Family Culture

Do you run around the house in a T-shirt and panties? (No, sir, I am not talking to you!) Do your teens begin singing random songs at the drop of a hat? What about fixing breakfast food for dinner? If you can answer affirmatively to any of those, welcome to my world! If not, keep reading to make sense of it all.

I have spent years studying culture in its various forms. It all came together during a foster parent training meeting. Each family has its own culture. What is normal for my family can be viewed as odd to others. I remember visiting my cousin’s house when I was a teen. My cousin was three years younger and was always running around the house in her T and undies while her parents cooked dinner or watched TV. To tell the truth, I was a little embarrassed. We were much more modest in my house.

When my cousin came to visit us, she was amazed that we went to a cow pasture to build a fire and roast marshmallows (all while fully dressed!). She was what we called a “city kid” which made me a country kid. The one thing we had in common was that we knew our way around our own environment. Our family cultures were different even though our moms grew up together (half sisters).

Why does this happen? The easiest answer I can give is because our family cultures are influenced, in part, by outside forces as we grow. Think of it as a culture within a culture. The dominant culture and its manifestation via TV play a role. Factor in individual preferences and new ideas, and you have a small part of how and why family cultures change. Traditions and celebrations are passed down in families over generations. That sometimes includes favorite foods, too. Dad liked eating gravy with green tomatoes. We sometimes had biscuits and gravy for supper. Have you noticed that even the names of the meals depend on the area? In Virginia (my home state), we ate breakfast, dinner and supper. When I moved to North Carolina, I discovered that people there ate breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Once I had a fellow teacher keep an eye on my teen overnight. When I got back from my conference, she asked if Ysabela always sang. When I said yes, my friend said in her family that only happened with much younger kids. Family culture! When I was a teen, I used to close my bedroom door and sing all the time. (The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, right?) One day my dad came in to see what radio station I was playing. After that, he asked me to sing sometimes.

One last question, and I’ll leave you to your thoughts. Have you and your child ever tried to hold a conversation using only song titles? In my family culture, that, too, is our normal. It can be a lot of fun, especially when you’re quoting songs from twenty years ago and your child is using today’s titles! Welcome to the dark side……

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