During one of the discussions we had in the class we were talking about parenting styles and family interrelations and the role they play in the process of enculturation, i.e. how the way our parents treated us in the childhood and how they treated each other affects the evolution of ourselves as the members of society, the cultural values we have, how we interact with others, and, in general, who we become when we grow up. So, this cultural reflection will be devoted to my experience of enculturation affected by my parents and their relationships and what impact it had on my family relationships.
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When I was growing up, my father worked a lot because he was the breadwinner for our family. My mother, on the other hand, did not go to work a lot and was a stay-at-home mom. In fact, she was not forced to find a job because we had even more than we needed with the income coming in from my dad’s position. I remember my mom doing all home chores, running errands around the house like cooking and cleaning up, and taking care of my brother and me.
My dad was and still is very demanding, and even years later he can’t get rid of his machismo, i.e. strong or aggressive masculine pride. I remember my father having a free dry cleaning at his job, but he refused to take his clothes there because he believed his clothes was much cleaner if my mom took care of it piling more work for my mom. My father said that was normal in Panama and that his dad taught him that men should take care of their women.
As I grew up and got married, I started thinking about the relationships we had in our family and the ones I have with my husband. My husband is a Mexican American, and he also had an experience of machismo in his household, until his parents separated when he was ten. I sometimes go a day or two without cooking or running errands around a house not because I don’t want to, but because of my busy schedule.
Having had a machismo at home as a child, I decided that I did not want to be treated like my mom but share the house duties with my husband and do things similar to what my husband does. As years passed by, my mom who had a rather permissive parenting style when a was a child became more authoritative in imposing her opinion that I should as well be a stay-at-home wife, so I have to remind her that I do not want to be treated like her. My dad who still has a strong masculine pride, on the other hand, surprisingly has become more permissive and thinks that I am free to choose my life and family style by myself.
Speaking of the role the relationships in my family had on my experience of enculturation, I can say that the model of relationships my parents have chosen to build their family strongly affected my belief that a husband and a wife should be partners. That means that they should be equal in their right to self-realization and that women are free to choose whether they want to run a house or climb the ranks.