The older and more grounded I become in the middle age phase of my life, the more aware I am of the person I have become and how the choices made both myself and my family have formed what is known as “My Life”. My family traditions, upbringing and values have influenced my biological, cultural views and values allowing me to formulate a life, principles, and a family similar in some aspects to my family, who raised me, while other aspects are astoundingly different.
With my life and career goals very different from that of my parents’ lives and their expectations these influences by class, culture, and ethical teachings are instrumental in shaping my views, perceptions and how they played a part in my current family life. (TCO 3,4) Looking back at my childhood, I feel as if I was living life while being contained within a bubble. I was born in Maryland just outside of the city of Baltimore in the suburbs.
I had three older brothers who ultimately absorbed the majority of my mother’s time and a work alcoholic father, caught up in a capitalistic industrial job playing the hunter gatherer roll, who saw us for what amounted to be minutes a day, never attending any of my functions. As seen in the structural-functional theory as it relates to gender, my mother conformed to societies patriarchy views because during the seventies sexism dictated a woman’s place within society. We all attended private schooling at the local Roman Catholic Church while being force-fed the same ideals and traditions that where instilled and passed down through the previous generations. I grew up in what is considered middle to lower class society and had a very narrow and sheltered view or the world outside or the discrimination others endured. My family, religious and educational values were dictated through threats for nonconformity in my family to include occasional physical punishment that would be considered deviant behavior by today’s standards, potentially resulting in criminal charges.
To further monopolize more of my mothers’ time, she felt it necessary to play her maternal roll and had a fifth child nine years later. (TCO 1, 2, 3, 4,5) Growing older through my adolescent and teen years and trying to escape the shadows of three older brothers and a younger sister, I forged the wrong path academically, while looking for acceptance from peers which usually resulted with hanging with the wrong crowd. I fortunately developed good work ethic and habits because my father insisted we all work during the summer months to minimize the possibility of, kids being kids, and me getting into trouble. Upon graduating high school, by the skin of my teeth, I entered the Air Force. The Air Force hierarchy and structure reinforced and further instilled society’s views of conformity through rules and regulations. Protocols such as, the “Military Chain of Command”, allowed me to mature and changed my very sheltered views of society altering my perspective of society both national and globally. (TCO 3,4,5,6)
My new travels, endeavors and encounters, throughout the world, during my military years opened my eyes to the gender, religious and racial discrimination people encounter. These views and encounters I experienced further engrained in me that if I wanted more out of life for myself, or for that matter my family later in life, I would have to have my own business. In doing this it, would afford me the ability to prosper in a capitalistic society and allow me opportunities known to people living in the upper-middle to upper class. After starting my own business in the late 90’s, and after several years of setbacks, trials, and tribulations, I feel I have achieved success. I have still remained a blue-collar worker and I believe I have achieved success from dedication, blood, sweat, and tears, not to mention countless hours of hard work but never at the cost of my family, as in the case of my childhood upbringing. ( TCO 1,4,6)
I currently have a wife of over twenty years who chose the gender role of her own mother and of my mother in working from the home, raising our children. This was the right choice for our family because we wanted more for our children and felt that someone else raising our children wasn’t the best option for them. . Even with all the feministic controversy in the twenty-first century my wife chose the more liberal approach. While raising our three boys and me coaching or attending all sporting activities I escaped the views and actions my father instilled in me. I was able to play the hunter/gather role in providing for my family, while playing a very important and vital role in shaping and cultivating our children to be able to handle what challenges and opportunities the world has to offer them. (TCO 7,8) Finally, after twenty some years of business and reenlisting in the Air Force, I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to further my education, something that wasn’t an important priority in previous years.
Since embarking on this new adventure and opportunity to further my career it has allowed me to expand my educational knowledge and know how. It opened my eyes to the many fascinating cultures and diversified ways in which people live, view and cherish their culture and social norms. Unfortunately, with the good there is always bad and I have a new respect for individuals and their challenges when dealing with race, color and creed issues. These life experiences and perceptions have dictated and even altered their societal and cultural beliefs creating a world very different from what I have perceived. The adage that “with age comes wisdom”, I feel is very important along with my family and life experiences in creating the individual I am today. This Sociology course has allotted me the opportunity to reflect on how truly influential these aspects were in shaping the person I am and are continually reinforcing my views with each day that I grow. (TCO 3,4)
Macionis, John J. (2011) Society: the basics Upper Saddle River, NJ : Pearson Prentice Hall