Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gender Differences and Gender Roles

First off, it comes as no shock to any one that there are differences between men and women, beyond the physical ones. Women are seen as better with multi tasking, being more emotional and more verbal while men are seen as being tough, great problem solvers and more straightforward. Yes, differences do exist, but they are not the same for every man or every woman. The things I just listed are stereotypes that have been constructed by the society in which we live. I could go on and on explaining the impact of these socially constructed gender roles, but I won't. I don't want to get into it because in all reality, when discussing the family, I think it is more important to look at gender similarities. Even though men and women are different, they are similar in many ways and the tings they differ in, complement each other very well. Because men and women are able to compliment each others strengths and weaknesses, it is completely possible for men and women to get along compatibly and cohesively.
Along those same lines comes the idea of gender roles, or roles that a particular gender fulfills based on what is functional for society, the family, or an individual. In class we shared how tasks were divided in our families based upon gender. What I discovered was that roles in my family were fairly androgynous - or either gender. Because this is what I grew up with, and I have no other personal perspective to base my opinion, I feel like this works well. In my family, roles are fulfilled out of need (Both parents worked when I was younger out of necessity) or simply out of personality choices (my dad helps with the cooking because he likes to cook). I feel that in the long run, if roles are being filled in a functional (or helpful) way, then it really doesn't matter who does the laundry and who mows the lawn.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Class status - its all relative

Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. They are all around us. We know who grew up wealthy and we also know where we measure up. As I've studied and thought about social class, I've realized that we often like to think of ourselves as a little bit better off than we are - which makes sense, however, I decided to try my best to objectively look at the family I grew up in to truly look at which class we belong. When I was younger, we were probably upper/lower class. Both my parents were in graduate school and working at least one job each. My parents struggled quite a bit financially, but in all honesty, I had no idea. We always had a place to live, food to eat and toys to play with. When I was in the six grade, my dad got a job with a decent salary, so we had to move to a very tiny town. While our income did increase substantially, our socioeconomic status stayed about the same, because we increased our family size from four to nine.

Having explained all of that, I think it is extremely important to note that I have never felt like I was in the lower class. My parents did a wonderful job of really stretching their money and doing everything they could to make sure all of our needs were met. Therefore, I believe that socioeconomic status and social class are all about attitude. If you have a positive attitude about your own place in society, your life will be much less stressful and a lot happier. Similarly, it is so important not to look down on others because of their status - or to become judgmental or envious of those in higher classes. We all have trials and difficulties no matter how much money we have or what size house we live in. The important thing is that we all live our lives in a productive fashion and don't blame our problems on our backgrounds or our social status.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Family Relationships and Dynamics

My family, starting from the back left: Ashley (me), Katarina, Rebekah (in the blue), Mom, Dad, Robert (in the yellow), Alice (orange shirt), Marchita, and James (green)
Every family is different, and mine is no exception. I have six wonderful siblings and two loving parents. Pretty typical for an LDS family right? Let's look a little more closely. I am the oldest and while my dad is my biological dad, my mom adopted me. My younger sister, Katarina, who is biologically my mom's daughter, was adopted by my dad. After the four of us became a family and were sealed in the temple, my parents trued to have more children, but that just wasn't the Lord's plan for us at that time. About eight years later (I was 13ish) my parents decided to do foster care and four of my siblings were brought into our family forever. We first adopted Rebekah. Then James. And then Robert and Alice (Rebekah's biological half siblings). As a family, we have been to the temple four times to be sealed together as a forever family. After Robert and Alice were adopted, my parents felt that our family was complete. And then, low and behold - my mom was finally pregnant! That brought us the youngest Marchita (Marci).

Partially because we all came to be into our family in different ways and partially because we are all different people, we all have different and special relationships with each other. For example, I get along with my mom, my brother James and my sisters Alice and Marci really well. While my brother Robert gets along with Katarina, my dad and Rebekah the best. While it is confusing, these relationships really are quite functional for our family. While I get along with specific people better than others, I still love the others and like to be with all of them. Families are tricky, but by by understanding that each has its own distinct dynamic and rhythm, you can better understand the nature of family (especially big ones).