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Families in Contemporary Media

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Families in Contemporary Media

Xuewei Xu

University of Victoria

Families in Contemporary Media

Familial relationships including marriage, mothering, fathering and parenting are portrayed in different contemporary media and deeply impact the ways our generation and younger generation deal with such relationships. I have chosen three sources to further discuss the familial relationships and underlying discourses.

The TV show I want to talk about is “This is us”. It is an American TV show that tells a story about Pearson family across two generations from Jack and Rebecca as parents to the life of their triplets (Kevin, Kate and Randall).

I have watched three seasons and the most impressive character is Jack, the father. He is the father that gives attention to all three children. Randall is the most special one since he was adopted and he is super smart. Once he did poor on the test on purpose just to show that he was not different from his siblings. After Jack found out, he encouraged Randall and supported him to go to a better school. Allen & Daley (2002) explain that father involvement is positively correlated with children’s overall life. They will be more likely to succeed in their work and have successful marriages. It turns out that after Randall grows up, he is successful in his work and he has an intimate relationship with his wife. He also involves greatly in raising his daughters just as his father does to him.  

Another relationship I want to discuss is Rebecca and Kate, the mother and daughter. Rebecca is beautiful and sings very well. Kate has inherited her mother’s voice but she is a little over-weight. So Kate always feels self-loathing in front of her mother. She wants to be like her mother but her “size” is always the problem because our society has increasingly praised on women with slender, fit bodies. (McDaniel & Tepperman, 2019) For Rebecca, she doesn't even know how to be a mother. Everything she says seems pressure or pity to Kate. And Rebecca even thinks her existence is a mistake. As Hoskins and Lam (2001) explain that all mothers blame themselves when their children have any problems. They expect themselves to be all-knowing and be perfect. Rebecca wants to be a perfect mother, but she cannot emotionally connect to Kate due to the difference they have. She loves Kate, but as As McDaniel & Tepperman (2019) mention “parents do not know how to express this love or how to raise their children properly.” But when Kate grows up and eventually accepts her “size”, she realizes that her mother always loves her and she finally goes back to hug her mother and develops a happy relationship with Toby. As McDaniel & Tepperman (2019) explain, fat-identified women were unhappy in all aspects of the life due to the social norm. But when they rejected these conventional standards of beauty and accepted their sizes, their self-esteem and relationships improved accordingly.

The other source I want to discuss is the reality show I watched: where are you going, Daddy? It is a Chinese reality show that brings seven celebrity dads together to take their children to countryside for 3 days without moms. Most of the dads don’t know how to take care of their kids. They think it is mainly the mother’s jobs and they haven’t been with the kids alone before the reality show. And the kids don’t feel emotionally connected with their fathers either. As Hoffman (2011) explains, fathers come to parenting with less preparation than mothers and have less practical experience than women. Fathers need support from their partners as well as society to prepare them better for fathering. This reality show is very popular in China. It is the first reality show of fathering and more and more similar parenting shows have come out. External factors and role models can affect father’s engagement and investment in the role of parent (Hoffman, 2011). Since celebrities already has a great influence to the society, celebrity dads taking part in raising the children impact greatly on families and show them that fathers have to take part more in raising a child. Even though at first most fathers feel distant from the children, after seven weeks of the reality show, they all become close and emotionally attached. And one father says his son even wants to play with him at home that never happens before.

Besides, all these seven moms have supported fathers to attend this reality show even though they know their partners have never done this before. It shows that fathers who get more support from their partners are twice as likely to have positive parenting behavior. (Hoffman, 2011)

The last source I want to discuss is the Chinese parenting blog I have been followed. For the old Asian generations, they focus more on the children than on their own relationships. But for younger generations, I see more and more articles posing on blogs motioning to value spousal relationship first. Parents should not focus solely on children. They should put more efforts in their own marriage as well. There is a positive connection between marital quality and father involvement in child caring. If the parents have a romantic relationship, father will more likely to understand their role of being a father and a husband. And when father is involved, mothers will be more patient and thus improve co-parental relationship (Allen, 2002).  

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