As with any person, the relationships in my family depend on different factors and social institutions. The most important among these factors are gender, religion, and education. My Hispanic family supports traditional gender roles actively, which is further reinforced by Roman Catholicism, which is why the idea of combining marriage and education may appear problematic and even frowned upon.
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The most notable factor shaping relations within my family and, specifically, my relationships with my relatives is gender. I come from a Hispanic family that has thoroughly defined ideas on the social roles acceptable for both men and women. For a female, these ideas have a more significant focus on family than for a male and, generally, revolve around marriage and motherhood. It is much like Yarber and Sayad (2013) put it: once a woman passes through adolescence and reaches maturity, “she is expected to get married and have children” (p. 139).
It does not mean that the ideas of gender adopted in my family deny a woman any roles except those of a wife and a mother. Still, traditional gender roles are mostly upheld, and the traditional female role puts its primary emphasis on a woman’s commitment and responsibilities in marriage rather than in any other context.
Another important social factor embedded in my family and familial relationships is religion. One has to understand that, among Hispanics, the family is a fundamental value by itself. There is even a specific sociological concept called familismo, which designates this “commitment to family and family members” and the tendency to value them above all things (Yarber & Sayad, 2013, p. 61). However, religion – Roman Catholicism in the case of my family – strengthens such an attitude even further by sanctioning it with the force of divine authority. The idea of filial or daughterly piety promotes respect to one’s parents and adherence to the norms they embody and advocate.
Thus, if the traditional gender roles present an idea of what an exemplary family should be, religion explains why this idea, and not any other, deserves implementation in practice. When both familismo and Catholicism support and reinforce a specific social role, they inevitably leave an impact on the family as a whole and each of its members individually.
Finally, education is also a noteworthy social institution that affects my family and, specifically, my relations with my relatives. As mentioned above, the idea of a gender role prescribed for a woman and generally shared within my family focus on marital responsibilities. A specific concept describing this concentration on “being faithful and subordinate to husbands and maintaining family traditions and culture” is called marianismo (Yarber & Sayad, 2013, p. 39).
As a consequence, female students cause a value dissonance because they are expected to marry and stay home with their husbands and children rather than pursue an education. Thus, education contradicts the traditional female gender role as embedded and propagated in my family and, as such, is a factor in its own right.
As one can see, gender, religion, and education all play their roles in shaping my family and relationships within it. Generally, my family supports traditional gender roles, which, for a woman, revolve around marriage and motherhood. Religion offers additional sanction to these roles by encouraging obedience and daughterly piety. Education, on the other hand, produces a value dissonance, as it contradicts the marital and familial expectations usually associated with a Hispanic woman.
Yarber, W., & Sayad, B. (2013). Human sexuality: Diversity in contemporary America (8th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.