Families


Moving is a pain. I had not planned on having to leave the house where I had been living with my sister and her husband for the last eight years. There were times during those eight years when I almost thought the situation could work out. Whenever I had doubts, I would talk with my brother-in-law, or my sister, and they would tell me I was being paranoid. So, I stayed. However, while I was making plans for better things, life happened.

Relatives — family in general — are often among the most difficult people to get along with. We either take them for granted or we curse them, because they do not think, or see the world in the same way we do.

I have often extolled the virtues of the extended family. The notion of siblings, parents, children and grandchildren building their home together, or at least living in the same neighborhood, much as our grandparents and great-grandparents did when they first arrived in this country, could be among the best ways to deal with an economic situation that is steadily going downhill. People made a point of looking out for each other. The children knew everyone in the neighborhood, and everyone knew them, so they tended to be safe. Such neighborhoods were common up until the middle of the Twentieth Century. That is about the time when corporate jobs reigned supreme, and people traveled across the country and back, in order to get and keep them.

Now, those jobs are going the way of the Dodo Bird. The sorts of jobs available today tend to be part time work at minimum wage, or even less. It isn’t enough to live on. They are not the sorts of jobs that would be worth leaving town to find, or earning a college degree to do them. But that is what is being required of people now. With our economy collapsing, it is time we learned to use the skills we have, in order to take care of each other.

The once powerful middle class we had back in the nineteen fifties and sixties hardly exists anymore. Today, we have a small percentage of our population, who enjoys uber-wealth, and who dedicate their lives to accumulating more wealth and the absolute power that comes with it, while the rest of us are the unter — the ones who are just managing to live respectable and honorable lives. The idea that our children will be able to do better than we did, through the opportunities of superior education and advantages we did not have when we grew up, has died. Graduates from our colleges and universities come out with a lifetime worth of debt, and a dwindling job market to choose from. We have all been sliding the slope of downward mobility.

One answer to this problem is going back to live within extended families. However, our society has been sick for so many years, that the mere thought of going back to live with parents and siblings sends chills of apprehension and fear, racing up and down our spines.

Members of the middle class in our society tend to be decidedly against helping members of their respective families attain and maintain a middle class standard of living. This phenomenon has been described in psychology textbooks for many years. Middle class people who have been successful feel they have worked hard to achieve what they have, and everyone else should be expected to do the same for themselves. We have forgotten the stories of how some of our families could only afford to send one son to college, while his parents and sisters and brothers worked to pay his expenses. When that son graduated, he was expected to return at least some of those favors that his family had extended to him.

According to these texts, only the very upper and the very lower classes, who traditionally believe they have an obligation to other adult members of their families. Now, when traditionally middle class people find themselves in the position of having to go to slightly more affluent members of their families for help, they are likely to meet with resentment and outright animosity. We have forgotten how to accept and respect each other, so that we can live and succeed in a world that is making increasingly difficult demands on us.

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About Genevieve

Genevieve is a ghostwriter, specializing in memoirs, biographies and novels for her clients, since 2002. She loves her work, Her blog is a hodge podge of whatever happens to be on her mind when she sits down to write. Her essays may be about anything from family life, to politics, to good grammar. Come read it at http://thebestword.net/wordpress/ and leave a message.
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