Reading - 2 How HistorydndSociology anHelp C Today's...

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.2. How History dnd Sociology Can Help Today's Families Stephanie Coontz In this 1997 article (the introductory chapter to her book The Way We Really Are), Stephanie Coontz demonstrates the sociological imagination as she discusses the nature of relations between men and women and between par- ents and kids. Again, these issues seem personal; but Coontz demonstrates how taking the larger-sociological and historical-view is very important if we want to find practical answers to such crucial questions as "What's wrong with male-female relationships in modern society?" and "What's happening to today's yout};.?" When lecture audiences first urged me to talk about how family history and sociology were relevant to contemporary life, I wasn't sure I wanted to abandon the safetv of mv historical observation post. But my experiences in re- cent years have convinced me that people are eager to learn whether historians and social scientists can help them improve their grasp of family issues. And I've come to believe that it's our responsibility to try. I don t want to make false promises about what history and sociology offer. I can't give you five tips to make your relationship last. I don t have a list of ten things you can say to get your kids to do what youwant and make them think it's what they wartt. Nor can I give kids many useful pointers on how to raise their parents. But a historical perspective can help us place our personal relationships into a larger "How History and Sociology Can Help Today's Families" from The Way We Really Are by Stephanie Coontz. Copy- right @ 1997 by Basic Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Basic Books, a division of Perseus Books, LLC. social context, so we can distinguish individ- ual idiosyncrasies or problems from broader dilemmas posed by the times in which we live. Understanding the historical back- ground and the current socioeconomic setting of family changes helps turn down the heat on discussion of many family issues. It can al- leviate some of the anxieties of modern par- ents and temper the recriminations that go back and forth between men and women. Seeing the larger picture won t make family dilemmas go away, but it can reduce the inse- curity, personal bitterness, or sense of be- trayal that all of us, at one time or anothe4 bring to these issues. Sometimes it helps to know that the tension originates in the situa- tior; not the psyche. P utti ng Tee n - Pa re nt Co nfl i cts in Perspective Consider the question of what's happening to American youth. It's extremely difficult for
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8 srnpnaNrE cooNTZ parents today to look at a specific problem they may have with their teenager, whether that is sneaking out at night or experimenting with alcohol and drugs, without seeing it as a sign of the crisis we are told grips modern youth. Parents tell me they are terri{ied by headlines about the "epidemic" of teen sui- cide and by chilling television stories about kids too young to drive a car but old enough to carry an.LK-47.
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Reading - 2 How HistorydndSociology anHelp C Today's...

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