What is a tradition? It’s generally a custom that a social group incorporates into their lives, generally year after year or even as a lifestyle, depending on the tradition. It can have multiple meanings, but the one I want to focus on today is the political use of tradition as a template for society itself.
When the right uses the term “Traditional Family”, it generally refers to the Nuclear Family, which was propped up heavily in the 1950’s, in the aftermath of World War II. It promoted an “ideal family unit” that was already fairly common, but was also shown as wealthy, happy, and fulfilled. However, even during that time, people were growing afraid of more war, and nuclear threats. There was still a decent amount of poverty as well. Life wasn’t that perfect picture. It was a time of fear, and the United States had to put out this type of propaganda to help morale and ease the minds of its people. While there’s nothing wrong with the actual ideology of the Nuclear Family itself, it is outdated and shouldn’t be applied today as a symbol of what it means to be American.
Today, the American experience isn’t one man working to provide for a family, or the wife staying home to take care of their two kids. It’s single people, or couples struggling to make ends meat, even with two jobs, opting out for kids because they don’t have the mental energy or money to have them. Even more different still, people aren’t adhering to the “traditional marriage” category (i.e. one man and one woman), as more gay couples, polycules, and communal living are out there. The younger generation isn’t adhering to the rules of that old propaganda, because it’s just that.
For the sake of this argument, it’s okay to fall into the Nuclear Family category in this age. What’s not okay is still holding it up as the “best” way to live. Different things make different people happy. I don’t want kids, and I may never get married, because it’s just not important. The feelings are. The connections and relationships you share with others is the most important thing we can do as a society. On top of that, it would breed more productivity and a happier population. We don’t need fear-mongering to keep us from moving forward to a better place.
So, what’s holding us back? The same thing that started this mess: propaganda, and the older individuals who still swear by it. Media, up until very recently, still pushed the Nuclear Family at every chance they could. Even now, their inclusion of gay couples is superficial and could be expanded upon. We’re getting to the point of it becoming part of the norm, as it should be, but it’s still going to take time.
What my point with all of this? To show that some traditions aren’t worth keeping around, especially if it holds us back from progress. Holding to traditions like the Nuclear Family shows a fear of change that can hinder a society, rather than help it. The traditions that could be kept are things like holiday traditions. My family holds an egg cracking contest on Easter every year, because it’s what we’ve done my entire life, and what my mom did long before me. It doesn’t hurt anything, and keeps fun things there for generations.
Marriage isn’t just between a man and woman anymore, and there are plenty of people that don’t want kids, or simply can’t sustain that type of life. Things need to change with the times, not stay stuck in the past. This is the age of change, and the denial of those strict roles.