Improving The Modern American Family Essay, Research Paper
Concept Paper #3May 5,1999 Now that I have been elected to Congress for my ideas on improving the modern American family , I would like to further explain my plans to improve the modern day society and family. The two main issues that I feel are the key factors to the fall of family are child abuse and the lack of communication in marriage. I do believe that these two factors are directly related to each other think this is true because when there is a lack of communication in a marriage one partner may not know how the partner feels about having children or a women may think that the birth of a child will improve her marriage. If we can improve one problem then I think that the other problem will also decline. Violence in families is a major problem and any citizen of the US who thinks that abuse only occurs between couples who are mentally ill or poor is sadly mistaken. According to the information provided in Chapter 10, 1000 to 1200 children die from abuse and neglect by their caretakers, usually their parents every year. Also 9 out of 10 of these victims are under the age of five and more than 40 percent are infants under a year old. Violence in families is not something that should be ignored and is caused by many factors in modern day society. Some of the factors that contribute to violence in families are as follows: the US Congress does not allow spousal or child abuse but the right for citizens to own a gun promotes violence. The use of corporal punishment which, is the use of physical force with the intent of injury for the purposes of correction is legal in every state and over 90 percent of parents use corporal punishment on toddlers and just half continue to practice this on their adolescent children according to Chapther10 in our book of diversity in families. The use of paddle is legal in 23 states, which allows teachers to paddle their students whenever they deem nesscary. The promotion of violent sports in schools such as football, which is the most financially sport in all colleges and high, schools. Violence in the media is the next cause of the problem of violence in families. As stated in Chapter 10, by the time a child finishes elementary school they will have witnessed 8,000 murders on television and by the age of 18 the average child will see 200,000 violent acts on television. Even in the video game industry the main theme is violence and the video game industry is geared to target children. In the game, Mortal Kombat the player is made to pull out a beating heart from the competitor s chest. However, media is not the sole cause for beating your wife or child because many people who watch television do not beat their family members but it does desensitize us against violence and the actions that it causes. Gelles and Straus who are sociologists with the book have concluded that with the exception of the police and the military, the family is perhaps the most violent social group, and the home the most violent social setting, in our society. (1979:15) The definition of child abuse is violence carried out with the intention of or perceived as having the intention of physically hurting the child (Gelles and Straus 1979:136) The question is where do we draw the line? If the definition is too lax we are jeopardizing the safety of our children and if it is too strict parents might be wrongly accused of child abuse. The best way to describe child abuse is any violent act that is intentional that requires the child to need medical attention. Child abuse is a very complex problem that has many ascepts of occurrence none any better or worse than the other. Some of the issues that determine whether child abuse will enter into a family structure are economic condition, race and ethnicity and gender. Child abuse is much more likely to occur in families of low socioeconomic status because the effects of poverty cause lower self-esteem and more stress causing people to take the stress out on their children. In some studies, there seems to be no difference in the reported cases of child abuse with race and other studies show that African Americans have higher rates of child abuse than Whites. The debate is ongoing. Gender is an issue because unlike any other type of violence where men are the dominant perpetrators women are the perpetrators as much as men with child abuse. Women are much more likely to be in a stressful situation (to head households, to be in poverty, and less economically rewarding work). Women also feel more responsibility than men do because they are usually the primary caretakers. Gertrude Williams (1980:597) believes another reason for child abuse among women is the pronatalist bias in society. Pronatalism is the widespread belief that a woman s only fulfilling activity is motherhood. This causes a mother to believe that if she is not succeeding as a mother she is a failure thus causing her to take out her disappointment and anger on her children who would appear to be the cause of the problem. Now that we have discussed some of the reasons for child abuse I would like to discuss some of adaptations I would make as a US Congress official. I would like to make guns available only to households who do not have children and if they do not have children they would still need to be over the age of 25 in order to own a gun. All gun owners would need to have a permit and a license and it would be illegal to show children how to shoot the gun. I realize that this may be a difficult law to uphold but perhaps if there is a law citizens will be less likely to provide instruction of gun use to children. I would also like to expand on the viewer discretion television