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Old 06-26-2009, 08:27 PM   #1
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If you’re old enough to remember Friday nights at 8 o’clock in front of the old 17” black and white TV, you’ll probably believe what research reveals about family life in the 1950s. We’ll get to that in a minute. Chances are you were watching The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.

The Nelson family -- Ozzie, Harriet, David and Ricky -- lived in a nice house in a nice neighborhood, and the “adventures” were pretty tame. Ozzie seemed slightly befuddled as a nice guy who never seemed to have to go to work. Harriet, who was ultra-nice, always looked lovely in a Bon Marche sort of way, even when she was baking cookies. Both the boys were nice too, although Ricky, a bit of a quipster, was introduced each week as “irrepressible.”

The smart critics of a later generation sneered – so unrealistic, so saccharine. Yes, it was unrealistic. And saccharine. No cursing, no fighting, no screaming, no drugs, no bitter rebels without a cause, no brooding anger about Dad’s materialism and Mom’s secret boozing. Just a lot of decent characters apparently enjoying each other as a warm, cohesive family, with no major deviancy or dysfunction.

Now, about that research. In a recent interview, Dr. David Popenoe, founder and former director of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, stated, “The fifties family was a major achievement. . . . Greater family stability was achieved in the fifties than at probably any other time in history, with high marriage rates, low unwed birthrates, and [low] divorce rates.”

Dr. Popenoe, who is internationally regarded as a leading expert on family life, also observed that the 1950s were “best for children,” as compared to parents. Parents made financial and emotional sacrifices for their kids. I know mine did, especially my mom. As a child and then a teenager I never realized how my parents constantly put us kids first, thinking of our future welfare.

We didn’t have an ideal family, but it was good enough to give my sister and me a good start in life. Best of all, both of us married wonderful spouses. We’ve each been married for over forty years to our respective one and only.

In contrast to yesteryear, Popenoe offers a telling indictment of entertainment today: “The focus on stable marriages with children that used to be central in the television programs of an earlier era, no longer exists, having been replaced by themes that appeal to the restless youth. There is virtually no reinforcement within popular culture today for strong marriages, devotion to children, responsible sex, or normal family life. Quite the opposite and it is a tragedy.”

Contemporary culture is harmful, even toxic, for children and adults. However, according to Popenoe, exceptional, thriving marriages show how to buck the trend. “If you are a college-educated person who comes from an intact family, are religious, and marry somebody of the same faith, I would say your risk of divorce is very low, perhaps 10% . . . .

The learned professor is, by his own admission, a “secular humanist.” He confesses, “God is dead, but I miss him.” A strange conclusion, obviously not based on research. The Creator of humanity also designed the marriage covenant. We are meant to worship Him and, if we marry, to pattern our marriage relationship according to God-ordained principles of lifelong commitment.

If we do, our marriage will weather the storms of life and stand the test of time. Mere feelings of attraction are not nearly enough. Marriage designed and ordained by God requires the irrevocable choice to live in holy, faithful, lifelong partnership – “to have and to hold, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness or in health, till death do us part.”

”The Scriptures are clear: “Each of you must love his wife as he loves himself and the wife must respect her husband.” Self-giving, self-sacrificing love doesn’t come naturally. It almost seems like an impossible mission. But the One who gives us the gift of marriage is also willing to give us the integrity and strength to make it work. The faith factor makes the difference.
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Old 06-27-2009, 09:54 AM   #2
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As someone thet grew up in the fifties, I can agree with this. It was the best of times for families, too bad it's not like that today.
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Old 06-27-2009, 12:05 PM   #3
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In those days things were more family oriented and the divorce rate was a lot lower. The TV was the new medium and it was common for the family to be gathered around the set.
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Old 06-27-2009, 03:38 PM   #4
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I didn't grow up in the 1950s, but I've always found black and white shows very comforting. I don't like the caustic remarks and flip flop morals many modern shows have.
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Old 06-27-2009, 11:27 PM   #5
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I will take the Adv. of Ozzie and Harriet over almost anything else - the show had a charm I've never seen equalled. And yes, isn't it amazing that shows could be entertaining without four letter words and TONS of sxl innuendos Even if the some of the ideals of the 50s shows were Utopian, at least they set a bar to strive far - and many were able to reach it.
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Old 06-29-2009, 09:56 AM   #6
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I think it all comes back to love. Ozzie and Harriet was essentially a show about a loving family. What happened to the loving families represented in modern shows like Family Ties and The Cosby Show? To quote Bell Hooks (author of Salvation: Black People and Love), "If love is not present in our imaginations, it will not be present in our lives."

I'm not opposed to tv shows depicting unorthodox families, but I am opposed to tv shows that aren't loving and use comedy as a weapon. I think it's wrong to normalize dysfunctions. Just because something is negative, it doesn't mean it's more real.
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