Throughout my entire life, I have been a part of the “traditional American family” that was a unique trend in the 1950s (Coontz, 1992). With a breadwinning father, a stay-at-home mother, three children, and a dog, my family appears to be well put-together. In fact, as my mom notes,
“For an outsider, our family looks like the perfect All-American family.”
While this statement may sound a bit boastful, my mother modestly adds,
“You have your issues, and you just work through them.”
Despite my family’s few and minor struggles, however, my mom is correct in saying that, from an outside perspective, my family appears to represent the traditional American family. Yet, even though my parents had separate familial roles as the family provider and the stay-at-home parent, neither of my parents viewed their domestic roles as static.
For example, even though my mom does the majority of the cooking, my dad always helps out with the dishes. He also enjoys making breakfast for the family after church on Sunday mornings. Clearly, my mother and father do not feel locked into their gendered roles within the household. In fact, as my dad notes,
“I don’t think we said, ‘No, that’s Mom’s responsibility,’ or ‘That’s Dad’s responsibility.’ It was our joint responsibility to try to raise you guys and give you the best example of how to live life as we could.”
Accordingly, my parents genuinely wanted to play an equal role in our lives. Furthermore, they wanted to be actively involved in our lives, following the parenting philosophy of “concerted cultivation” (Lareau, 2003). In this manner, even though my parents’ explicit roles within the household reflect the “traditional American family” model, their shared desire to be actively involved in their children’s lives illustrates a family model that strays from the 1950s trend.