Of Early Exits and Exclamation Points

Tombstones All In A Row

Mary Virginia Terhune (“Marion Harland”) was a prolific author of domestic advice books in the late 1800s. Her warmth and humor made her one of the most popular writers of her day, but at times her thinking offers a disquieting glimpse into the early growth of the American eugenics movement. Continue reading

Who Needs a Family These Days?

fathersonbathroom

I got you babe I got you babe
I got you to hold my hand
I got you to understand
I got you to walk with me
I got you to talk with me
I got you to kiss goodnight
I got you to hold me tight
I got you, I won’t let go
I got you to love me so

I Got You Babe, Sonny Bono, 1966

Thanksgiving is approaching. Family time is around the corner. The best of times, the worst of times. Better get ready.

I don’t want to alarm anyone (well, maybe I do) but things are really changing when it comes to family. Did you know that the way we define family has changed? In leading college Marriage and Family textbooks here’s how family is now defined:

“Any relatively stable group of people who are related to one another through blood, marriage or adoption, or who simply live together, and who provide one another with economic and emotional support.”  (Schwartz, M. and B.M. Scott. 2012. Marriages and Families. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.)

Wouldn’t college roommates fit that definition?

Continue reading

Home, Sweet Home

Fern_Cottage

“How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”
― William Faulkner

My family tells me that I don’t travel well. For me the best part of any trip is coming home. I think I’ve gotten worse as I’ve aged. I used to be a happy camper. Something must have happened to me along the way.

Historically, America has valued the home and made great efforts to be sure that more of her citizens were homeowners. Owning a home has tremendous economic, political and social benefits for everyone (even those who don’t). The higher the rate of home ownership, the better it is for our society. Currently, home ownership in America is at an 18 year low. Our economic misfortunes are still defeating us, especially at home.

Home is a physical location where we hang our hat and rest our head. But it is more than that. It is a physical place that serves as ground zero for the formation of our most basic human relationships. It is the physical environment in which we construct the most intimate and essential experiences of our lives. Home is a refuge where we escape and find solace from the chaos and corruption that is outside.

Recently we had a water leak in our home. The damage caused us to have to undertake major repairs. Two things happened that reminded me how important home is and all the ways that I take it for granted. You’ve probably had similar experiences. Continue reading

Edith Bunker RIP

archie-and-edith-bunker1“Man cannot become attached to higher aims and submit to a rule if he sees nothing above him to which he belongs. To free him from all social pressure is to abandon him to himself and demoralize him.”   – Émile Durkheim

Actually Edith (Mrs. Archie Bunker) faded away with the end of All in the Family in 1979. The actor who played her, Jean Stapleton passed away May 31, 2013 – she was 90 years old!  Edith Bunker reminds me of people from my own family. She has become a cultural archetype that at the time we made fun of, but now so many of us yearn for with deep regret. She represents marriage and family in so many ways. Today we look around us and wonder how we have drifted so far. Continue reading