’s “The American Way Of Families”: Is The Dream Really As Sweet As Apple Pie? Essay, Research Paper

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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