Skip Nav

United States: Customs, Habits, and Etiquette

Recent Posts

❶You are just sitting patiently waiting for either the next course or for the bill, so you might as well be comfortable.

Feelings Gift Set

Traditional and Modern American Family Values
United States
Birthday Bash

About 20 percent of same sex couples are raising kids. Much more traditional has been the custom of having a family labor force — either with the wife as co-provider or the children, and often both. It was not until the s that a bare majority of kids grew up in a family where the mother was not working on the farm or in a small business, and where the children were in school instead of in the workforce.

That family form receded in the Depression and World War II and came roaring back in the s, largely due to a combination of discrimination against female workers and unprecedented rises in real wages for young men, as home prices fell in the postwar boom, wages rose, and government invested in new jobs, job training, and educational opportunities. Most researchers agree that it will never come back as the majority family form.

Another myth is that parents used to spend more time with their children in the s and s. In , kids spent more time with siblings and friends or just playing, watching tv in their rooms, and less in direct contact with mom than today, even though moms were often around more.

Working moms today spend somewhat less time interacting with their kids than SAHMs, but they spend more time with their kids than SAHMs did in , the high point of male breadwinner families. Yet another myth is that there is this deep divide between what SAHMs and employed moms want. While a majority of employed moms would like to cut back their work hours, 40 percent of SAHMs wish they had a job.

Most women would like more balance in their work and family options, and so would most dads. In fact, unlike 35 years ago, men now report higher levels of work-family conflict than do women.

How a family functions is more important than how it looks from the outside. A new study finds that on average, kids who have SAHMs during the first year of life have some small advantages over those who have working moms, but the reverse is true for those whose moms work during years 2 and 3 — and ultimately, most of the differences average out over the next 5 or 6 years.

For example, another recent study shows that the highest rates of depression are found in SAHMs who wish they had a job and in employed moms who want to stay home but have to work, and have only been able to find work in a low quality job.

Interestingly, moms who want to stay home but have a high quality job have just about as low rates of depression as moms who are getting their first choice. Which suggests that SAHMs should be sure to keep their social networks and skills up so if they do want or need to go to work, they can get a job that gives them more control over their work and more flexibility.

There is tremendous variability in outcomes, and parents have to find what arrangements suit both their individual needs and the dynamics of their family life. Again, variations in functioning and background count for more than the specific form. The most stable families are those with college-educated parents, whoever works. But women with higher education are LESS likely, not more likely, to opt out of the labor force. In heterosexual couples, the important predictor of marital stability is how fair the woman perceives the division of housework and childcare to be.

And a word to the wise for men: Another factor is the age at first marriage. For every year a woman postpones marriage, right up to her early 30s, her chance of divorce goes down.

Why is the image of the traditional family working dad, SAHM, and kids under 18 so entrenched in the American consciousness? The breadwinner family of the s was in fact a very new — and short-lived — invention.

When important health care-related decisions must be made, it is usually the parents who decide, though children are raised to think for themselves and are encouraged to act as age-appropriate decision makers as well.

Upon reaching adulthood, when parental consent is no longer an issue, young American adults may choose to exercise their right to privacy in health care matters.

This is markedly different from collectivist cultures that adhere to an extended family model. In cultures such as American Indian, Asian, Hispanic, African, and Middle Eastern, individuals rely heavily on an extended network of reciprocal relationships with parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and many others.

Many of these people are involved in important health care decisions, including some who are unrelated to the patient through blood or marriage. For example, in some Hispanic families the godparents play a critical role. It is very common for families in collectivist cultures to establish multi-generational households. This is less true when a family becomes acculturated in the United States or other western countries where privacy is more highly valued and in cases where socio-economic gains create opportunities for greater independence.

In most multi-generational households, there are at least three generations living together; the grandparents are expected to live under the same roof as their adult children and grandchildren. This is the reverse of how European American family households usually function. In traditional Asian families, it is the oldest male in the family who brings his bride to live with his parents. The daughter-in-law is often expected to be submissive to her mother-in-law who rules the roost.

In Hispanic families, grandparents from either side may live under that same roof as their children and grandchildren. Mothers often gain a great deal of support from the grandmothers in domestic matters, but this varies depending on the dynamics unique to each family. Who are the authority figures? In Asian and Hispanic traditional families, the father is the main authority figure. He will most often make decisions about matters outside the home, speaking for the family in public settings and signing consent forms.

It is usually a female figure who takes charge of domestic life. In dealing with culturally diverse families it is useful for health care professionals to understand the basic concepts of role flexibility and kinship and how these affect family dynamics. In unilineal cultures, family membership is traced either through a male or female ancestor. Thus it makes sense that a Navaho maternal uncle might bring his nephew into the hospital expecting to be empowered to sign an informed consent.

Similarly, in both American Indian and African American families, role flexibility can be an important issue. It is not uncommon for Native American grandparents to raise grandchildren while the parents leave the reservation to find work. In African American families, the mother sometimes plays the role of the father and thus functions as the head of the family.

In addition, older children sometimes function as parents or caretakers for younger children. The concept of role flexibility among African American families can be extended to include the parental role assumed by grandfather, grandmother, aunts, and cousins. Boyd-Franklin It is a good idea to determine if older children will be involved in patient care and to include them when possible in patient care training.

This is important to consider for all multi-generation households.

A Big Thanks

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

American culture is a diverse mix of customs and traditions from nearly every region of the world. Here is a brief overview of American holidays, food, clothing and more.

Privacy FAQs

Millions of American families have etiquette books in their library. If you are traveling to the United States on business or for a lengthy stay, you might want to consider consulting Emily Post's Etiquette (first published in and now in its 18th edition) or Amy Vanderbilt's Etiquette (first published in ).

About Our Ads

American birthday parties are steeped in homegrown tradition. From preschoolers to seniors, the heart of the family birthday follows a recognizable pattern year after year. A party gets decorations like balloons, streamers, flowers, special plates and napkins, and party hats. The practice of shared Family Traditions, as an integral part of Family life today, will ensure the preservation and progress of our American Culture. The American Family is the building block of our Nation because it is where we nurture the individuals who must act within our society.

Cookie Info

What are the myths about the “Traditional American Family’? One myth is that male breadwinner families were “the” traditional family. Much more traditional has been the custom of having a family labor force — either with the wife as co-provider or the children, and often both. Traditional and Modern American Family Values Modern society breeds a contemporary viewpoint about the attributes of a family, but this was not always so. As recently as the s, commonly-used American family values took a far different approach to matters of gender, equality and the family .