American Family Values
Traditional American family values mean different things to different people. Additionally, American values shift depending on the setting. For example the etiquette and manners for one’s home is different than American business etiquette, and practically speaking that’s how it should be. Etiquette is not a “one size fits all” proposition. Nonetheless there seem to be some fundamental foundations in which American etiquette bases itself.
Home is Where the Heart is
Individuals who had a strong, happy family have warm, comforting feelings about the word, “home.” In ancient times the kitchen fire was the first part of a house constructed because it represented the heart of the home. To this day, kitchens remain a gathering place where people socialize, learn and nourish body and mind from one proverbial platter. Here, and around the dining room table, a family’s ethics, values, convictions and manners get passed along by example and through parental guidance.
Growing up there was a neighbor who was fully intent on teaching me table manners without me knowing it. Every Saturday we’d have tea, with elbows of the table and the pinky out. In retrospect these were lessons in etiquette that tie into one common American family value – namely the table is no place for arguments; it’s a center for bonding.
American cultural values favor strong leadership roles in a family akin to having an experienced captain on a ship. The ability to inspire, to share insight, to facilitate – family heads often learn these “on the job.” Parents want to bring up their children to be good human beings, but to do that THEY must walk the talk. Respect and love in the American home aren’t simply given, they’re earned and it’s a two way street.
Responsibility is another hub around which American values rotate. An effective family unit strives to teach self responsibility and culpability be it in the way you do your chores to sexual responsibility. Throughout this process the goal is providing youth with self discipline, honesty, and a sense of purpose and place now and in the future.
Liberal vs. Conservative Values
There is no question that the American Family values differ depending on which side f the political post you sit. The conservative outlook favors marriage as one man and one woman, prefers a more conventional role for women at home and in the family, support traditional education, and often promote a specific religious set of etiquette and manners too. By comparison liberal family values support universal health care, same sex marriages (or single parent homes), social programs for families in needs, educational choices, and individual freedom.
Etiquette vs. Ethics?
It’s nearly impossible to review family values generally or in a short format. In terms of how they tie to practical etiquette, being aware of the differences in family values and how that affects a person’s home life is where good manners comes into play. Never assume. If you’re not certain ask. Honor people’s living space and lifestyle particularly when you’re in their home. Treat values with the same consideration you do other etiquette questions and you won’t stray far from course.
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