For class this week, we read two chapters from Stephanie Coontz book The Way We Never Were. Chapter One, “The Way We Wish We Were: Defining the Family Crisis,” (p. 8-22), sets out to examine why Americans are so confused about the historical development of the “ideal traditional family.” History gets confused with television shows, and we often don’t know the difference between Colonial or Victorian families, or the realities of the 1950s family diversity as compared against Leave it to Beaver. Stephanie Coontz looks at the historical record and shows us that at no time in history did the family live up to a perfect model. She also teaches us to question the statistics and look at a variety of underlying reasons for historic and contemporary social issues. Please watch this video lecture by Stephanie Coontz on the topic of this book.

For further videos of Stephanie Coontz in the news, discussing family issues, check out her YouTube channel.

On Thursday, we continued on to an edited volume by Stephanie Coontz called American Families: A Multicultural Reader. We read the chapter 1: “Fictive Kin, Paper Sons, and Compadrazgo: Women of Color and the Struggle for Family Survival,” by Bonnie Thornton Dill, as well as chapter 2: “Excerpts from Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875-1928,” by David Wallace Adams.

For this week’s blog posting, please compare and contrast the message in The Way We Never Were against the experiences mentioned in the reader. How have the stories of families of color been obscured by an emphasis on white and middle class families almost exclusively?

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