the war. As children, many had seen their fathers lose their jobs and their families struggle to make ends meet. It may be that some children of the Depression came to view strong families as especially desirable because hard times had weakened so many families.
Then came the war, which again disrupted families. Finally, the postwar economic boom at last brought a change in luck. It provided the prosperity that allowed people to satisfy their desire for stability at work and at home. ” (Chelrin) Over the next 66 years to modern time, we find ourselves in the position that both the husband and wife play a dual part in the workplace. It now takes two incomes to sustain a modern family. Woman are marrying woman and men are marrying men, people are choosing not to ever marry or have children, others are adopting more to combat the issues of not being able to physically have children.
While the cost of living has definitely gone up, the value of the dollar has dropped considerably. We fear our own government at times as well as the people we put in charge to police our communities. We have become as private as ever as families yet more social than ever as individuals due to social media and the advent of the internet and computers & smart phones. Separated once again by society and our families yet working harder than ever just to stay afloat, all while scared out of our minds about who will become president next, what terrorist group will attack where next and when the next great American catastrophe will happen next.
We have a voice that never gets heard, family life that recreates itself every 10 years and children that are out of control, and due to the lack of stable family life, unfortunately are reared into a world without the knowledge of compassion, manners, a sense of family and most importantly ethical common sense. I fear that families will continue to progressively get as bad as we allow our surroundings to get, meaning, we really have little say over how it will inevitably end up.
We can choose to do the best for our family unit as best we can and hope they teach and pass the same down to their own children, but unless everyone upholds this dying art, it will get lost in the times, just as the union of family got separated in the past. Unless we teach our families to stay together, despite the times, they will forever remain separated and no longer uphold the values we started for families on this continent. We have to uphold the past to understand the future.