Man of the House – America In Primetime

http://www.pbs.org/america-in-primetime/episodes/man-house/

What does it mean to be the man of the house?

Society has evolved incredibly over the past few decades, and while women have broken out of their limits and have changed the definition of the modern, independent woman, men have become increasingly confused over their role in the family and burdened by what it means to be a man in today’s society. Quite justifiably, too. There is so much more that society expects from men now – to be financially capable, sensitive, aggressive, available, nurturing, and helpful with household chores. I never realized before how the changing definition of what it means to be a dad could be so stressful and intimidating, but it helps me understand my dad and why it took so much time and energy for our family dynamic to change. When faced with change, the worst thing to do is avoid it. I understand that society has many more expectations for men now, and that it is difficult and exhausting to meet all these expectations. But women have been dealing with it all their lives – just as young boys are told that big boys don’t cry, young girls are taught to be skinny, pretty, and presentable. The best thing to do is not to conform, but to decide for yourself who you want to be. So society tells you that men should be sensitive but aggressive depending on the situation, and that confuses the hell out of you. Be who you want to be, who you decide to be, and take responsibility for it. Down the line, you’ll learn, you’ll experience, and you might change yet again, but there’s no reason to feel burdened by labels and expectations.

Growing up in an Asian setting, my parents were exactly as couples were depicted on television in the sixties. My parents’ roles were clearly defined, and I don’t remember ever seeing my dad cook, clean, do laundry, or even help during my childhood. The table was set and everyone was seated before he got to the dinner table, and even during meals my mom would get up multiple times to get water or to refill the plates. For some reason, though, it always felt unnatural to me and I often challenged my dad because I thought he was bullying my mom. While I could relate to the family dynamic in sixties shows like “Father Knows Best,” these shows did not accurately represent how life actually was. However, having grown up with some of the shows mentioned in the clip, I admit that while the shows were not the most accurate, they were comforting and entertaining. Shows like “The Bill Cosby Show” provided me an escape from boredom, and were witty to boot. How comforting and entertaining must these shows have been in a time when people were newly feeling uncertain about their futures? There were assassinations, political scandals, nuclear bomb drills, feminist movements, civil rights clashes, and a new subculture of drugs and sex. While our generation may be experiencing international terrorism, heightened nuclear and biochemical dangers, economic instability, and natural disasters, there is a different approach to the uncertainty. The term “YOLO” is one of the mainstream slogans that suggests living life to the fullest since it only passes by once. But the term is applied more for personal experiences that are wild and irrational than for communal experiences with family and friends that reflect the value of life.

Doing Family – Hudak and Giammatei

http://www.psychologytoday.com/files/attachments/45260/hudak-and-giammattei-doing-family-12-09.pdf

Hudak and Giammatei’s “Doing Family” effectively points out how the terms “marriage” and “family” are still linked to the traditional view of heterosexuality despite significant societal changes. This related to me as well, because even while I am from this generation of change and greater openness to self-expression, I do not feel the need to clarify that a relationship is heterosexual as much as I do when referring to non-heterosexual individuals or relationships. However, Hudak and Giammatei argue that the tendency to take heterosexuality for granted places heterosexuality in a position of dominance and superiority to homosexuality. Also, they assert that because of this bias, homosexual relationships and families have to be labeled accordingly because otherwise they are invisible in the eyes of the dominant heterosexual community.

While I admit that I take heterosexuality to be more common than other types of relationships, which may explain why I do not necessarily clarify that a relationship is heterosexual, I do not remove the possibility of non-heterosexual relationships when talking about couples or families, and am aware that many people today enjoy non-heterosexual relationships. In that sense, there is a level of awareness and non-invisibility that comes with living in an age where sexuality is accepted as a form of self-expression and freedom. Heterosexuals may be the demographically larger group, but I do not think that heterosexuals automatically convert that into feelings of superiority and self-importance. However, I see the importance of increasing awareness about such dangers and acknowledge that certain groups like the Westboro Baptists demonstrate excessive aggression towards non-heterosexuals. Society has come a long way in terms of equality and tolerance, but it still has room for improvement.

Multiple Choices – family documentary

I have eight siblings, all of which are adopted from all over the world. I am my parents’ only biological child, and I love them all. -boy

There’s no such thing as a functional family. I think it’s a myth. -woman

These two statements reveal that ‘family’ and ‘functionalism’ are not concrete, but relative terms. While the traditional view of a functional family may have been a small nuclear family with a highly obedient wife and children, the definitions of what family is and the values attributed to it have greatly changed over the years. Perhaps these values and definitions have not so much changed as has society just become increasingly aware. This is reflected in the evolution of family sitcoms, from the Brady Bunch in the 70s, to Friends in the 90s, to current shows like Modern Family. And while views of family may be changing to include more than the traditional representation, it has not become as dysfunctional as conservative people may believe. These changing ideals have simply opened the way for new interactions and relationships, and have shown how interpersonal bonds can transcend biological ones.

Coming from a traditional nuclear family, my take on family is the people with whom you create strong bonds of loyalty and selflessness. Whether one person or twenty people, family is made by individuals who may or may not be related to you, but with whom you spend your time and energy. I actually wish to have my own children and also to adopt when I get older, and so the boy’s statement that his family is fully functional and built on love regardless of biological ties is the picture that I envision in my future. As for functionality, I think the concept of perfection is a myth and an idea that has been used as a marketing tool. As there is no perfectly functional individual, there can be no such thing as a perfectly functional organization that is made up of those individuals. However all families are functional in the sense that each family, whatever its definition, gets its job done in creating and nurturing a person, for better or for worse. I do not think I have had the best of or the worst of childhoods, but I have had my fair share of family drama and I think my parents did the best with what they knew. I can’t wish that my parents had done anything differently because that would be to give up an experience and a part of myself that I am just not willing to do. I am lucky to have parents, but I am also lucky for the darker times that have helped us all learn how to be a family. Maybe that’s why families aren’t perfect –  because we have to learn how to be a family in the first place.

transitions


As a high school senior, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life or what experiences to look for. I only had one goal – to get away from home. Admittedly, Pennsylvania is not that far from New York, but I had originally planned to go to California. At the time, I looked forward to living independently and moving out as soon as possible, so I obsessed with applying to schools strictly outside New York. I had overestimated my abilities to live alone though, and was given a well-needed wake up call when I started school. I ate junk, hated laundry, and developed quite an unbalanced eating and sleeping schedule. But I’ll be honest, I had a lot of fun and made memories that gave me an interesting college experience. I’m still on that road of self-development and feel plenty of uncertainty towards the future, but I’m learning to let go and trust my judgment more. Regardless of what I end up doing or where I end up in the future, I’ll give my best and try to enjoy where I am, which I’ve learned is pretty hard to do. I enjoy learning new languages, traveling, singing, and gaining broad work experience. I’m in a Christian fellowship in school, and I volunteer with them at an assisted living facility by Broadhead.