My mom, my dad, and my brother Drew are by far the three people who have shaped me most in my life. They are each so unique and amazing, and I am so thankful this class has allowed me to connect with each of them about our family.

First, my mom. Caitlin is unbelievably kind, selfless, and loving. She is my best friend, role model, and favorite person to hang out with. She is hard-working, smart, and so much fun. She worries a lot, but supports Drew and I every single day.

My dad! Chris is very smart, self-made, and always looking to do something fun. He loves playing games and sports, especially with me and Drew. Our relationship has improved exponentially as I become an adult, and I love discussing just about everything with him, from classes to politics to moral dilemmas.

Finally, my brother, Drew. I didn’t formally interview him, so I wanted to write a little bit more about why he is such an amazing person. He is unbelievably resilient, hard-working, talented, and thoughtful. Right now, he is a freshman on the Bowdoin basketball team, and I am so proud of him. Drew loves to create and build things, and has been working on new “inventions” since he was probably two. His defining characteristic, though, is his sense of humor. He is so quick-witted and hilarious, and makes me laugh hysterically every time I’m with him. Funny enough, he is also taking Sociology of the Family this semester (I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about what that says about our family…)

A little background: I loved my family growing up, and I still do. When I was little I felt like it was us against the world, two girls, two boys, two parents, two kids. I grew up on a cul-de-sac in suburban New Jersey, and remember a childhood filled with playing outside in our neighborhood, tons of sports, family basketball games and countless talkative dinners. I remember spending entire summers at the Jersey Shore with my mom’s parents and my cousins. I remember my dad reading out loud to us, my mom calling us inside for dinner. I remember them pushing us to do well at school and sports, and them always being on the sidelines, always being proud. As I got older, I also remember fighting and conflict.

When I was fifteen, my parents decided to get a divorce. I’m not sad; it was by far the best decision my family has made. At the time, there was a lot of tension in the house. Mine and Drew’s relationship with my dad was very damaged, and I honestly don’t think I’d have a relationship with him at all now if things had continued. But it was a bit of a wake up call, for everyone, to start living better lives. Now, both my mom’s and my dad’s houses are relaxed, happy places. I have what I consider to be incredible relationships with all three of them.

But its not all rainbows. As a young adult, I really fear the changes and life decisions that lie ahead. I want to find a life partner, raise incredible, happy children, have a successful career, and be personally happy (is that asking for too much?). I am so terrified of getting divorced that it’s almost laughable — I know I will be extremely cautious when deciding to get married. I can be overly critical of my parents’ actions and overly controlling of how our family runs now. I wanted to take this class to give me a better understanding of my own past, and my own future.

I apologize if this is lengthy or superfluous — it’s hard to summarize your family into a few themes! I have so enjoyed reading all of the articles we have, and hearing how different social factors have influenced the families represented in our class. It shocked me how many of the articles I could identify with, but it’s also encouraging. The better we can understand this influences and trends, the better we can work with or against them in our own lives.

I chose to focus on three main themes that I felt best captures my family. Different Beginnings explores the inequality in my parents’ childhoods, and how they shaped them. Opting In and Out outlines my mother’s leave from and return to the workforce, and discusses the sociological influences that led to these decisions. Finally, Trying Our Best focuses on my parents’ unique brand of concerted cultivation that they still share to this day.

So, what do I want these interviews, this website, and this project to do?

To help me to get to know my parents better, as individuals.

To allow me to see my family through a sociological lens, not a vacuum, and identify the social factors that have shaped us.

To help me understand how my parents’ backgrounds have made them who they are today.

To help me understand how my background has made me who I am today.

To help me plan what I want my life, my marriage, and my family to be like.

To thank them for all of their hard work, love, and support.

I love you guys!