Just Your Typical American Family

by admin - November 14th, 2013

When you are told to imagine what a typical family household in the fifties looked like, what would you think of? It would certainly not be anything similar to what you would see in today’s society. In today’s society a typical household is one where the kids go off to school and both parents go to work. Now I’m not saying that all families have two working parents but the majority do. Back in the fifties this was not the case. It was the father that would go off to work in the morning and leaving the mother at home with the children. She would cook, clean, and manage the house work every day. Make sure that the fridge is stocked and that all of the kids had done their homework and cleaned up for the day.

This was something that women aspired to do in the fifties. After the war, women were expected to leave their jobs now that the men had some back. The men would resume their place in the work force while the women would go back home and take care of things on that front. It was believed that “His achievements defined her success; only by assisting him could she experience fulfillment” (Dunar,194). It was this sentiment that many people followed, that a woman can only be successful if her husband is successful. The wife was supposed to support her husband in any way that she could so that he could move ahead in life.

In the fifties the main goal in the life of a woman was to get herself a husband. It was a status symbol more than anything because if a women did not get married as they grew older than they were not of the norm of society. It was said that the women of that time went to college to get an M.R.S degree, which means getting a husband. What this is basically saying is that it was more important for women to get a husband then it was to get themselves an education.

Once they got themselves that husband they could focus on being a suburban housewife. There were many books that were published at that time that would focus on what it was that a good housewife was to do. They would showcase examples of what a good wife and mother was to do in their life and how to perfect their household. The difference between what was expected then and what happens now is astonishing to me.

Now I know an example from my personal life of what it was like back then and what it is like now by comparing my mother to my grandmother. My mother is a single working mom. She does everything herself and does not ask for help for anything unless she really needs it. Now my grandmother on the other hand, that was a different story. She used to live in Greece when she was younger while my grandfather lived here in the states. His parents showed him a picture of her and he decided that he basically wanted her. So she came here to the states and they got married. He worked and went off to fight in World War 2, while she was a stay at home wife and mom. She never worked a day in her life.

–Anna F.

One Response to “Just Your Typical American Family”

  1. Erin Rice says:

    I like how Anna added in a personal example to this post– I also find it astonishing how little women were expected to achieve outside of being a good housewife during the fifties. My parents each work and share the responsibilities in taking care of my brothers and I as well as the housework. I think that if my mother was not able to work, and was expected to stay at home, she probably would not be as fulfilled as she is today. I imagine that being a housewife in the fifties would not be overly stimulating to one’s mind or satisfying in one’s self-esteem. The role of a fifties housewife is often described as being extremely routine as well as somewhat subservient, because the women’s role and happiness frequently depended on her husband’s success.