tags placed on television programs. All programs containing violent acts can only be viewed at night and television programs containing violence should try to incorporate the consequences of violent acts along with the act. All families would have to attend mandatory parenting upon the birth of a child. If the classes were not attended the parents would risk losing their children. I realize this may seem harsh however, considering that there is no license for parenting I strongly believe that most parents need some sort of instruction. The classes would teach subjects such as stress management, discipline, communication with children and anger management. There would be separate classes for men and women because men and women have different emotions about parenting. This program will most likely be very costly but I truly believe that it would help in many of the problems in American family and it is something that is needed much more than more military firearms. The family is the only thing that will keep our society, as we know it running smoothly and in order do that we need show our children that we love them. Children are the future and they need
to loved and nurtured and any parent that does not know how to do that will be able to learn with my program. Parents and children can learn to respect each other and communication as friends and not enemies and this will dismiss a lot of anger on both parts. The next problem of lack of communication in marriage is in my view a much simpler problem to tackle. The reason that people who are married do not communicate is because they are either afraid of confrontation or they truly do not know what they want for themselves. According to Chapter 8, about 90 percent of the population will eventually marry. Unfortunately, about half of those marriages end in divorce and this is because of lack of communication. When people get married they except to spend the rest of their lives with that person and that everything will always remain as it is when you first get married however that is not true. Marriage causes people to truly get to examine each other s minds and know everything about the other person and this is when some problems may arise. I believe that if you find out all you can about your spouse before you get married than you will have a more successful marriage. People fall in love and everything is wonderful and so they believe that the relationship will always be that way so they get married. If you truly know someone and you know their deepest darkest secrets and you still love them and you feel as though you can give all of yourself to someone else than you are ready for marriage. Marriage is the most intimate relationship that two people can enter into and I think that people do not always understand this factor. Martial Quality is the measure of martial success and refers to the way in which the husband and wife describe and evaluate the character of their relationship according to Chapter 8. Some of the factors that evaluate martial quality are a shared social characteristic, which shows that homogamous marriages have a higher martial quality than other couples. Homogamous marriages are couples who share similar characteristics seem to adjust more easily to each other and agree more on values, politics and religion. Economic and personal resources influence marriage. Couples who have higher income and occupational status are more likely to evaluate the marriage as good. The division of labor at home is another factor in martial quality. The division of the household labor can create a lot of tension in a marriage if one person is doing a lot more work than the other. Although women try to say that we are just like men the truth is different. Women are different than men and they communicate differently. Women tend to communication with more emotional backing and men speak more with anger. Men tend to seek to dominate the conversation and women seek to understand what they are saying to them. Men and women usually live very different lives and often they can get caught up in their work or other factors of their lives and forgets to talk to their spouse. Often with working families with children leisure time is spent watching television or reading there is very little interaction and this causes couples to believe that they have fallen out of love. However, most couples just need to rediscover the love is lost. Divorce is too easy assessable for most families. Couples need to work on marriages and not just assume that they are not right for each other. I believe that couples that are looking for divorce should be made to attend marriage counseling first before they are granted the divorce. I believe that many couples are still in love but they just choose not to work on the marriage because of al few problems and if the problems were to be discussed they may save the marriage. The marriage counseling would have to be attended for 6 months and if after the six month the couple still want the divorce it would be granted. I believe that this would greatly reduce the number of divorces because if a couple could talk about their problems openly and a trained professional could give them advice on how to deal with the issues they might discover that the problems can be worked out. These are my issues that I am going to address as your elected US Congresswoman and I hope that you have enjoyed my insights and that you support my ideas. I am going to try to do my best to reconstruct the American family and provide you with the best advice to use in you own family. Thank you for voting for me and I would appreciate any concerns or questions you may have just send them to 150 Elm Street Washington DC.