The Millennial Mistake of Forgetting Traditional Family Values
Many believe that the 1950s was by far the best era to live in the United States, but was it? Was life really that different? Norman Rockwell depicts the 1950s with loving couples and beautiful children, while the 2010s are portrayed as having broken homes and rebellious teenagers. Could this simply be a matter of opinion? The family, once held sacred, was the keystone to this nation, but is that still the case? Though the modern-day can be revered for “empowering” women and shared childrearing, it is also culpable of corrupting our morals and values, negatively influencing many homes, marriages, and children.
The 1950s represent a time when marriages lasted and families thrived. A loving and wholesome family was the epitome of the American dream. Matrimony signified a life long unification and was the foundation of the home and family. Divorce was considered taboo and therefore extremely uncommon. In “Learning from the Fifties”, Alan Ehrenhalt notes, “…in the 1950s, the number of divorces in America was about 10 per 1,000 marriages…It was because divorce was simply not on the menu of options for most people, no matter how difficult or stressful life might become. The couples of the 1950s got married on the assumption that it was their job to make things work the best way they could”. In other words, the 1950s meant couples didn’t have a plan B; they worked through their problems and stayed together. Marriage truly meant “till death do us part”. A healthy enduring marriage was the basis for establishing a healthy home the family could thrive in.
The “family” of the 2010s, however, paints a very different picture of a lasting marriage. A marriage lasting ten years is now considered longstanding. Divorce is no longer frowned upon and is becoming all too common. In the article “Broken Hearts: A Rundown of the Divorce Capital of Every State”, John Harrington and Cheyenne Buckingham at USA Today report, “About 40% to 50% of married couples in the United States divorce, according to the American Psychological Association. The divorce rate among those who remarry is even higher”. In summary, divorce is on the rise and has steadily become the norm. Couples no longer strive to conserve their marriage. If either is unhappy, a simple divorce will easily suffice. With the “grass is greener” mentality, subsequent marriages are doomed to fail. Divorce has lasting effects on both husband and wife and can be detrimental if there are children involved. Children raised in a divorced home are more likely to suffer from social and psychological problems, further causing a familial downward spiral. The modern-day unattached relationship concepts have negatively impacted marriages causing permanent damage to homes and families across the globe.
Women in the 1950s were expected to embrace the many “joys” of motherhood. Though it is quite possible that some females weren’t eager to do so, the family was integral to the community, making it a “necessity”. Society and the church encouraged women to marry young and start a family with their husbands. In “Motherhood: Who Needs It?”, Betty Rollin emphasizes, “Originally, it was the word of God that got the ball rolling with Be fruitful and multiply, a practical suggestion, since the only people around then were Adam and Eve” (183). Basically, the Bible teaches that children are a blessing from God and further encourages women to have offspring and lovingly care for them. Since religion was a huge motivating factor during this era, some women may have felt obliged to conceive, regardless of their stance on family.
The views on family and children have since changed. Though the population is steadily increasing, the modern woman of the 2010s is much more cautious about starting a family. While some women might wait for the right time to have children, others have completely dismissed the notion altogether. Rollin retorts, “For as the truth about the Myth trickled in-as women’s rights increased, as women gradually got the message that it was certainly possible for them to do most things that men did, that they live longer, that their brains were not tinier–then, finally, when the really big news rolled in, that they could choose whether or not to be mothers-what happened?” (184). In brief, women are just as intelligent and capable as men, and therefore, should make their own decision on whether or not to procreate. The modern-day family no longer necessarily includes children. Though motherhood was highly regarded in the 1950s, it is unreasonable to insist that every woman should multiply.
In the 1950s, men and women had specific roles they were encouraged to fulfill. Most husbands worked diligently to provide for their families, while wives were primarily domestic engineers. In “The Case Against Breast-Feeding”, Hanna Rosin notes, “In Betty Friedan’s day, feminists felt shackled to domesticity by the unreasonably high bar for housework, the endless dusting and shopping and pushing the Hoover around…” (195). Mainly, a woman’s day was consumed by cleaning and caring for her family, leaving little time for anything else. Since the family was foundational to the community, mothers were essential for adequately raising the next generation and they were highly respected for that role. Though most women were domestic, certain professions were considered acceptable for women who did work outside the home. According to Jane McMaster Conroy in the article “Business and Jobs in the 1950s”, “If women did work, they were secretaries, teachers, nurses, stewardesses and stenographers”. In short, women were highly influenced to pursue nurturing occupations, if any. Women were highly respected for their role as nurturers and their commitment to raising the next generation.
