[LMB] OT: ish, the nuclear family

Katherine Collett kcollett at hamilton.edu
Sat Feb 15 18:28:48 GMT 2020


On Feb 15, 2020, at 8:55 AM, Alex Kwan <litalex at gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> Just finished this rather interesting article.
> https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/03/the-nuclear-family-was-a-mistake/605536/?utm_source=share&utm_campaign=share
> 
> It reminds me of all the family and relationship structures in Lois’s books.

My niece (who is an Episcopal priest) says that what jumped out at her was that Brooks doesn't seem to know what "rectory" means (might he have actually meant "factory"?).  That aside, she and her friends discussing the article recommend reading When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present, by Gail Collins; Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn; and The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap, by Stephanie Coontz.  Brooks is of course right that the nuclear family as the one right way is a fairly brief phenomenon (you don't have to know much history to realize that), but blaming the more recent lack of local networks on lawns having gotten bigger, which he seems to do, does not hold water (for one thing, most people live in houses already built before the 1980s, and except in some very exclusive neighborhoods, even more recent, larger houses are mostly on fairly small lots).  There's lots more to the article, and he's right about a lot of what has happened and what is happening, though he may not always be getting causality right.

The families in Lois's books do run the gamut, don't they?  The most isolated nuclear family might be Ekaterin and Tien's -- not really a recommendation for the nuclear family, though of course that's Tien's fault (doesn't Ekaterin point out how "alone together) they are?).  In contrast, look at Vorkosigan House, and even just Miles ("he's not a man, he's a mob").  Fawn's family includes her aunt and is very much networked with the local community, and Dag and Fawn accrete family/patrol/community as they go.

Katherine


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