Choose five of the seven prompts to write about one to two paragraphs each
1. Using support from our assigned course material, give two specific examples to show how gendered expectations influence behavior/interactions within families. For each example, discuss the way(s) by which these gendered expectations are informed by “traditional” vs. more “modern” notions of gender.
2. Explain what is meant by the phrase “the rhetoric of choice, the reality of constraint” when thinking about whether or not a mother stays at home or engages in paid work? Support your answer with information from class discussion and readings. How does this relate to the “ideological work of motherhood”? (Be sure to demonstrate that you understanding the term the “ideological work of motherhood”.)
3. African American families face unique challenges including disproportionately high rates of marital disruption, single parent families, and families living below the poverty line. Using support from the assigned readings and/or class discussion, argue whether you think that these challenges are caused more by structural or cultural factors. Fully explain your answer. Give a specific example to demonstrate that you understand either the cultural or structural factors that impact African American families.
4. There is a large body of research that indicates that children of divorce are more likely to suffer from poorer psychological adjustment, lower academic achievement, more behavioral problems, lower self-esteem,worse relations with their parents, etc., than children in families with both biological parents present. Current scholars, however, claim that not only might divorce not be the cause of those particular effects of divorce on children, but, in some cases, divorce might be better for the children involved. Give two specific explanations highlighting the complexity of understanding the effects of divorce on children.
5. According to Kathryn Edin’s research in “Few Good Men: Why Poor Mothers Stay Single,” list and briefly explain two factors that influence a low-income mother’s choice not to marry.
6. Same-sex couples have faced legal and social challenges to their ability to claim the term “family”. Explain how these legal and social challenges have had an effect on the interactions within (and choices of) same sex families.
7. Throughout the second half of the semester we have encountered a number of examples to demonstrate that there is sometimes a discrepancy between our perceptions of families (how families are portrayed in the media, by politicians, etc.) and the realities of families. Using specific examples from our course material, give two examples in which public perceptions of families do not match up with the realities. Be sure to explain each example fully (and include the author’s name and page numbers when using specific information from one of our class readings).
Politicians, journalists, and others point to increasing economic struggles, dual-earner couples, high divorce rates, stepfamilies, single-parent families, teenage parenthood, and other non-traditional family forms to make the argument:
the American family is a failing institution .
Using support from material we have covered over the course of the semester, argue whether or not you agree with that statement. What, specifically, needs to be taken into account when considering whether families are “failing” and why/how? Discuss the role of the social structure in assessing today’s families. Write about which of Giele’s three approaches (conservative vs. liberal vs. feminist) you think is most applicable to understanding the ways by which families and their relationships to other social institutions are changing? (Be sure to show an understanding of these three perspectives in your answer.)