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Essay/Term paper: Fuch's "the american way of families": is the dream really as sweet as apple pie?

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Society Term Papers

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Fuch's "The American Way of Families": Is the Dream Really as Sweet as Apple Pie?

There were a few aspects of Lawrence H. Fuchs's essay The American Way
of Families that I found extraordinarily interesting. He discusses influences
of the modern American family that I found quite bizarre. Fuch also labels the
key component to the American family as being none other than the gratification
and pursuit of one's own self being. The most bizarre thing that overcame after
reading this piece was that I found myself to be in total agreement with Fuch.
That is what scared me. I realized that something that is supposed to be so
stable in one's own life is really as "cut and dry" as we would like to believe.
In essence, the main premise of human existence is satisfying yourself; at every
level down to your basic foundation. We fight to make our own lives better at
times even at the cost of others. This holds true in almost every arena of
society that I tried to imagine after reading Fuch's essay. The only area of
life that this struggle to satisfy yourself above and beyond all does not
pertain in my opinion is religion: it is impossible to worship a being and try
to overcome that being at the same time. Whether it involves fighting to be on
top in the workplace or playing dirty to win a sporting event; almost all
Americans have the fire burning within them that compels them to reach their
goal or self satisfaction. In reading The American Way of Families, it occured
to me that the struggle for pleasing one's own self existed even in the family.
I don't think that after reading this piece that anyone can deny the
existence of this urge in themselves. The urge exists in every form. No matter
how picture perfect the family may be perceived, each member of that household
wants to please themselves. In this quest to satisfy the appetite of happiness
we often overlook the feelings of others. For instance, suppose that in a
family that consisted of two college graduates in the role of parent, were faced
with a child (that they brought up with all of their values and good intentions)
that suddenly decides that he or she wants to move to Hollywood to become a rock
star. It is almost by instinct that these parents will not approve of their
child's decision. They do not want to lie about what their child is doing when
their friends(who coincidentally all have children in college) ask, "Hey, what's
Johnny and Sally up to theses days?" Quite to the contrary, most parents want
to be able to tell their friends straight in the eye that their kid is going to
school to learn to be a doctor just like them. When Fuch mentioned in his piece,
"In America a new kind of family system emerged, based on the search of
individual members for personal independence.", I realized that he was talking
about my family and every other family in America. It soon dawned upon me at
this point that in America each member of a household has his or her own agenda
and we set out to fulfill it any expense; even by going astray from our very own
Another aspect of The American Way of Families struck me as very odd.
Not once in all of Lawrence Fuch's essay is the word "love" implied or written.
I believe that this emotion does not exist the same way today that it was in
generations past. Now in the nineties, love has its terms, limits and even
legal boundaries. No longer in America is the love between a mother and child
sacred. This was evident in the past year when a judge in Florida granted a
child there a divorce from his parents. The word love was not mentioned in this
essay because it is not able to be mixed with independence. Love in my opinion
is a codependence between two people. At this point I began to wonder if love
even existed anymore in the American Family. Here I was reading an essay on the
modern American family written by an esteemed expert on the subject and he
happened to forget to include the meaning of love in a family. Its importance
must have fell wayside to the philosophies of great poets such as Ralph Waldo
Emerson And Henry David Thoreau and their respective contributions to the
mannerisms of the modern American family. Personally, I am only familiar with
the little portions of these poet's works that I was fed in high school. I
questioned my parents of these men's influence on their parenting and they were
aware of none. Then, I asked myself, "How does my family play into the
"American Way of Families"?" It is true in my own family that each of us is
ambitious toward our own self - satisfaction. At times we will hurt or offend
each other in order to pleases ourselves. This usually occurs when my brother
and I used to fight over certain responsibilities; feeding the dog for instance.
Just as Fuch noted about the importance of self-satisfaction in the American
culture, my brother and I would follow that in this case. He would be satisfied
if he didn't have to do the chore, likewise I would have been equally as
satisfied if he had to do it. Our satisfaction would come from the sheer labor
and grief of the other feeding the pet knowing that we both shared distaste in
this job. One day it all changed. I offered to feed the dog. My brother was
having a bad day and I, OUT OF LOVE, fed the dog for him without a battle. I
ignored my own satisfaction to enhance his own. In the longrun though, I found
gratification because we began to take turns without fighting thus we came to
terms. that is why I don't agree with Thoreau or Emerson on the importance of
independence. From the experiences that I have had with my family I believe
that life is much more fulfilling at home by living the philosophy, "Give a
little, take a little." This Fuch's essay almost made me believe that no love
existed in the American family; that life centers around one's self. if this
were true the word "family" would mean nothing to the average American. To me
it means a home that I can always turn to and a place were people care about my
troubles. Of course independence and personal agenda are vital to each and
every one of us but in order to say that "we love" or "are loved" that
independence must be compromised. Two key components of a family were missing
from Lawrence H. Fuch's, The American Way of Family. They were sacrifice and
love. With the absence of these two very important words comes the absence in
my agreement with his views.


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