Where did the stigma that Americans (esp WASP) always lacked filial piety come from?

Todd Feinman

Ad Honorem
Oct 2013
Planet Nine, Oregon
I think family ties are weakening everywhere around the globe, and if they have weakened faster in America, its probably because the USA has been the primary driver of modern global culture since WWII.

I think in many ways the advance of technology has had an effect on the treatment of elders. In previous ages elders exuded wisdom because they had a lifetime of relevant experience to reflect on. Today, instead of wisdom, elders seem to exude backwardness and confusion, because much of their life experience and lessons learned no longer apply to the techno-landscape, and this discourages youth from taking them seriously.
I think you are right, but it's effects are even more insidious than loss of famiky ties; when individuals are stressed they lose empathy accordingly, and now they can retreat into their own realities. It was hard enough before IT took off to introduce yourself to strangers and get to know people, and now we are alone together most of the time; right out of a Twilight Zone episode.
May 2009
Well when you think about it the US is a country of runaways and orphans. Many immigrants left their families behind when they came here, and maybe as a country we just attract the sort of people who aren't very sentimental about family ties. Even today, anyone who is born in a small town is expected to eventually leave for bigger and better things. You're considered a failure if you stay (or at least youre unadventurous). That's not an accurate view of reality of course. If someone is happy in their small town, and can make a living there, there's nothing wrong with staying there for life. It's their choice. But that's our attitude as a nation. Home and family are like things you're supposed to outgrow and move away from.
Sep 2012
Tarkington, Texas
I was born while my Dad did a stint in the Air Force during the Korean War. I was born on an Air Force Base in California. By the Grace of God, I am Southern. My family was not what many call normal. We were pretty much raised by my Mother as Dad spent most of his time working on Oil Rigs. We were definitely raised differently than my Dad! Dad was Hyperactive and could not sit still. On the flip side he could produce Honor Roll Grades and was an All State Athlete. My poor Grandparents even had to bribe him to behave! At the tender age of 12 he would often drive the Housemaid home!

Poor Dad did not know his children well. After the first day home he would start to get restless and look for stuff for us to do. My Brother would get up in the morning and disappear until dark! This never occurred to me. My Brother was Red haired and Hyperactive. I looked like Dad and was quiet.

Mom never could handle us kids and Dad was in charge when he came home. He thought the children should show their appreciation to Mom by doing stuff like my Brother and I could wash the dishes. Strangely enough, he never put my sisters on KP duty. To this day I can wash dishes in a sink while my surviving sister loads them in the dishwasher. It was always a competition to see who would sit next to him. My Brother and I often lost in the rush to sit away from him! His weapon of choice was to thump us in the forehead with his finger. It hurt! He went on to use this on his Grandchildren. Strangely enough he never thumped my two.

No children in my family disagreed with Dad but we could argue my Mom down. As Grandparents my parents were great until my older sister started to have some. My daughter was well liked, but my Sister was always dumping her kids with Mom.

We all respected Dad, but not so much Mom. She passed on first in 1997. The Melanoma finally took her. She passed at around 67. Dad was still with us into his mid 80's. My younger sister passed in between them. We loved both of them but we respected Dad more. I raised my Daughters to respect her parents, but since I married into a crazy family, it did not take well. They certainly respect me!

In my experience, the Southern Father demands and receives considerable respect. This varies in some families. My sister's kids call the parents by their first names! I remember the time my niece addressed me as "Richard". I went over to her and sat on her lap and repeated: "I am your UNCLE RICHARD. You will call me Uncle!" I didn't get off her lap until she agreed with me. She still calls me 'Uncle Richard' and still calls her parents by their first names. Both of her Brothers were Hyper and poorly behaved. They learned to behave around my Dad. The older one learned to behave around me (could have been the Ritalin?). He has been known to get an occasional present from me. The younger one is mean and I don't give him anything.

There is no easy answer to the OP.