The increased interaction among people in the modern world has increased due to evolution of technology as well as other factors such as globalization. The interaction has not only impacted economic growth and development of nations but also their social status. The family values that existed traditionally have changed because of the interaction of different cultures in the society. Family structures today have also changed, affecting the roles that men and women play in the society (Alesina et al., 126). There is a lot of literature concerning family values and gender roles with different scholars expressing varying opinions. One of the authors who have written about the topic is Joan Didion, who argues that family roles are affected by the childhood experiences that people have. A family plays an important role in determining the type of adults that children grow into.
In her opinion, some aspects in personality that adults show is greatly influenced by the roles that their families played. Didion cites that the roles of both parents in the family are important in shaping the behavior of their children when they grow up. Richard Rodriguez is another author who has contributed to the knowledge on family values and gender roles. He holds a different opinion from Didion by arguing that family values and gender roles are influenced by the cultural background that the individuals have. Although culture has a great influence on the way people relate, they have the knowledge to differentiate right from wrong by adopting the right family values. He supports the current American culture and argues that families following the traditional cultures such as the Hispanics do not develop. This paper discusses family values and gender roles by evaluating the arguments of the two authors. It explores the extent to which family values and gender roles have been influenced by family experiences and culture.
These roles in children are influenced by the older family members in the society. In her narrative, Didion expresses that her mode of dressing was greatly influenced by her mother and grandmother. Her mother advised her to wear hand knit cardigans but her grandmother had a more evolved mode of dressing that made her feel more confident and comfortable. As a woman, her grandmother encouraged her to wear beautiful hats that would encourage her to go to church (Didion 250). Didion’s behavior is shaped by the childhood games she played with her cousin and even as adults the two still feels the urge to play the game. A similar opinion is expressed by Rodriguez when he says that Hispanic women are known to be better in teaching gender roles to their girls. The duties that these women play include household chores and looking after the children.
The two authors agree that economic factors play a crucial role in shaping the family values and gender roles. In Didion’s view, her dressing code as a woman was greatly influenced by the economic status of her family. Her mother could only afford the hand knit cardigans and she emphasized that they were the best for a woman of her age. In Rodriguez’s narrative, it is clear that the economic and social status of the people in the modern world has the ability to influence their family values. He cites that the young generation has the potential to earn higher salaries than their parents and this influences their character in their day to day lives. The strong family ties are broken by the high economic status of the individuals as they change even the neighborhood. He cites that the Chinese are probably the only race that still maintains their family values such as respect for the aged regardless of their economic status (Rodriguez 258). Traditionally, women did not have to work but the economic situation in the world today forces them to work as their male colleagues. This has transformed gender roles in the modern era where both men and women are forced to work.
As opposed to Didion’s view that family values and gender roles are influenced by one’s experiences as they grow, Rodriguez feels that culture plays an important role in shaping the society. He acknowledges that family values in the United States have changed due to the increase in immigrants, each with their unique values (Rodriguez 257). The description of his neighborhood is a clear indication of the mixture of cultures in the modern world. All the different races have varying opinions about family values and this affects the way the children in the neighborhood grow. Rodriguez contends that the American culture in the present times encourages people to get away from the traditional values that they feel unworthy and build their own cultures that define their personalities. He gives an example of how homosexuality was perceived negatively by the society in the past but some politicians have come out strongly to support the act. Human beings have their preferences and they should be allowed to lead their lives as they please. The American culture encourages young people to move out of their parents’ house and lead their own lives, especially for men. The male are expected to break family connections and pursue their own lives (Rodriguez 258). This is a different case according to Didion’s narrative as adults are expected to be the role models to the younger generation. The interests that the narrator has as an adult can be traced back to her childhood memories. She still keeps the bracelet that she received as a present from a sailor when she was a young girl (Didion 249). She learnt the art of keeping the treasures from her mother, an indication that children learn family values and gender roles from their parents. When parents teach the young ones good family values, they copy the same as adults and the same is true for the undesirable acts.
In conclusion, the most persuasive essay is by Rodriguez because it discusses contemporary family values such as homosexuality and abortion. Over the years, people have had debates on whether one is allowed to have a choice with regard to their sexual orientation and the narrative answers to questions. The decision as to whether a woman should keep their baby to maturity or abort is also a controversial issue but it is well explained in the narrative. The choices that people have on gender roles and family values are influenced by the American culture in the modern days. The culture allows people to live their lives on their own and make their choices whether they are right or wrong. They have the right to choose their sexual orientation as well as the right time to have a baby.
Alesina, Alberto F., Paola Giuliano, and Nathan Nunn. On the origins of gender roles: Women and the plough. No. w17098. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2011.
Didion, Joan. “In Sable and Dark Glasses.” Family Values and Gender Roles. n.p, 2016. Print.
Rodriguez, Richard. Family Values. n.p, 2016. Print.