Much has changed in the home and workforce since the 1950s. Sadly, due to financial obligations, etc. many mothers have reluctantly joined the working class. This can sometimes leave “latchkey” children to fend for themselves. Since children may spend a majority of their day without proper guidance and supervision, it can allow for more time to experiment with bad behavior. Such behaviors may include drugs, alcohol, and promiscuity. These actions further attribute to the decline of the family. This unfavorable predicament has prompted many families to embrace childrearing alternatives. Shared parenting is becoming popular in the modern-day home. A growing number of families have even embraced the concept of stay-at-home dads when it is more feasible for the family. Shared parenting can facilitate childrearing, allowing women the ability to fulfill career goals without risking the home and children.
The 1950s was the age of modesty and discretion. Women taught their daughters how to act and dress like a lady. Modesty gave young women a sense of self-worth and dignity, which is a precursor to a happy family. Lovely actresses like Lucille Ball and Elizabeth Taylor were the essence of style. Any racy and indecent attire was strictly reserved for the marital bedroom. In “Constructing Garments, Constructing Identities: Home Sewers and Homemade Clothing in 1950s/ 60s Alberta”, Marcia McLean notes, “It has been well documented that women were constantly reminded of the importance of their appearance throughout the post-war period. In the 1950s, this was often tied to the idea of dressing within the bounds of good taste, which involved appearing modestly and appropriately attired for every occasion”. To put it another way, women were encouraged to dress suitably in clothes that covered their assets. Women did not parade around showing their body parts. Their attire was very classy, yet spicy while leaving much to the imagination. Women in the 1950s wore modest clothing that radiated their self-confidence.
In strict contrast, the modern-day average teenage girl’s wardrobe consists of midriffs, Daisy Dukes, and low-rise butt lifting jeans. Retailers have been accused of fashioning clothing that oversexualizes young girls. In “Parents, Don’t Dress Your Girls Like Tramps”, LZ Granderson argues, “Abercrombie & Fitch came under fire this spring for introducing the Ashley, a push-up bra for girls…as young as 7…about 10 years ago they sold thongs for 10-year-olds—but they’re hardly alone in pitching inappropriate clothing to young girls”. Simply put, retailers are designing sexier apparel for adolescent girls. One has to ask, why would any retailer design such clothing? The answer is simple because there are many parents going out of their way to purchase them. Retailers are simply “feeding the need”. The modern-day teenager girl is being exploited in the 2010s by allowing herself to be swayed into dressing provocatively.
The modern-day gave birth to ever influencing social media. With the age of social media came the selfie. Then sadly, as a result, progressed into the nude selfie. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj have shamelessly posted nude selfies on social media for all, including, young girls to see. This speaks volumes of our “evolved” culture. Unfortunately, this has taught young girls that in order to acquire and retain the attention of others one must simply possess “self-confidence” and strut with their God-given assets. Not only does this encourage promiscuity, but if a minor emulates these behaviors and uploads a nude picture of themselves it can be considered a criminal offense. Families have been most damaged by the modern-day burden to dress immodestly leaving little imagination and self-worth.
Although far from perfect, the 1950s enabled families to stay together. With the children’s best interest at heart, the 1950s promoted nurturing and domesticity. Despite the progression since the Women’s Rights Movement, the modern-day continues to exploit females by manipulating many into dressing sexy adversely affecting their self-esteem. One of the notable concepts introduced during the modern-day is shared childrearing, which empowers women by allowing them the ability to pursue outside careers without sacrificing their home and children. In spite of the few favorable contributions brought by the modern-day, clearly, the 2010s are responsible for warping our ethics forever impacting our homes, marriages, children, and values.
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