This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

Rugged individualism versus close-knit families

As a man born in the twentieth century, I have seen both what I call *rugged individualism* versus close-knit families. And I can honestly say that I see good in both of these things. Growing up in the midwest, I was taught the importance of being a man who stands on his own two feet, who deals with hardships as they come to him, who doesn't go running off for help for every little thing. You know, a man with True Grit.

Of course, I've seen a lot of *family is everything* in my life as well. Families that care for each other, families that look out for each other. Knowing that when you need a hand, one will reach out to you, no questions asked.

I also have strong memories of people who never moved out of their parents' basement, men who were *mama's boys*, that sort of thing. There was a softness, and a weakness, to men who never strayed very far from the old neighborhood, from their mama's apron strings. They were quick to turn to their families when things went wrong, quick to borrow money, quick to end up sleeping on the couch of a relative, quick to give up when the going got tough.

I suppose, like everything else, it's a balance. Speaking for myself, I moved away when I was 18 and never really did much looking back. I have no animosity to my family, they cared for me well, taught me to be the type of man that I wanted to be, strong and independent. My fascination with genealogy is academic, I've no need to be a *shirt-tail relative* (which means someone who is a distant relative and shows up to borrow money, etc.).

I have no children, and I often wonder if I would stress the *rugged individualism*, like my parents did, or do the backlash of *helicopter parenting* - you know, where parents hover over everything their kids do, and give awards just for participating. As a teacher, I saw a lot of young people who had never seen any reason to put forth much effort, as they knew that their family would provide a safety net. And you know, maybe a safety net is kind of a nice thing.

Like I said, I really can't make up my mind on this. There is much to be said for both sides of the question.
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