Debunking the myth of the traditional family

"The traditional family  -- with a mother, father and children living in a household -- as it is presented now, has never existed," says Slovak culturologist Petra Chovancová, who conducted research among older Slovak women.

Ria Gehrerová
Ria Gehrerová Denník N, Slovakia
Source: Denník N
Debunking the myth of the traditional family - NewsMavens
Family photograph taken in 1933, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

All around Europe, conservative Christian movements are talking about "traditional families" as the best model of a family that should be restored and cherished.

However, experts who are researching the history of families say that the "traditional family" as we imagine it, is a romantic fiction.

Slovak culturologist Petra Chovancová says that at the beginning of the 20th century, women usually did not marry because they fell in love, but rather because it was expected of them.

The family chose the groom, not the woman and the marriage was often unhappy. Slovak women of these generations report that, although it was not discussed, alcoholism often poisoned family life. Younger women should therefore think twice before embracing the "traditional" model touted by politicians of the new right.

Details from the story:

  • In earlier generations, men often lived away from their family because they had to work far from home. They would leave the family for weeks or even months.
  • Because men were away, women had to do everything around the house, in the field and with children. There was no "traditional" labor division in the house -- women took care of everything.
  • There was often no romantic attachment between spouses.
  • Men were the main decision-makers in the family.
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