My mother told me something a few weeks ago that I will not forget: “You can always feel safe at home. That’s what a home is meant for.” I never thought about it when I was in its midst, but I am incredibly fortunate to have had such a breadth of experience and interpersonal connection growing up. My parents afforded me exposure to different cultures, countries, and ideas.
I have realized in college that my parents are people. This may seem a strange thing to say, but when I was living at home before college, they seemed to be parents. They offered suggestions, advice, reminded me of my obligations, and were firm when they thought I could do better. But now, with some perspective, I realize that they were where I am not too long ago, and that life is an ever changing flow.
My oral history project examines familial sociological themes that I uncovered through interviews with my mother and father, and then relates these themes to my experience. Parenting, like the family, and life, is ever changing. Often, parenting style is not acknowledged when in the throes of scheduling, transportation, meal preparation, household upkeep, and child diplomacy. My parents’ memories of their parenting during my childhood were dependent on the age of my siblings and I and, in turn, our involvement in school and our extracurricular activities. My discussion will focus on the origin of my parents’ expectations for family life, how their division of labor was a function of past experience and occupational pressures, and how the activities they viewed as valuable became a language with which the family could communicate.